Like many of the communities surrounding the Pittsburgh area along each of its three rivers, Beaver County residents have always been proud of their industrial history and blue collar attitude. But that doesn’t mean that there can’t also be room for an appreciation of fine art, at least that is what industrialist Edward Dempster Merrick believed.
After finding industrial success in a foundry business with his brothers and then an investment in a horseshoe nail manufacturing company, Merrick spent the remainder of his life collecting and creating an impressive amount of fine art.
He purchased an old railroad station in 1850 to display his collection, then had the building renovated to add a second story. Later, he purchased the building next door to expand his gallery even further. While many of his own personal paintings disappeared after his death, more than 200 pieces of his collection remain in his gallery to this day!
What You Find Find at the Gallery
Today, the Merrick Art Gallery contains a permanent collection that still includes many of the paintings that Merrick purchased over the course of his life. You will find 18th and 19th century paintings from French, German, English and American artists. Merrick was known for his eclectic taste, so you will see romantic, realistic, and impressionistic works.
One of the biggest areas of focus is a collection of Hudson River School paintings. These paintings represent a mid-19th century style of American art that combines aspects of New England area landscapes with romanticism. Some of the prominent artists featured in this collection include Durand, Moran, Kensett, Casilear, and Trost Richards.
Another extremely popular piece on display at the Merrick Art Gallery is a piano that was once played by the famous composer Stephen Foster.
Classes & Events
Because it is the only fine art gallery in Beaver County, the Merrick Art Gallery is the go-to location for many cultural events. It is a popular location for art-themed fundraisers that combine wine tasting socials with the beautiful art on display.
They also host many different types of art classes covering everything from basic painting, to pottery, to the history of the gallery itself. If you are interested in learning more about their classes, they usually post a schedule of upcoming classes and events on their website.
The Merrick Art Gallery also contains two great rooms for hosting small events. Their Edwardian Room can comfortably seat up to 80 people for a sit-down dinner, and the smaller Orientation Room is great for functions with up to 40 people. Renting either room includes the use of the gallery’s kitchen.
If you have an appreciation for 18th and 19th century art, you will be blown away by this hidden gem located in downtown New Brighton. If you don’t know much about fine art but are interested in learning more, the staff at Merrick Art Gallery is always eager to teach and explain the history of each piece and why it is important to the collection.
The gallery is generally open from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm on Tuesday through Saturday, and then from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm on Sunday. They have slightly different hours in the summer and are closed for most holidays, so you will want to make sure to check their website to confirm the hours before visiting!