Photograph by Dennis Stierer, Lockport, NY
Dr. Penney began to collect art in 1934 when he was given a watercolor by artist Robert Blair, his Sunday school teacher. Over the years Dr. Penney's collecting interests expanded until he had put together 100 collections, ranging from the art of Western New York to World's Fair and Exposition souvenirs, from Staffordshire figures to coat hangers, and from quilts to Mr. Peanuts memorabilia. Dr. Penney's collections grew in size and quality, as well as number, and by the 1960s he had completely devoted his life to his collections, which by then had received national and international recognition. Many of the items from the Charles Rand Penney collections have been on display in exhibits in various prominent institutions around the country. Dr. Penney has not only collected, but he has become a major donor of art objects. This culminated in 1992 and 1994, with the donation by Dr. Penney of his Western New York art collection to the Burchfield Art Center. This donation included paintings, sculpture, craft art, Roycroft objects, and 184 works by Charles E. Burchfield. In recognition of this tremendous donation, as well as his on-going support of the arts, the Burchfield Art Center was rededicated as the Burchfield-Penney Art Center in 1994.
Dr. Penney's interest in Western New York art early on led his collecting toward images of the most prominent subject in the region, Niagara Falls. Beginning in 1982, Dr. Penney decided to try to put together as comprehensive a collection as possible of printed images of Niagara Falls. When the Niagara Falls collection went on display at the Castellani Art Museum in the summer of 1993, it was the single largest collection of these images ever assembled. Not only did this quest fit in with his collecting interests, but Dr. Penney felt that by gathering as many Niagara Falls prints together as he could, this would provide scholars and researchers a unique repository of documents for the study of what is perhaps the greatest iconographic subject of American prints. Towards that end, Dr. Penney commissioned a complete listing and scholarly catalogue for his collection, Impressions of Niagara by Christopher W. Lane, and he has now commissioned the creation of this web site which makes the documentation of his collection available to researchers and collectors around the world.
Since the publication of Impressions of Niagara, Dr. Penney has acquired other significant images of the Falls, and this web site includes these new additions, as well as all the prints listed in Impressions of Niagara.. Today Dr. Penney continues his dedication to his many collections, doing the vast majority of the work involved by himself. He is for the most part a one-man curatorial, storage, publicity and research staff, and all this labor is done by hand for Dr. Penney has yet to acquire a computer. Despite his personal abstinence from computers, Dr. Penney is enthused that access to his Niagara Falls print collection will be made available to everyone through the World Wide Web.
[ Index of collection | Listing of prints | Impressions of Niagara ]
©The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd. 2006