Brandywine River Museum reopens for holidays, without as many critters

Ken MammarellaCulture, Headlines


brm entrance

After coping with massive flooding from Hurricane Ida, the Brandywine River Museum of Art reopens the day after Thanksgiving.



After being closed to the public for almost three months by flooding, the Brandywine River Museum of Art is reopening Friday with its miniature railroad and Critter-decorated holiday displays.

The holiday display will include highlights of its permanent art collection and run Nov. 16 through Jan. 9.

The O-gauge train display, a tradition since 1972, returns in its full glory – more than 1,000 tiny yet realistic railroad cars and other decorative pieces, plus 2,000 feet of track. 

brandywine train

The massive O-gauge train display is back at the Brandywine Museum of Art when it reopens Friday, Nov. 26. Photo by Carlos Alejandro.

But fewer Critter ornaments are involved to celebrate the season. 

The museum is a converted grist mill, built in 1864 to harness the power of the Brandywine River. That power ran amok in flooding following Hurricane Ida, which caused more than $6.2 million in damages to the museum’s lowest level and 10 other buildings on the 15-acre campus.

Damage in the museum’s lowest level included a lecture room, classroom, offices, 8,200 new Critters made for sale to the public and classic Critters saved for museum displays.

“After this devastating loss, the Brandywine’s Critter volunteers rolled up their sleeves, fired up their glue guns and got back to work, quickly creating an amazing range of new ornaments in time for the annual holiday sale,” the museum said in announcing its holiday plans. “Additionally, thanks to the generosity of staff, volunteers and others who donated their own Critter collections back to the Brandywine – including some ornaments that had graced the White House holiday display in 1984 – the museum’s holiday trees will still be decorated with Critters for visitors to enjoy.”

brandywine Critter TeaselReindeer

Critter ornaments made from natural materials will return to the Brandywine River Museum of Art when it reopens after dealing with flooding.

This year’s Critter sale will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 4-5 at the Chadds Ford Historical Society, across U.S. Route 1 from the museum, at 1736 Creek Road, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. A smaller selection of Critters and houses are being sold online.

The museum estimates months of work remain before it is “fully restored to its prior functionality.”

Its recovery wish list includes cash, vehicles, gardening tools, office equipment and arts supplies.

Admission to the museum is $18, with discounts for seniors, students and museum members. The museum is using timed tickets (and advising purchases made in advance online).

Several special events highlight the holiday displays, including virtual talks Dec. 2, 13 and 14 by Victoria Wyeth on the art of her grandfather, Andrew Wyeth, and her uncle, Jamie Wyeth.

The museum is at 1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, Chadds Ford. The holiday display runs daily through Jan. 9. It’s closed on Christmas.

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