Multiple waves of immigration have left an indelible German influence on the Philly area. The multi-venue Celebration of Pennsylvania German Art, is exploring this legacy through traditional Pennsylvania German (a.k.a. Pennsylvania Dutch) art forms such as fraktur, letters and documents embellished with motifs such as birds and flowers. These exhibitions are just the beginning of the Pennsylvania German experience. Drawn With Spirit: Pennsylvania German Fraktur from the Joan and Victor Johnson Collection showcases more than 240 examples of fraktur (calligraphic folk art) and manuscripts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Mounted at the sweeping Wintherthur Museum, Garden & Library, A Colorful Folk: Pennsylvania Germans & the Art of Everyday Life presents 125 works of fraktur, redware pottery, ironwork, painted furniture and textiles, all demonstrating the cultural emphasis on beauty through everyday objects. Part of the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Framing Fraktur project, Quill & Brush Pennsylvania German Fraktur and Material Culture displays both hand-drawn and printed fraktur, as well as manuscripts and books from the library’s Pennsylvania German collection. A Bridgeport diner houses Andy’s Place, serving homey dishes such as wiener schnitzel, schinkenfleckli and erlinsbacher flute (German-style hoagie). Guests can also expect plenty of German specialties on the menu at the family-owned bar and restaurant in Montgomery County’s Rockledge, Austrian Village. Brauhaus Schmitz, in addition to classic dishes, brings the traditional German beer hall to Philadelphia’s storied South Street. Held once a year in December, the Folk Art Sale at the Mennonite Heritage Center where vendors sell traditional Pennsylvania German goods and contemporary works inspired by them. For lovers of authentic cuckoo clocks, nutcrackers and beer steins, German Clocks and Gifts provides a year-round Christkindlmarket. Shoppers may find Pennsylvania Dutch goods at just about any area farmers’ market, but Lancaster County Farmers Market in Wayne distinguishes itself with sheer variety. On any given Wednesday, Friday or Saturday, shoppers can load up on smoked meats, soft pretzels, crafts and gold jewelry. Pennsylvania German art, including furniture and folk art, comprises a significant piece of the Barnes Foundation collection— it’s the largest and most significant collection of Pennsylvania German artwork anywhere in the world. Representing 16 different sites, Historic Germantown invites visitors to engage with the neighborhood’s fascinating legacy, from Revolutionary War battles to the anti-slavery movement and the Underground Railroad. As the region’s best resource for information about immigrant populations, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania maintains an enormous archive of manuscripts, books, graphics and ephemera from the 17th century and onward. For more information, visit visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com.
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