How we came to be

More than 200 years ago, a Pennsylvania German tanner named Daniel Royer bought 150 acres of land along the Antietam Creek. Here he and his family established an industrial farmstead. Many of the original buildings and much of the original landscape remain from Royer’s time.

Today we know the Royer farmstead as Renfrew Museum and Park. In 1990 Renfrew Museum and Park created The Institute (then called Renfrew Institute for Cultural & Environmental Studies) as a separate nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational organization, primarily to continue the development and funding of school programs.

For more than 30 years, The Institute has created and delivered programs for students of all ages, providing opportunities to learn about their cultural and natural heritage.

As interest in the school programs soared, so did the development of additional programs and workshops for adults and older teens. Weekend events and festivals for families were created and summer programs and workshops became part of the Institute experience.

Research in cultural history and natural science are ongoing at the Institute. Studies include research on the American chestnut tree, bluebird nesting practices, native and invasive plant species, Pennsylvania German food culture of the 1800s, water quality in the Antietam Creek, watersheds and wetlands, colonial textiles, and historic buildings.

Moving on, moving forward…

The Institute is still evolving—answering the environmental and cultural education needs of an engaged and curious public. In 2020,
The Institute—after celebrating its 30th anniversary—left the Renfrew property—like a mature 30-year-old, “leaving home” is the best way to ensure continued growth. Join us as we work together to create experiences that educate, inspire and unite!

To read more about why The Institute left the Renfrew property, click here. 

“The Institute continues to offer quality environmental and cultural programs to the students and adults of Waynesboro. We are lucky to have such a valuable asset to our community.”

Bill & Debbie Pflager, members