The special exhibition Alice in Pictureland: Illustrations of Lewis Carroll's Classic Tales will delight visitors young and old. Alice, the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit and the other wonderful, fanciful figures found in Lewis Carroll's famous books have delighted people of all ages since their first appearance in Alice in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1871). This exhibition includes work by John Tenniel, the first illustrator of Carroll's Alice stories, as well as by subsequent noteworthy artist-interpreters, including Arthur Rackham, Peter Newell, Jessie Willcox Smith, and Barry Moser. The exhibition features over 40 objects, including original art, proofs, prints, and first edition books.
Thousands of adorable "critters," created from natural materials by Conservancy volunteers are on view throughout the museum. This year's special displays include a tree of critter "river life" featuring frogs, birds, fish, mice, turtles, beavers, and other creatures that make their home in or near the river. Another featured tree will showcase critter athletes, including canoeists, kayakers, tennis players, golfers, skiers, soccer players and skaters. Visitors will also see critters inspired by characters from books by Dr. Seuss and by Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. An assortment of critter bears, musical performers, storybook characters and angels will adorn other trees while an imaginatively decorated "Alice in Wonderland" wreath will include critter characters from this popular story, which has inspired a holiday exhibition this year.
Christmas at the Brandywine River Museum also includes a spectacular O-gauge train display, which fills an entire gallery. As many as five of the 150 locomotives and 300 freight cars in the collection run simultaneously on more than 2,000 feet of track, winding past a village, stone quarry, oil refinery, mountains, Herr Foods plant and running waterfall, as Santa and his sleigh fly overhead. A "rail cam," mounted on a snowplow, gives visitors a view from the perspective of a miniature locomotive driver.
This year's display will look back to the origins of the miniature railway hobby, when steam was the power for model trains. Train enthusiast Murray Wilson has loaned his private collection of miniature steam locomotives, some dating to the 1860s, for a special display. From December 26 through 30, during the museum's extended hours from 4:30 to 6 p.m., Mr. Wilson will run some of the trains, a rare opportunity for the public to see.
More than 60 antique dolls from the Ann Wyeth McCoy Collection bring the holiday season to life. The large French, German and American bisque dolls are posed in small groups engaged in familiar winter activities. They are dressed in antique doll clothing or in costumes designed and sewn by Mrs. McCoy from antique fabrics. Mrs. McCoy's daughters and son generously donated these rare dolls to the museum, ensuring that the Brandywine River Museum will continue to share this Christmas tradition with its visitors in years to come.
An enchanting antique Victorian dollhouse (circa 1905) is a masterpiece of intricate detail and incredible craftsmanship. The eleven-room house is true to Victorian decor-cluttered rooms filled with overstuffed furniture, wax flowers, gilt mirrors, fringed cushions and knickknacks-all made to scale. Most of the furniture and accessories are original to the house, as are all but one of the bisque dolls who inhabit it. The dollhouse belonged to Sarah Scaife and is shown through the courtesy of Richard M. Scaife.
Holiday music, provided by local school choirs, will fill the air and add to the multi-sensory experience for visitors. Everyone who experiences A Brandywine Christmas, whether it's for the first time or the 37th, will leave the Brandywine River Museum with a sense of wonder and joy. A Brandywine Christmas is sponsored by The Snelling Group at Merrill Lynch, Herr Foods Inc, and The Frelinghuysen Foundation.
*Critter ornaments may be purchased at the Museum's Annual Critter Sale on Saturday, December 5, and Sunday, December 6, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Following the sale, critters can be purchased in the Museum Shop. Proceeds from the sale benefit the Vlunteers' Art Purchase Fund, which has added more than 200 paintings, drawings and prints to the Museum's holdings since 1975.
The Brandywine River Museum is located on U.S. Route 1 in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. The museum is open daily, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except Christmas Day, and with extended hours until 6:00 p.m. December 26 through 30. Admission is $10 for adults; $6 for seniors ages 65 and over, students, and children over six; free for children under six and members. Due to the large number of visitors during the busy holiday season, the museum regrets that it cannot accommodate baby strollers. For more information, call 610-388-2700 or visit the museum's website at www.brandywinemuseum.org.
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