Anthracite Photographers: Photographers of Anthracite

This new temporary exhibition opened December 1st, and traces 140 years of photography both amateur and professional, focused on the landscapes and people of the Anthracite Region. The exhibition was co-curated by Dr. Jennifer Black of Misericordia University, John Fielding and Dr. Bode Morin of the Anthracite Heritage Museum, with contributions from Misericordia student Sarah Sporko. The designation ‘Anthracite Photographer’ was championed by Scott Herring, the last of the Anthracite Photographers. According to Dr. Morin, “All of the members of this group are either from our region or lived here for substantial portions of their lives and share a bond with the people and landscape.” The exhibit features Mr. Herring, as well as George Bretz, William Rau, John Horgan Jr., George Harvan, and Watson Bunnell. While some of their names may not be familiar, many of their iconic photos are.

The exhibit also features ‘Photographers of Anthracite’ which are images shot by people whose primary body of work is secondary to the region such as reformers, historians, or anyone with a cell phone. Dr. Jennifer Black, history professor at Misericordia University says that “labor reformers and photojournalists used photography to document and publicize working conditions, strikes, accidents, child labor, [which] have led directly to social change.”  While social change drove some photographers like Lewis Hines and his well-known images of breaker boys, others like the National Park Service and Berd and Hilla Becher shot to record design and historical details.

We hope you’ll be able to come see this fascinating collection of photos, which are also accompanied by entrants and winners of the accompanying photography contest that ran in conjunction with the exhibition. A catalog of the images on display was also produced for this exhibition and is available at the museum store for $25.


Nicholas Bervinchak: Social Realist Artist of the Coal Mines

On Charter Day, March 10, 2019 at 2 PM, the Anthracite Heritage Museum opened an exhibit of the artwork and associated memorabilia of Ukrainian-American artist Nicholas Bervinchak.

From Red Patch Gallery: Nicholas Bervinchak was born in Mahanoy City, Schuylkill County, Pa. in 1903.  His Ukrainian Lemko parents emigrated from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  They eventually settled with their young family in the Forestville-Primrose area of Cass Township outside of Minersville. Like his father Iwan, Nicholas went to work in the Lytle Colliery of Primrose.  He had a native talent for drawing and wanted to go beyond the dark, dangerous life in the mines. Under the tutelage of the Hungarian-born church muralist Paul Daubner, Nick began his artistic career assisting with the decoration of the newly built Eastern European churches in the county.  He eventually extended his artistic work to etchings, oil and water color paintings that depicted daily life in the Coal Country of Northeast Pennsylvania.  His reputation became world renown and his work still hangs in many prominent museums.  

The exhibition includes 23 Bervinchak etchings along the theme of coal mining and Anthracite Culture. Also on display is artist memorabilia such as newspaper and magazine clippings, text commentary, and original copper etching plates. The artwork and memorabilia are from the collection of Mike Buryk. The exhibition will be on display until July 15.