The Penney Gallery and Resource Room
The Penney Gallery is an exhibition gallery located at the Erie Canal Discovery Center, a jewel-in-the-crown of the History Center’s three sites and seven buildings all located within walking distance of each other in Lockport.
It is named in honor and memory of History Center friend, former board president and life member, Charles Rand Penney, who was recognized around the globe as one of the great American collectors of the twentieth century. Prior to his death in 2010, Dr. Penney was the recipient of many awards for his contributions in the field. From humble beginnings, Dr. Penney’s collecting interests grew to include over 100 different themes and 100,000 items, 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 not only enjoyed collecting, but became a major donor of art objects. His philanthropy culminated in the 1990s, with the donation of his Western New York art collection to the Burchfield Art Center at Buffalo State College. This donation included paintings, sculpture, craft art, Roycroft objects, and 184 works by painter Charles E. Burchfield. In recognition of this tremendous donation, the Burchfield Art Center was renamed the Burchfield-Penney Art Center in 1994.
Dr. Penney renewed old ties with The History Center in 2008 when he offered to gift his entire collection of Niagara County art, artifacts and research materials to the History Center. Penney’s Niagara collection of about 5,000 items contained paintings by many well-known area artists like William Storrs, Joe Whalen, Olivia McConnell and Bernitha Melnick, and a large amount of commercial ephemera from the 19th and 20th century. These items include posters, notices and memorabilia related to the Erie Canal and numerous notebooks of items of interest from local businesses, as well as local post cards. Merchandising items of the Seven Sutherland Sisters, local plate collections, Harrison Radiator/ Delphi merchandising and artifacts from local businesses are also included. Many of the items are very unique and give a comprehensive overview of the local history subject matter.