About: The Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University acquired The Charles Rand Penney Collection of Historical Niagara Falls Prints in 2006. This collection, a generous donation from Dr. Charles Rand Penney, was partially funded by the Castellani Purchase Fund, with additional funding from Mr. and Mrs. Thomas A. Lytle. Penney felt, as did the staff of the Castellani Art Museum, that the collection, the largest and most significant of its kind, should be kept near the Falls so that visitors from around the world could see and appreciate it. Its more than nine hundred images reflect the historic and cultural changes that have taken place at Niagara Falls since the seventeenth century and illustrate the significance of Niagara Falls to American history.
Penney’s nephew, Christopher W. Lane, co-founder of The Philadelphia Print Shop, organized the collection into seven thematic categories—Hennepin & Derivatives, A Variety of Depictions, Niagara As a Symbol, Popular Prints, Prints for the Wealthy, Extraordinary Events, and Maps. The immense size and fragility of the complete collection precludes a presentation in its entirety. The Lure of Niagara: Highlights from the Charles Rand Penney Historical Niagara Falls Print Collection features works, representative of the larger holdings of the collection that are symbolic, commercially popular, historically relevant, and particularly unique.
It is believed that more prints were made of Niagara Falls before the twentieth century than of any other specific place, and The Charles Rand Penney Collection of Historical Niagara Falls Prints is the largest collection of this genre. Viewing so many images of one subject together, we can gain new insights not only about the location itself, but also about the manner in which the scene has been depicted, emerging with a deeper understanding of the history of Niagara Falls.