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Wyeth's studio to open to public

Andrew Wyeth's humble studio in the picturesque Brandywine Valley isn't something the average day tripper would stumble upon, but the late artist made his wishes loud and clear for anyone who might have found their way down the winding wooded path to his door.

"I AM WORKING SO PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB. I do not sign autographs," announces a small white sign at the entryway.

Now for the first time, the public will be able to get past that sign and venture into Wyeth's world.

Starting July 3, the studio will be open to the public for a handful of tours each day. Timed tickets go on sale June 1.

"He did a great job of keeping the place under wraps," said Christine Podmaniczky, a curator at the Brandywine River Museum.

The fieldstone A-frame structure was built as a schoolhouse in 1875 and purchased by Wyeth's father, the celebrated illustrator N.C. Wyeth, in 1925 when the school closed. Andrew Wyeth married his wife, Betsy, in 1940 and the old schoolhouse became his studio and their home, where they raised their sons Nicholas and Jamie.

They moved to another house nearby in 1961, but Wyeth kept the place as his studio for the remainder of his life.

After Wyeth's death in 2009, his wife donated the studio to the neighboring Brandywine River Museum. Extensive work was necessary before the building could open to tours.

The rooms are both austere and cozy, lacking in decorative flourishes but filled with cherished mementos and personal collections that shed light on Wyeth's inspiration and interests.

The main space where Wyeth did his actual painting is the most bare in the house.

Next to an artist's palette sits an egg crate for making his signature medium -- egg tempera, a thick mixture of yolks, pigment and distilled water. Mary Nell Ferry, a guide who will be walking visitors through the site, said the famous artist's preferred eggs came from a local convenience store.

"He always used Wawa extra-large eggs," she said.