August Virtual Tour of the Wharton Esherick Museum

Aug 11, 2021

On a beautiful summer day the Decorative Arts Trust visited the Wharton Esherick Museum to share a virtual tour. Julie Siglin, Executive Director, and Emily Zilber, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Strategic Partnerships, led us through this fascinating space. Tim Andreadis, a 20th-century specialist and the Vice President and Division Director for Decorative Arts and Design at Freeman’s, which sponsored the program, was on hand to contribute to the conversation. 

Born in Philadelphia to a prosperous family, Wharton Esherick is primarily known as a furniture maker, sculptor, and woodworker, but the artistic polymath was multifaceted, to say the least. Esherick was a foundational figure in American art history and architecture. After attending famous art schools and winning the praise of renowned artists and teachers such as William Merritt Chase, Esherick left formal education to develop his own unique style of art making. From a commercial illustrator to a woodworker to a printmaker and beyond, Esherick’s career was eclectic and produced impressive results at every turn. 

In 1926, Esherick began building his studio, the earliest portion of which is inspired by Pennsylvania vernacular architecture. Esherick, who had no formal architectural training, expanded the studio throughout the next four decades, adding residential comforts along the way. This studio-turned-home is now the core of the Wharton Esherick Museum.

Our tour began in Esherick’s studio, a space filled with his work, thus providing a unique glimpse into the creative impulse of an important artist. With his unconventional artistic background that spanned fine art and craft, he was unencumbered by traditional architecture and created a wholly unique space in which to create wholly unique art. 

Esherick’s unconventional eye continues in the living space upstairs, which includes a bedroom and kitchen. A great problem-solver when utilizing small spaces, Esherick experimented with storage solutions, some influenced by his experience as a sailor, and each packed with personal touches. 

Our tour ended with a discussion of the exciting future for the Wharton Esherick Museum, which recently received a $10 million dollar grant from the Windgate Foundation. There are big plans for this exciting space, and we can’t wait to visit again soon! 

Watch the full tour in the video below: 

The Decorative Arts Trust hosts monthly virtual tours that give viewers the opportunity to go behind the scenes and experience incredible collections and sites. Curators, collectors, and lovers of decorative arts share fascinating objects and interiors through our tours hosted on YouTube Live. 

If you like this video, we welcome you to subscribe to our YouTube channel at

Visit the Trust’s calendar of events to see a list of upcoming virtual and in-person programs. For updates about registration, sign up for our e-newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. The Trust is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that values the support of members and donors who make programming like this possible. 

About The Decorative Arts Trust Bulletin

Formerly known as the "blog,” the Bulletin features new research and scholarship, travelogues, book reviews, and museum and gallery exhibitions. The Bulletin complements The Magazine of the Decorative Arts Trust, our biannual members publication.


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