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BEAVER – Due to popular demand, and for the first time in its 25-year history, the Beaver Area Heritage Museum will carry over an exhibit ― its award-winning “Senator Matthew Stanley Quay: Saint or Sinner?” presentation from last year.
The Quay exhibit will remain open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays through June.
More than 1,500 guests viewed the display in 2022 and overwhelmingly cast their votes that Quay was more of a sinner than a saint in his life’s work. An all-new video documentary, in association with Pacer Studios captures the highlights of Quay’s personality and practices through the perspective of his biographer, the late James A. Kehl of the University of Pittsburgh. Kehl’s sprightly interview was recorded in early 2022, just months before his death at age 100, while the documentary was still in production. The 35-minute video has been posted on the Heritage Foundation’s new YouTube page.
All-new in the exhibit this year is the interactive video touch-screen presentation featuring 17 expanded clips of Kehl’s best sound bites, including some not shown in the documentary.
Next month, the exhibit and documentary will receive a statewide award bestowed by PA Museums in Harrisburg. The River Road Extension museum also has been nominated for a national award from the American Association for State and Local History.
At a time when the nation’s political discourse arguably has never been at a higher pitch, the museum’s Quay exhibit examines a different political era of 125 years ago featuring a former U.S. senator from Beaver who at one time was chairman of the Republican National Committee and is perhaps the town’s most famous resident.
Titled “Matthew Stanley Quay: Saint or Sinner? You Decide!,” the free display features a display of artifacts educating museumgoers on aspects of Quay’s complex life and legacy.
The exhibit includes a wide array of original, vintage photographs and papers from Quay’s life and career, dating from his birth in 1833 to his death in Beaver in 1904. These include more than a dozen political cartoons from some of the country’s leading contemporary newspapers and magazines, images of Quay and his friends and landmark sites, and one-of-a-kind documents.
Additional research was coordinated with the Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation.
Among the exhibit’s highlights are original, large oil-on-canvas paintings of Quay’s parents, the Rev. Anderson and Catherine (McCain) Quay, the father having served as pastor of Beaver’s First Presbyterian Church in the 1840s. The portraits were donated to the museum earlier this year by the church elders and members of the family in memory of Quay’s great-granddaughter, Mary Eaton Chalmers.
Some of the themes on both sides of the Saint/Sinner question include Quay’s Medal of Honor earned at the Civil War’s Battle of Fredericksburg, roles as prothonotary of Beaver County and editor of the Beaver Radical newspaper, tenure as Philadelphia recorder and Pennsylvania state treasurer, relationships with minority groups, friendship with famed British author Rudyard Kipling and work behind-the-scenes in the successful presidential election campaigns of Benjamin Harrison and Theodore Roosevelt.
This article originally appeared on Beaver County Times: Beaver Museum’s award-winning Quay exhibit to stay open through June