The major repository of the art of three generations of Wyeths (H.C, Andy, and Jamie), and steward of hundreds of acres of land where the artists worked, the Brandywine Museum is a national treasure. Today, it is expanding its focus beyond the 19th and 20th centuries to include contemporary art. In doing so, museum staff plans to maintain close ties to the spirit of their core holdings. New commissions and exhibitions both inside Brandywine's historic galleries (a converted millhouse) and on its surrounding properties will likely explore the gap between realism and representation so central to the Wyeths' work. In 2013, the Center provided the Brandywine Museum a grant for the first of these projects: an exhibition by Los Angeles neo-conceptual photographer James Welling.
Home to world-renowned collections of the artist Andrew Wyeth, the Brandywine River Museum exhibits illustration, painting, and the work of artists of the Brandywine region. In 2015, the museum will shake things up with a thoughtful solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based conceptual photographer James Welling, whose ongoing Wyeth series takes inspiration from and pays homage to the 20th-century American artist. For this series, Welling shot photos on location in Maine and Pennsylvania—the same areas where Wyeth painted throughout his life. "I never stopped thinking about Wyeth; he had become part of how I see," Welling says. The show will mark a sea change for the museum, which rarely presents contemporary art and has never before exhibited photography. For the planning phase, the museum collaborated with guest curator Sheryl Conkelton, who has held positions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She worked closely with Welling and the museum's resident curators to tease out complex relationships between Welling's and Wyeth's work, and to commission new photos from Welling as the Wyeth series draws to a close.