The Beaver Area Heritage Museum is once again ranked in the Top 25 museums in southwestern Pennsylvania by the Pittsburgh Business Times.
Matthew Stanley Quay
Saint or Sinner? You Decide!
Due to popular demand, the Beaver Area Heritage Museum’s national and state-award-winning “Senator Matthew Stanley Quay: Saint or Sinner?” free exhibit will remain open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays from March 18 through end end of November 2023.
The American Association for State and Local History has bestowed the exhibit and companion documentary with a 2023 Award of Excellence, one of 51 this year across the nation honoring people, projects, and exhibits which represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history. Earlier, the Pennsylvania Federation of Museums gave the projects a 2023 Special Achievement Award, one of just eight organizations in the commonwealth to be so recognized.
More than 1,500 guests viewed the display in 2022 and overwhelmingly cast their votes that Quay was more of a sinner than 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 fascinating perspective of his biographer, the late Dr. 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, highly entertaining 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 Dr. Kehl’s best sound bites, including some not shown in the documentary.
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.
Entitled “Matthew Stanley Quay: Saint or Sinner? You Decide!”, the free display features a visually rich display of artifacts educating museum-goers 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 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 on loan from James A. Kehl, Ph.D., age 100, retired University of Pittsburgh dean and author of the biography Boss Rule in the Gilded Age: Matt Quay of Pennsylvania (University of Pittsburgh Press; 1981).
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, 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.
Heritage Valley Health System, The Spanos Group of Raymond James, Pacer Studios and UPMC Health Plan and Wright Construction are the museum’s 2023 corporate sponsors, with GCU furnishing graphics support.
WATCH: Voting Results | Matthew Stanley Quay | Saint or Sinner?
WATCH: Matthew Stanley Quay – Saint? or Sinner? | Documentary