The Allentown Art Museum’s 2022 Gala Dinner & Auction will be held Saturday, April 9, in the galleries. This year’s esteemed honoree is Dolores A. Laputka, Esq., a leading attorney with Norris McLaughlin, P.A., who has been a member of the Museum’s Board of Trustees, Chair of the Board, and now an active Honorary Trustee.

We asked Dolores about her motivation in supporting the Museum and other nonprofit organizations across the Lehigh Valley, and to reflect on her experiences at the Museum.


Dolores A. Laputka, Esq.

“My desire to be part of and give back to my community was first inspired by my mother,” says Dolores. “She had me ‘hopping’ down the streets of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, in an Easter Bunny outfit at age thirteen to raise funds for Easter Seals—life in Hazleton in the 1960s.

“Later, after moving to the Lehigh Valley in the early 1990s, Rotary and the United Way became a significant part of my life, and I am honored to have worked with them both for many years. In the spring of 2000, the esteemed Leon Holt, a wonderful Lehigh Valley philanthropist, inquired if I would be interested in joining the Board of Trustees of the Allentown Art Museum. Busy as I was with a growing fulltime practice, the United Way, and my family, Leon’s call truly piqued my intellectual curiosity.

“Looking back now, the experience has been far better than I ever could have imagined! Through the years, I have been fortunate enough to visit museums around the globe. However, being in a museum is very different from operating a museum and understanding its inner workings. During my tenure with the Allentown Art Museum Board, I have observed firsthand, the research and physical effort involved in choosing and mounting exhibitions, the brilliance of good curation, the role of a registrar, and the importance of a Museum president being skilled in inspiring others both inside and outside the institution. The educational aspects of art have been equally intriguing. I learned that physicians are sometimes required to take an art class that observes the intricate details of a painting to train their minds to better observe the physical details of their patients, and that the expressing one’s feelings through painting can help the artist address the sorrow of losing a loved one.

“I have met generous, committed individuals from donors and sponsors to staff and volunteers. I’m eternally grateful for the support our Society of the Arts (SOTA) and Auxiliary members perpetually extend to the Museum. As I have said so many times over the last twenty years, the Allentown Art Museum would not exist without the thousands of hours our volunteers have dedicated each year. It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with them.

“It has truly been my honor to be involved with the Allentown Art Museum and all the individuals associated with the Museum. Its impact on my life will be everlasting.”—Dolores A. Laputka, Esq.

“And of course, there is the art itself. The Frank Lloyd Wright Room is a favorite of mine—and of everyone else! Several works in the Museum’s permanent collection stand out in my mind, including the silk-embroidered Morning Sea, Four-Panel Screen (1915) by Seizaburo Kajimoto, and the Museum-commissioned Girl Balancing Knowledge III (2017) by Yinka Shonibare. How often is one affiliated with a museum when it discovers a painting it has owned for decades is an authentic Rembrandt? I remember fondly such special exhibitions as Who Shot Rock ‘n’ Roll (2012), Fabulous Flappers: Fashion from the Ellie Laubner Collection (2013), The Poetry of Nature: Hudson River School Landscapes (2017) . . . and the list goes on. Helping the Museum to share such treasures with residents and visitors right here in the Lehigh Valley makes the memories that much more meaningful to me.

“We have been able to offer to our community free admission on Sundays, thanks to Linny and Beale Fowler. Their generous gift has allowed scores of local and regional visitors to explore the Museum when they might not otherwise have had the opportunity. We enhanced that experience by developing special exhibitions, programs, and community-centered events, such as a full day of activities on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. So many individuals, our valued members as well as those visiting the Museum for the first time on a Free Sunday, have confirmed what a valuable resource it is for all ages.

“Finally, I will highlight the obvious: One of the inspiring benefits of being on the Art Museum Board has been the incredible art that surrounds me every time I walk in the door for a meeting or social gathering. How many other Boards in the Lehigh Valley are discussing next year’s budget in such a magnificent setting?

“It has truly been my honor to be involved with the Allentown Art Museum and all the individuals associated with the Museum. Its impact on my life will be everlasting. Serving the Museum and its many stakeholders in and beyond the Lehigh Valley has truly expanded my world–and continues to give me so much more than I can ever repay.”

—Dolores A. Laputka, Esq.