The Wharton Esherick Museum in Malvern, Penn., received an unexpected endowment gift of $10 million. The museum made the public announcement on Friday, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The news of the gift was shared earlier with the museum's co-founder shortly before he passed away this fall.
The surprise gift came from Arkansas-based Windgate Foundation, and represents a windfall for a small institution with a 2020 budget that was $424,000, before the crippling impacts of covid-19.
Mansfield Bascom, co-founder of the Wharton Esherick Museum passed away on October 26 at the age of 96. The museum released a statement that Mansfield “Bob” Bascom was an "unwavering pillar of dedication to the Wharton Esherick Museum and the preservation of Esherick’s legacy for nearly fifty years." Alongside his wife, Ruth Esherick Bascom, and Wharton’s companion Miriam Phillips, Mansfield helped found his father-in-law’s home and studio as a museum in 1972. He served as Director of the Museum, with Ruth serving as President, until 1990, and served as Curator until 2007.
The Wharton Esherick Museum, located just outside of Valley Forge Park in Malvern, Penn., is the handcrafted home and studio of Wharton Esherick (1887-1970), an internationally significant artist and leader of the Studio Furniture Movement.
Esherick worked primarily in wood and extended his unique forms to furniture, furnishings, interiors, buildings, and more. His motto, “If it isn’t fun, it isn’t worth doing,” is evident in the joyful expression of his work. A National Historic Landmark for Architecture, his hilltop studio/residence, with more than 300 of his works on exhibition, has been preserved much as it was when the artist lived and worked there.
The Wharton Esherick Museum is experienced through guided tours that must be reserved in advance. Advanced tickets are required, and can be purchased at whartonesherickmuseum.org. Explore the museum online.