When it came to Pennsylvania’s outdoors, there was little Ned Smith didn’t experience. He hiked, hunted and fished.
He filled volumes of loose-leaf binders with notes and drawings of his observations, turning them into magazine columns and, ultimately a book, “Gone for the Day.”
He was an avid photographer and dabbled with archeological digs along the Susquehanna River.
Smith is best known as one of Pennsylvania’s — and the nation’s — most recognized wildlife artists. Though totally self-taught, his attention to detail and his skills with brushes, pen and ink, and other media brought him widespread recognition. During his 46-year career, Smith’s work was a fixture in Pennsylvania Game News and appeared in National Wildlife, National Geographic and other magazines. Today, original Ned Smith paintings can sell for tens of thousands of dollars.
Smith’s Renaissance man legacy did not die with him in 1985. His widow, Marie, along with friends and fans, created the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art, an organization dedicated to blending the worlds of nature, science and art.
Today, visitors to the Ned Smith Center, located just outside Smith’s hometown of Millersburg, can experience Smith’s diverse legacy.
A permanent exhibition building, opened in fall 2004, features the Ned Smith Gallery, which highlights some of Smith’s most famous works, and the Olewine Gallery, a changing showcase highlighting the work of wildlife artists from around the country. An exhibit also features winners of the center’s annual Youth Wildlife Art Contest.
To get the full Ned Smith experience, visitors should bring their hiking boots and explore the center’s more than 500 acres of lands which extend from the banks of Wiconisco Creek to the top of Berry Mountain — lands Smith explored on his local adventures and that feature hardwood forests, a hemlock grove, meadows, wetlands and abundant wildlife.
Pick the right day, and visitors can catch a program highlighting wildlife, science, the center’s saw-whet owl research, local history or — true to its mission of blending science and the arts — music, ballet or plays at its amphitheater.
Visit the Ned Smith Center for the 2015 Nature and Arts Festival
- The Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art is located in Millersburg, PA, about a half hour north of Harrisburg on Route 147.
- To reach the center, take Route 209 east at the town square to Water Company Road, and turn right. Admission to the galleries is $7 for adults, $2 for seniors and free for ages 12 and younger. Admission is free on Fridays.
- The Ned Smith Center’s annual Nature and Arts Festival takes place 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 25 at Millersburg’s MYO Park and at the center. The festival features vendors selling wildlife art and crafts; children’s activities; musical performers and numerous programs highlighting endangered bats, honeybees, Indian artifacts, lumberjacks, edible wild plants, bluebirds, reptiles, and much more. Admission is free.
- For details about the center, the festival or upcoming events, call 717-692-3699 or visit www.nedsmithcenter.org.