The Allentown Art Museum was established through a grassroots effort led by the teacher, painter, and critic Walter Emerson Baum (1886-1956). Founded and incorporated during the Great Depression (1934 and 1939 respectively), the Museum served the local community for twenty years in a city-owned, Federal-style house primarily exhibiting the works of area artists.


Walter Emerson Baum in his studio.

In 1960 and 1961, a gift of 53 Renaissance and Baroque paintings and sculptures from Samuel H. Kress–a native of nearby Cherryville, PA–brought the Museum to a new level. The Kress gift stimulated community visionaries and Museum friends to purchase and refurbish a building suitable to house the new collection. The Museum stands on that location today.

In 1975, an expansion to the building was completed to enhance the Museum’s programs and collecting plans. At the time, the Museum installed a room designed by Frank Lloyd Wright as part of its permanent collection.

The 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 the founder of Allentown, set the benchmark for the qualitative standards of the collection.

From 2010 to 2011, the Museum underwent renovation to include approximately ten thousand more square feet of gallery, storage, and public space. Another 25 thousand square feet of existing facility was also refurbished.


A present day view of the Museum.

Today, the Allentown Art Museum embraces our broad audiences. We offer variety and quality in our collections and exhibitions, educational programs, and public events. The Museum’s collection of more than twenty thousand works of art offers our community the opportunity to experience nearly two thousand years of cultural heritage in an accessible and visitor-friendly environment.


Land Acknowledgment

The Allentown Art Museum is located in Lënapehòkink, the unceded homeland of the Lenape people. We acknowledge the seizure of this land from the Lenape—and their continuing displacement—as a result of the fraudulent Walking Purchase of 1737.

Today, Lenape descendants include the following sovereign nations: Delaware Nation, the Delaware Nation at Moraviantown, the Delaware Tribe, the Munsee-Delaware Nation, and the Stockbridge-Munsee Community.

We recognize and respect the Lenape people’s enduring connection to this land and honor their thriving communities, past, present, and future. In accordance with our mission of sharing global artistic traditions, we commit ourselves to the ongoing process of creating space for inclusion and collaboration