Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley
Tracey Werner: Welcome to this edition of Lehigh Valley Visions. I’m Tracey Werner and today we’re taking a tour of the Allentown Art Museum in the city’s downtown district.
The museum was founded in 1934, which means, if I’ve done my math correctly, it’s celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. So come along with me and let’s take a tour. Da-da-da, da-da-da.
We’ll start in Founder’s Gallery, which was the museums original gallery, before was an addition was added in the 1970’s, which tripled its size. This space was actually a church when the museum purchased it in 1958 to display the Kress collection of Old Master paintings.
I love the vibrant colors and embroidery on this Chinese robe. It says here, it’s from the 1870’s and it’s made of silk damask. Isn’t it beautiful? Then again, these Mary McFadden dresses are pretty nice too. Actually, I have one at home just like it.
One of the art museum’s biggest treasures is this library, designed by none other than famed architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. It actually came from a house he designed in Wayzata, Minnesota in 1914. But it was unfortunately demolished around 1972. But his room was preserved. And here is an interesting connection; in the early 70’s, the museum hired an architect by the name of Edgar Tafel, he was a prodigy of Wrights. To design this wing you see behind me. Well, it turned out that Tafel played a key role in getting this library into this art museum.
Also located on the museums first floor is the Trexler Butz Gallery, which is home to a variety of artistic styles of American 20th century art. That includes everything from landscapes and portraits, to large scale abstract paintings and conceptual art.
I love these metal sculptures by Harry Bertoia, he was actually from Pennsylvania and lived not far from Lehigh Valley. But here’s what really cool about them. They’re not just beautiful to look at, they actually make music. They’re sun sculptures and what Harry Bertoia called sun ambient. I’d love to hear them played. Maestro, if you would?
The Kress Gallery on the museums second floor is one of its changing exhibit galleries. It’s currently featuring an important exhibit called “Monet to Matisse”. It’s all post impressionist and impressionist artwork. I think my favorite was Monet. He’s right over here. Greg Perry tells us why this exhibit is so important for Lehigh Valley.
Greg Perry: Well it’s important for Lehigh Valley because it’s the first time we have ever had a French Impressionist show here. And the show is a great survey of the entire movement, starting in 1869; the first year that Claude Monet created a work in what we call the Impressionist Style. It includes that work, as well as the one we have in front of us here; it was a more mature Impressionist style. We also have Master works by Renoir, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Cezanne, and Gauguin. By coming here, you can see these 30 pieces; all Master works in their own right. It’ll be here until May 3rd and you’ll get a good sampling of what impressionist means and what the whole movement was like.
Tracey Werner: They are so beautiful. Thanks, Greg. Everybody, this is Arty the tortoise. He’s an important character to know, here at the museum, because he lives up here in Art Ways, on the second floor, and he keeps an eye on the kids that come here for all the educational programs the art museum offers. Featuring activity space stations and art projects, themed around the museums special exhibits, this learning center is a popular spot for the entire family.
Oh, hey, you caught me doing a little post tour shopping in the art museum store? I’m just picking up the usuals, you know, some beautiful jewelry, some educational toys for the kids and even some home decor items.
So, the tour is over, I’m going to sign off from here and keep shopping. So thanks for joining me for this edition of Lehigh Valley Visions. Oh look, purses.
For more information on the Allentown Art Museum, visit allentownartmuseum.org or call 610-432-4333.