Allentown Art Museum

The Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley is an art museum located in Allentown, Pennsylvania.[2] It was founded in 1934 by a group organized by noted Pennsylvania impressionist painter, Walter Emerson Baum. With its collection of over 19,000 works of art, the Allentown Art Museum is a major regional art institution. In addition, its library and archives of more than 16,000 titles and 40 current periodicals make it an important regional cultural resource.

Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley
Allentown Art Museum, Pennsylvania.jpg
Allentown Art Museum, July 2008
Location31 N. 5th Street
Allentown, Pennsylvania USA
DirectorMax Weintraub[1]
Public transit accessBus transport LANTA bus: 102, 107, 209, 210, 220, 324

Founding of the museumEdit

The Allentown Art Museum, founded originally as the Allentown Art Gallery and organized by Baum, opened in Allentown's Hunsicker School on March 17, 1934. With seventy canvases by local Pennsylvania impressionist artists on display, the gallery attracted major attention from the local and regional art communities. During the Great Depression, Baum was able to grow the collection through the Public Works of Art Project and through acquisitions and gifts. In June 1936, the City of Allentown granted the museum a permanent home in a federal-style house located in the Rose Garden in Allentown's Cedar Park. The museum's first curator was local artist John E. Berninger, who lived with his wife on the museum's second floor.

The Kress endowmentEdit

In 1959, a gift of fifty-three Renaissance and Baroque paintings and sculptures from Samuel H. Kress (a native of nearby Cherryville, Pennsylvania) brought the museum to a new level. The Kress gift stimulated community visionaries and museum friends to purchase and refurbish a building, formerly the First Presbyterian Church (originally built 1902), suitable to house the new collection.

In 1960, the Kress gift was featured in the museum's first major catalog, "The Samuel H. Kress Memorial Collection", written by Richard Hirsch, the institution's first director. In his introduction, Hirsch's observed how the "fleeting imagery of TV" changed perceptions of the works in the collection. When created, they were not merely one of many representations of religious figures, but the figures themselves.[3] Hirsch's observations portend the Slow Movement arising more than 25 years later encouraging a renewed, attentive appreciation of the world, including fine art. The museum began featuring "Slow Art" days in 2011 to acknowledge the benefits of quiet, intense reflection.

In 1975, an Edgar Tafel-designed expansion to the building was completed to enhance the museum's programs and collecting plans. At that time, the Museum installed a room designed by Frank Lloyd Wright as part of its permanent collection: the library from the second Francis W. Little House. Another room from that house can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

2010–2011 expansionEdit

In 2010, the museum began a $15.4 million expansion project, designed by architecture firm Venturi Scott Brown of Philadelphia, to renovate the museum, add 7,900 square feet (730 m2) of new classroom and gallery space, corner cafe, expanded gift shop, and add a new all-glass facade to the Fifth Street side of the facility. The expansion, which is the museum's first since 1975, was initially proposed in 1999 and is a significant reduction from the $32 million, 45,000-square-foot (4,200 m2) addition originally planned.[4] Approximately 40% of the new space is gallery space.[5]

Current collectionEdit

The Allentown Art Museum's collection, still largely defined by European paintings in 1975, expanded with a large collection of textiles and another gift of works on paper. The 1978 acquisition of Gilbert Stuart's beguiling portrait of Ann Penn Allen (granddaughter of William Allen, the founder of the museum's native Allentown), set the benchmark for the qualitative standards of the collection.

In 2016 the museum under the leadership of then director David Mickenberg acquired from the Lehighton, Pennsylvania American Legion post "Lehighton" a mural by Franz Kline which the artist created for the aforementioned branch of the U.S Veterans organization.[6] Then following intensive the work on the mural by "Luca Bonetti Painting Restoration" the restored painting was unveiled to the public in January 2017.[7]

Portrait of a Young Lady by RembrandtEdit

On February 10, 2020 Portrait of a Young Lady (1632) by Rembrandt from the museum's collection is announced as authentic following having been reassessed after conservation.[8]

European artEdit

American artEdit

  • Ann Penn Allen, Gilbert Stuart (1795)
  • Niagara Falls, Gustav Johann Grunewald (1834)
  • Floriform Vase, Tiffany Studios (1905)


  • Bed Curtain (Palampore), India, Coromandel Coast (1775)
  • Table Cover, Margaret Oothout (1764)

Prints and drawingsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Press, The (2013-10-30). "Art Museum names new president-CEO – Lehigh Valley Press". Retrieved 2021-01-21.
  2. ^ Moser, John (12 April 2014). "New president of the Allentown Art Museum is rolling out the welcome mat". The Morning Call. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  3. ^ The Samuel H. Kress Memorial Collection of the Allentown Art Museum. Allentown, Pa. The Museum, 1960
  4. ^ Moser, John J. (April 24, 2010), "Art museum plans smaller expansion ** Economy hurts fundraising, but a $15.4 million project is set to begin next month.", The Morning Call, pp. A.1
  5. ^ Sozanski, Edward (August 15, 2010), "Art: What is art's place in the picture?", The Philadelphia Inquirer
  6. ^ "Picture of the region's past now forever preserved | Lehigh Valley Regional News". 2017-02-01. Retrieved 2021-01-21.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-01-28. Retrieved 2017-05-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ News, Artnet. "A Small Pennsylvania Museum Just Discovered It Has Owned a Rembrandt for 70 Years Without Knowing It". Retrieved 2021-01-21. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  9. ^ Allentown finds it has a Rembrandt in its art museum, The Philadelphia Inquirer

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 40°36′15″N 75°28′05″W / 40.6043°N 75.4680°W / 40.6043; -75.4680