Glencairn's "Tyldal Chair": A Twentieth-Century Revival of Twelfth-Century Norwegian Woodcarving

There is so much artwork to appreciate at Glencairn that visitors often pass by a certain elaborately-carved oak chair on the first floor without giving it a second glance. The chair was inspired by a twelfth-century Norwegian chair that was rediscovered in the late nineteenth century in a church in the village of Tyldal. The nineteenth century saw a revival of interest in woodcarving influenced by Norwegian Viking art, which became known as “dragon style.” Glencairn’s chair, hand carved in the Bryn Athyn woodworking shop in the 1920s, is significant—not only for the high quality of its workmanship, but for the story it tells about the circumstances that led to its creation.  

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Medieval Depictions of the Last Judgment: The Resurrection of the Body

The Last Judgment, when the dead rise from their graves to be consigned either to salvation in Heaven or damnation in Hell, was arguably the most important theological concept for medieval Christians. In this essay for Glencairn Museum News, Dr. Sean Lawing, Assistant Professor of History at Bryn Athyn College, considers the ways in which the human body held significance for medieval Christians in the theological framework of the Last Judgment, with special reference to art in Glencairn Museum’s medieval collection.

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Sacred Adornment: Jewelry as Belief in Glencairn’s Egyptian Collection

Glencairn Museum’s collection of ancient Egyptian jewelry, assembled by Raymond Pitcairn in the 1920s and early 1930s, includes strung beaded necklaces, amulets, and rings dating from at least as early as the First Intermediate Period (2130-1980 BCE) through the Greco-Roman Period (332 BCE- 323 CE). Individual elements include figures of gods, goddesses, and other magical and protective images, providing ample opportunity to study ancient Egyptian religious beliefs and magical practices.

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Do You See What I See? Two Holiday Exhibitions and a “Christmas in the Castle” Tour

This year Glencairn Museum is featuring two exhibitions during the holiday season. Our ninth annual World Nativities exhibition presents 40 three-dimensional Nativity scenes, collected from 20 countries around the world. Another exhibition, Do You See What I See? Imagery in Nativity Scenes, explores the origins of the various elements that make up a Nativity scene. And Glencairn’s guided “Christmas in the Castle” tour answers the question, “How do you celebrate Christmas in a 20th-century castle?” 

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A “Visitation” from Sainte-Radegonde

In this essay for Glencairn Museum News, Michael Cothren, Glencairn’s Consultative Curator of Medieval Stained Glass, traces the history of our 13th-century “Visitation” panel, which depicts the visit of Mary (pregnant with Jesus) with Elizabeth (pregnant with John the Baptist). This stained glass panel is from the church of Sainte-Radegonde outside the city of Poitiers, France—the church that inspired the creation of the remarkable Christmas window in Glencairn’s chapel.

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An Interview with Jason Klein of Historical Glassworks

Recently Glencairn Museum News interviewed Jason Klein of Historical Glassworks, located in Manheim, Pennsylvania. We asked Jason about the history of glassblowing in Bryn Athyn and his ongoing effort to recreate the famous “striated ruby” glass, made in Bryn Athyn’s glassworks for Bryn Athyn Cathedral and Glencairn.

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Reflected Glories: Raymond Pitcairn's Loans to the Philadelphia Museum of Art

In this essay for Glencairn Museum News, Jack Hinton, Associate Curator of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, traces the early history and importance of Raymond Pitcairn’s loans of medieval objects to the PMA, which “have allowed the visiting public to gain a more complete understanding of the spiritual and devotional purpose surrounding their creation.”

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A Libation Bowl with the Goddess Hathor, "Lady of Heaven"

In this essay for Glencairn Museum News, Egyptologist Dr. Jennifer Houser Wegner examines the remarkable ancient Egyptian libation bowl in Glencairn’s Bird Room. According to Dr. Wegner, “liquid offerings were an essential part of Egyptian cult practices, both in tomb and temple settings.” Purchased by Raymond Pitcairn in the 1920s, the bowl was originally installed in the entrance hall of Cairnwood. In 1939 it became the only Egyptian object permanently installed inside Glencairn.

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Five Artists Inspired by the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772)

This issue of Glencairn Museum News explores the work of five artists who were influenced by the theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). Glencairn’s New Church (Swedenborgian) art collection includes examples of works produced by some of the most prominent artists known to have been inspired by Swedenborg’s writings, as well as a number by lesser-known artists. Swedenborgian themes, such as heaven and hell, the spiritual relationship of married couples, and the nature of the human soul, have become the subject matter of many of their paintings and sculptures.

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