WHO we are
Society of the Arts (SOTA) is a nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1964 with a mission to support the Allentown Art Museum's presentation of outstanding artistic programs. Throughout the year, the SOTA offers a number of public events, including docent tours, art activities for children and families, Luncheon with the Authors, the SOTA Showhouse, and more. Throughout our fifty-year history, SOTA has contributed generously to the Allentown Art Museum. Our gifts have included funds for the purchase of more than 350 prints for the Museum’s collections through the SOTA Print Fund, the creation of the SOTA Education Endowment, and financial support for “Free Sundays,” “Art Ways” and other Museum educational needs. Society of the Arts is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
SOTA is dedicated to advancing and promoting the mission of the Allentown Art Museum, in our community and beyond.
OUR HISTORY: The first fifty years
Serendipity played a role in the founding of SOTA. In 1961, Richard Hirsch, the first director of the Allentown Art Museum, and his wife Betty were delayed in Washington, D.C., on their way to an AMA convention. They met a woman from the Corcoran Gallery who was going to the convention as a representative to a new organization, the Volunteer Committees of Art Museums (VCAM). This sparked an idea for Betty – to form a volunteer group of women from the community to support the Allentown Museum.
SOTA grew from a creative idea into a vibrant, committed organization that has served the Allentown Art Museum for 50 years, always true to its mission “to cooperate with and further the policies and service programs of the Allentown Art Museum and to contribute to the educational, cultural and social life of the Lehigh Valley.”
From the early days, when members prepared hundreds of hors d’oeuvres for Museum parties, to car shows, docent tours, Show Houses and galas, SOTA has contributed to the artistic, financial, social and educational life of the Museum. This history will relate some of the challenges, dedicated work, accomplishments, fun and friendship that SOTA members have experienced over the past half century.
Presidents during this time were Rusty Young, Joanne Egan, Katrina (Pete) Huyett, Susan McAdoo Barr, Sally MacGowan and Rosemarie Rebar.
In 1963, Billie Davis, a member of the Allentown Art Museum Board of Trustees, gathered a group of women who would be “sponsors” to ensure the financial stability of the Museum’s new volunteer organization. These women recruited other community leaders to join them on a Steering Committee. In true SOTA fashion, Ms. Davis then invited other interested women to an elegant champagne reception to launch the volunteer group.
The Steering Committee liked the name of a Florida society called The Society FOR the Arts. A member, June Holt, suggested adapting it to The Society OF the Arts and "SOTA" was born.
The first organizational meeting of SOTA was in April of 1964. A slate of officers was proposed with Rusty (Campbell) Young as president. The other officers included Jane (Mrs. T.E.) Weaver, vice president; Pat (Mrs. William) Schantz, recording secretary; Lila (Mrs. S. H.) Wills, corresponding secretary, and Jeanne (Mrs. Myron) Lerner, treasurer. There were 60 original members in SOTA (with a maximum of 100), nine committees formed and dues set at $5.00!
The original committees were Docent, Museum Membership, Museum Assistants, Nominating, Personnel, Program, Social, Admissions and Children’s Saturday Morning Program. The chairmen of these committees, plus a Museum appointee, formed the board.
The importance of Sustainers was recognized in 1966 when a new by-law stated that members who reached age 40 could remain active or choose to retire.
The original purpose of SOTA’s fundraising was for capital improvements to the Museum. Richard Hirsch foresaw that it was key that SOTA’s fundraising efforts go toward a specific goal. He knew the importance of a print fund for the Museum, so at his suggestion, the membership voted in 1966 to form a SOTA Print Fund.
The first major fundraising event was a formal buffet to open an Iranian exhibit that raised $1,200. In the next two years, opening parties raised $1,206 ($15 a person) in 1967 and almost $1,500 for the Print Fund (at $25 a person) in 1968.
During the first four years, SOTA members managed the Museum’s membership drives, were required to man the front desk during the week, and even painted the auditorium. Docents gave tours in the Museum and also took artifacts from Williamsburg to Allentown and Bethlehem schools. The Saturday Morning Children’s Program, later called the Adventure Club, was a big success.
The first SOTA Showhouse was in 1973 on Market Street in Bethlehem. It previewed with a champagne reception and opened to the public with an admission charge of $3. It raised over $13,000, designated for the expansion of the Museum.
SOTA celebrated its 10th anniversary in 1974 with what was planned to be a fancy picnic by the pool at Willowbrook Farm, the home of Alex and Tom Fuller. However, torrential rain sent guests hurrying inside.
In September, 1975, the Museum closed for expansion. In traditional creative style, SOTA sponsored “Museum Day on the Mall,” with art-related activities along Hamilton Street, which was closed to traffic. We brought the Museum to the people with a puppet show, a children’s art corner, a Texture Tunnel, docent talks on American painting, and a slide show about the Museum. During the event, SOTA gave away 700 balloons and 550 Museum membership packets.
The Museum reopened on December 3, 1975, with a press preview, which was followed by a black tie gala dinner for Museum members, preview receptions for city and county officials and, for the construction crew, and open houses for Museum members. SOTA was busy! A special guest at the opening was Architect Edgar Tafel, who also gave a lecture and signed his book, Apprentice to Genius, Years with Frank Lloyd Wright.
At the request of Museum Director Richard Gregg, SOTA members planned and staffed the first Holiday Gallery in 1976. It featured original paintings, prints and crafts, a shop with hand-made and unique gifts and a tearoom. All proceeds from the Holiday Gallery went to the Museum’s building fund.
A highlight at the beginning of SOTA’s second decade was “Discover Old Allentown” which included a Victorian Showhouse on North 8th Street in the Old Allentown Preservation area and a walking tour of “The Streets of Old Allentown.” The tour committee spent months researching the buildings and walking the area to study the architecture. A guide was written and all education committee members were trained to conduct tours for the public. After the conclusion of the 8th Street Showhouse, which netted $12,000, SOTA offered the popular “Walking” Tours to the public for several years.
SOTA presidents were Marion Stavin, Tillie Vastine and Judie Freeman.
SOTA spiced up the Museum when members served a selection of Indian food for the October, 1978, opening of the exhibit, “The Sensuous Line: Drawings and Paintings from India, 1650-1820.” A Polaroid camera was purchased to capture memories of such events!
The 1978-79 yearbook was dedicated to the memory of Mary Alice Miller who had originated the yearbook idea for SOTA.
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Museum at its present site, dozens of SOTA members spent thousands of hours compiling and publishing a cookbook, Culinary Arts. The cookbook, copyrighted in 1979, was so popular that it had two printings.
In January, 1979, a new Junior Gallery opened with a theme of color and texture. This was followed by “Nightlife on Bourbon Street,” a February party for the opening of “American Art from the Collection” that entertained 725 guests and netted $4,000.
The Holiday Gallery was such a success that the Museum trustees voted to build a year-round sales gallery for the SOTA Foyer. Members of SOTA and the Museum Auxiliary were asked to help staff the new gift shop.
Educational committees were very busy in 1978-79. Docents lectured to 11,500 students and Troupers gave 971 lectures to 2,657 children. SOTA docents worked with Museum staff to write an educational pamphlet for the exhibit, “Aspects of Ancient Greece.” The opening reception made a profit of $2,000 and 3,500 students visited the exhibit.
Museum trustees purchased service for 100 in china, glassware and flatware to meet SOTA’s growing hospitality responsibilities. From late December, 1979, until March, 1980, SOTA prepared and served refreshments at the exhibits of “Ten Pennsylvania Artists;;” “Pictures From a Small Planet” and “The Valley Collects Americana, 1780-1880,” which featured a Victorian-themed opening.
The upper age for SOTA candidates was raised from 37 to 40 effective in 1980.
Also, that year, the Liefrinck prints Poor Kitchen and Rich Kitchen in the SOTA collection were dedicated to Anna Rodale, in appreciation for her ongoing generosity and support of the arts.
SOTA members used their creative talents to host a variety of openings in 1980 and 1981: an Italian Renaissance party for “Beyond Nobility: Art for the Private Citizen in the Early Renaissance;;” a speakeasy for “The Phillips collection in the Making, 1920-1930,” and a western O’Clay Corral party for “A Century of Ceramics, 1878-1978.”
SOTA participated in a celebration of women at Muhlenberg College titled “Women Look at Women: Feminist Arts for the 1980s.” The featured artist was Judy Chicago who brought an international quilt honoring women. The Museum paid tribute to Kate Fowler Merle-Smith by contributing a triangle to the quilt made from materials she donated to the Museum.
In 1980-81, Troupers gave lectures to 2,127 students and the Community Services tour was rewritten and presented to 190 people.
There was much discussion about the SOTA Print Fund with some members preferring to purchase paintings and sculpture. Peter Blume, then Chief Curator, and Mimi Miley, Curator of Education, believed that SOTA’s greatest contribution to the Museum was the purchase of quality prints and helped to educate the membership about the value of the print collection. In March 1982, SOTA voted to appropriate two-thirds of fundraising revenue for the purchase of prints, with the guidelines to be reviewed in five years. A major purchase that year was Diogenes, a woodcut by Ugo da Carpi that cost $14,000.
Exhibits in 1981 included “Turkish Treasures from the Collection of Edwin Binney 3rd” and “Miniatures in Decorative Arts,” which attracted more than 300 people to a Victorian Christmas opening. SOTA staged a black-tie party with cocktails, a buffet and music by Rob Stoneback for the 1982 exhibit, “Late 20th Century Art: From the Sydney and Francis Lewis Foundation.” The cost was only $20 a person! Experts from Christie’s Auction House were here for “Heirloom Appraisal Days” in March of 1983. SOTA held a Patron’s Party for this event, a huge success with great newspaper coverage.
A major print purchase was The Temptation of St. Anthony dedicated to the memory of Richard Hirsch, the Museum’s first director.
SOTA’s second decade ended with renovations to the Junior Gallery and the Founders Gallery. SOTA allocated $5,000 to the building fund, held a “Construction Party” in March and a gala for the rededication of the Founders Gallery. Despite the construction, SOTA continued to give tours and help the Museum staff with exhibits, including “Art of the Comic Strip,” “20th Century Sculpture from the Guggenheim Museum” and the “Juried Regional Show.”
The Junior Program Committee also planned and staged the 5th Street Creativity Festival, attracting families from throughout the Lehigh Valley.
On June 1, 1984, Richard Gregg resigned as director of the Museum and Peter Blume was named acting director.
1984-1994 SOTA presidents were Inese Ardolino, Terrie Ferretti, Sandra Eberting, Shirlee Neumeyer and Susan Gadomski.
SOTA’s third decade started with a successful two-day opening for the new Max Hess Junior Gallery.
The Merle-Smith family endowed the Museum staff position of The Kate Fowler Merle-Smith Curator of Textiles. In April, 1985, the Museum featured “A Collection of American Quilts: Homage to Amanda.” Inspired by this exhibit, SOTA purchased Apple Family, a wood block print on cotton probably used as a bedcover, as an addition to the print collection.
In October, 1985, SOTA sponsored the “Masterpieces on Wheels Antique and Classic Car Show.” In anticipation of the car show, the “Automobilia” exhibit showed auto hood ornaments, decals and décor and SOTA members organized and modeled in a Fashion Show of Antique and Vintage clothing from 1890-1950. SOTA members were busy during the previous year with underwriting, research of cars and planning for the preview party. This innovative event included a Preview Party hosting 400 guests and a profitable program booklet. Local car connoisseurs Bernie Berman and Arnold Rappoport advised on the selection of cars for the show that generated much community excitement and media coverage.
SOTA continued the car theme with the Great Lehigh Valley Auto Fair again held in Allentown’s Agriculture Hall. Mario Andretti was honorary chairman for the April, 1987 event. The Preview Party had almost 700 guests and netted over $20,000. Allen High School Key Club members helped fill slots at the Auto Fair, which also featured a craft show, a sports car rally and live broadcast on WAEB.
Also in 1986, members of the Docents, Special Projects and Junior Program committees worked together for the ArtSpace birthday party.
Troupers rewrote their lecture to include Japan rather than China since many schools did not cover China in the curriculum.
“Confections and Cappuccino with Christie’s” was the enticing title of the preview party for the two-day Christie’s Appraisal Days at the Museum in April of 1988. An article in The Morning Call noted that “more than 400 people waited at the Allentown Art Museum for the chance to learn the value of their items...and to learn from some of the best people in the business, appraisers from Christie’s Auction Gallery in New York.”
In 1988, the recommendation that SOTA members must be 21with no mandatory upper age limitation was approved by the general membership. The threshold for Sustaining members was also lowered from 10 to 8 years at that time.
SOTA honored Museum staff member and friend Dave Miller with a retirement party and presented him with a monetary gift and a caricature.
In 1988, a donation from the SOTA Print Fund, combined with other contributions received in memory of Richard N. Gregg, Director of the Museum from 1972- 1984, was used to purchase Giulio Bonasone’s Nativity.
In 1988-1989, the Kress Society was founded under the leadership and suggestion of AAM Board Trustee Al Douglass. The fledgling organization grew to be an integral part of Museum support. With increased and successful development of membership in the Kress Society ranks, SOTA member Pat Sherman later aided with administrative duties related to the Kress Society.
More than 800 people attended the 1989 talk by Martha Stewart at the Holiday Inn in Fogelsville. The celebrity guest arrived 90 minutes late and asked to change her clothes. SOTA President Sandy Eberting told her to “get in there and speak in your brown suit and stay late to autograph books.” Ms. Stewart obeyed and then had her driver take her to Walp’s Restaurant for Pennsylvania scrapple!
The Showhouse that year was at 1818 Hamilton Street near Osteopathic Hospital (now St. Luke’s Allentown). Students from Lehigh County VoTech helped with some of the preparations for the Showhouse, such as removing wallpaper and painting. The preview party was at the Museum, with trolley rides to the house provided by the Downtown Improvement District Authority.
SOTA members assisted 450 attendees at events held during the MidAtlantic Museum Directors’ Conference at the Museum in October, 1989.
The years 1989-1990 marked celebrations for the Museum’s 30th year on Fifth Street and SOTA’s 25th birthday. The campaign for a party and a gift to the Museum to celebrate SOTA’s anniversary was called “$25 for 25.” The occasion generated much local media attention with articles in The Morning Call and radio and television interviews with SOTA members. In honor of the 25th Anniversary, SOTA purchased the 16th century print by Giorgio Ghisi, The Judgement of Paris. SOTA donated more than 10,000 hours of service to the Museum in 1988-1990.
In addition to their committee responsibilities, SOTA volunteers helped the Museum in a variety of ways in 1990 and 1991: they assisted at the annual Educators’ Reception;; curatorial members helped with the PA Photographers’ Juried Show, and Apprentices planned for the Fifth Street Creativity Festival.
"Julie Russo’s Entertaining Kitchen: In Fitness and in Health” was the title of a SOTA-sponsored event featuring noted cookbook author Julie Russo. Co-author of The Silver Palate series, Russo gave a cooking demonstration in November, 1991, at Allentown’s Symphony Hall, followed by a reception at the Museum.
Continuing with this theme, SOTA’s Culinary Arts II cookbook was published and raised $6,000 in four months.
The 1992 Showhouse was at the home of Linny and Beale Fowler on Center Street in Bethlehem. Alexandra Stoddard, author of Living a Beautiful Life, was honorary chairperson. The Showhouse had 8,000 visitors and made over $93,000 profit with $60,400 designated for the Print Fund. SOTA purchased 20 prints by Harry Bertoia, which were later on display in the State Capitol in Harrisburg.
In 1992, SOTA was featured on the front page of the VCAM newsletter and won The Morning Call Spirit Award.
SOTA members helped to educate more than 4,000 children and adults in 1992.
The 1993 Gala was held during the Japanese Print exhibit and honored the Merle- Smith Family.
1993 was a banner year for the Museum. Crowds came to the Ansel Adams and Putt Modernism exhibits; there was a record attendance of 1,100 people for Family Day and September attendance was the highest in Museum history to date.
The 1994 SOTA Showhouse at 2933 Turner Street in Allentown attracted 500 guests in the first three days.
SOTA Presidents were Trisha Girling, Lari Perovich, Karen Shorts, Joan Fuller and Nancy Ritter
In November, 1994, SOTA was honored for its years of fundraising and service to the Museum at the annual Philanthropy Day awards luncheon.
The following year, SOTA helped the Museum through difficult financial times with a loan from the Print Fund. One half was forgiven and the other half would be returned to the fund interest free by the year 2000.
SOTA volunteers gave more than 2,800 hours to the 1996 Showhouse “Edgemont” and it made over $60,000.
Mimi Miley, Chief Curator of the Museum and SOTA’s dear friend and supporter, died on July 14, 1995. The Museum board established the Mimi Fund in her memory, with the income to support AAM programs for children. SOTA donated $20,000 of the 1996 Showhouse profits to the Mimi Fund.
SOTA was honored by the Allentown Arts Commission at the Arts Ovation luncheon on May 8, 1997. That year, the name of Troupers was changed to Field Docents.
Days of heavy rain, muddy feet and a preview party under a rain-soaked tent were challenges for the 1998 Showhouse, “The Youngkins House” in Lower Macungie Township. It had a profit of $90,000.
A report was given to the Policy Committee by a task force that had been meeting from 1996-98 to “look at the changing roles of SOTA’s membership and the needs of the Museum...to find ways to bring SOTA into the 21st Century.”
The Museum board and staff gave a party to celebrate SOTA’s 35th anniversary in November, 1999.
In 2000, SOTA begins to send representatives to the Triennial VCAM Conference. Joan Fuller and Nancy Ritter attended the conference held in Detroit. VCAM is a national association established for and run by Art Museum volunteers for mutual education through communication. Attendance at the conferences helped SOTA broaden its view through interaction with other regional and national organizations.
In 2001, SOTA formed a task force to meet the responsibility and honor of developing the Allentown Arts Park.
The 2002 Designer Showhouse, a Pennsylvania German farmhouse in Lower Macungie Township, enabled a donation to the Print Fund of over $69,300.
The 2003 Governor's Awards were held at Symphony Hall with a reception following at the Museum. SOTA volunteers were assigned to each painting to help protect it from wayward elbows of the hundreds of guests crowding the Museum during the reception. Additionally, forty SOTA cookbooks were in gift baskets for the VIPs at the party.
In 2003, David Brigham was named Museum Director and SOTA volunteers surveyed Museum visitors as part of the reaccreditation process. SOTA donated $5,000 to ARTWAYS and $15,000 as the premier sponsor of the exhibit, “Treasures of the Lehigh Valley.”
SOTA Presidents were Sally Vikner, Jan Parsley, Lorrie Harper, Molly Faust and Teri Johnson
This decade began with SOTA being asked to be an integral partner in fundraising for the Museum’s Capital Campaign. The first Past President’s luncheon was held to enlighten the group about plans and build enthusiasm for the new Museum addition, renovation and expansion.
Allentown Art Museum Adjunct Print Curator, Starr Siegele, organized a wonderful exhibition of “Women Printmakers” from a subset of SOTA prints to celebrate SOTA’s 40th anniversary.
The monies raised from the 2004 Designer Showhouse and Gardens made it possible to purchase a print by Cornelis Bos entitled Roman Trophy, and support “Free Sundays” with a gift of $25,000.
Docents started a new two year training program that provided the necessary training and credibility docents needed to meet public school education standards to lead school children on museum tours. Meanwhile Field Docents rolled out their new marketing program with new tours to the school children in outlying counties.
The space directly across the street from the Museum went out to bid for contractors to tear down the existing old parking deck and transfer the area into the wonderful Arts Park we know today. The park was to be completed in twelve months. Bernie Berman, then President of the AAM Board of Trustees, personally paid for the mural to be painted on the back wall of Symphony Hall as the project progressed. SOTA saw the completion of the Arts Park in the summer of 2006. Bernie Berman never got to see the completion of the park he so aptly helped SOTA navigate from the County Executive Jane Baker to SOTA, under the administration of Joan Fuller, to the city of Allentown in 2006. Bernie died quietly that May. His guidance to SOTA, regarding the park’s deed and his vision for a place that all could enjoy, ignited the start of the downtown Allentown Cultural Center.
After the death in 2004 of dedicated docent and Museum Board of Directors member Debbie Haight, SOTA started the SOTA Memorial Fund to remember volunteers. A $100 donation to the fund would be made by SOTA for any deceased member.
Museum Director David Brigham asked SOTA to underwrite the development of the AAM Print Collection Plan. Starr Siegele completed the plan for a collection dating from the late 14th Century to the 18th Century, in 2005 which gave direction and credence to the quality and kinds of prints purchased.
SOTA members met many times over the course of Sally’s administration to discuss how SOTA would go forward with its commitment to the Museum’s Capital Campaign. It was felt any gift given would need to reflect our support to educational programs and prints. We would need to amend our By-Laws to direct fundraising money out of the purchase of prints and give to the Capital Campaign. It was decided that $100,000 would be contributed to the SOTA Education Endowment. This would ensure SOTA’s commitment was not to bricks and mortar, but rather the ongoing educational programs of the Museum. Article XIII of SOTA’s By-Laws was amended to allow distribution of the 2006 Designer Showhouse profits and other subsequent profits to fulfill our pledge to the Capital Campaign. The By-Law would revert back to the 2/3 - 1/3 distribution of funds to the Print Fund after the money was raised. With the overwhelming success of the Breinigsville Showhouse, SOTA didn’t have to dip into print fund money and our commitment to the Museum’s ongoing educational programs was complete. The By-Law reverted back to pre-amendment status.
Four SOTA volunteers attended the Volunteer Committees of ART Museums (VCAM) Conference in San Francisco in the fall of 2006, bringing home new ideas and pride in SOTA’s accomplishments.
There was a media blitz and much celebration with the unveiling of the Rembrandt print, Peter and John Healing the Cripple at the Gate of the Temple, which SOTA purchased for the Museum for $108,000. Starr Siegele had been looking for a Rembrandt print for 10 years prior to its purchase. She found just the right print in Europe in November 2006. After appropriate due diligence, we came to understand that our Rembrandt surpassed three similar prints the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York had in both state and condition. Brigitte Erhard Boos and her husband, Helmut Erhard, gifted an Albrecht Durer engraving, Saint Peter and Saint John Healing the Cripple, 1513 to the SOTA Print collection. This print complemented the Rembrandt print purchased earlier in the year.
AAM opened the “Knights in Shining Armor” exhibition to a crowd of greater than 800 people that night. Thirty SOTA prints were on view as part of the exhibition. The 2007 winter festival broke attendance records with 15,000 visitors in one day. SOTA ArtEdventure volunteers were there to help.
The spring 2007 GALA honored SOTA’s Rita Scheller and her husband, Joe. Thanks to the hard work of co-chairs, Trisha Girling and Harriet Hauff, the event broke records for attendance (over 400 people) and the profit of $175,000.
SOTA had now purchased over 300 prints for the AAM print collection including two beautiful 19th century prints by a woman printmaker, Carolina Von Schlieben Lose, titled The Internal and External Views of Certosa in Pavia and a 14 plate series by VanSandrart called God and Goddesses. The quality and complexity of the SOTA prints was noteworthy.
The May luncheon that year honored Starr Siegele for her 20 years of service to the Museum with a gift of prints for her collection. In September, the Eastern Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals honored SOTA with its “Volunteer of the Year” Award. In November, 2007, SOTA had the first combined general meeting with the Allentown Art Museum Auxiliary, marking more than 104 years of service by the two organizations.
David Brigham left his position in the summer of 2007. Greg Perry was named Director in December 2007.
In 2007, Peter Blume, the former AAM Director, exhibited a collection of SOTA’s women printmakers at Ball State University, where he was that Museum’s Director at the time.
The spring of 2008 ended sadly with the passing of a SOTA past president, Rosemarie Rebar. She worked tirelessly for years representing SOTA while also being in charge of Special Events in the Development Office of the AAM. She was a very special SOTA member and friend to all.
The Eastern Chapter of the Association of Fundraiser Professional, an international organization, had noted our SOTA years of hard work and fundraising with the honor of “Volunteer of the Year Award” in May, 2008. Later that summer, SOTA closed the SOTA Memorial and Celebration Fund and used that money to purchase three Judy Pfaff prints to add to the print collection. The closure of the fund made way for SOTA’s Education Endowment. It was also a year that SOTA again underwrote Free Sundays with a $25,000 contribution and purchased the Elizabeth Catlett print Sharecroppers.
In September 2009, Director Greg Perry left the Museum and in May 2010, J. Brooks Joyner was hired as AAM President and CEO.
In February 2010, SOTA joined the Greater Philadelphia Docent Consortium (GPADC) to gain support and knowledge about what other docent organizations were doing in the regional area.
In conjunction with the 2010 Rose Hill Showhouse on 28th Street, the city of Allentown allowed SOTA to use the original building the museum called home as the boutique. The Preview Party was held in the Rose Garden on a beautiful spring evening.
In June 2010, the Museum closed its doors as its new building expansion began. This offered new challenges for SOTA. We held general meetings in places such as Symphony Hall and the Lehigh County Historical Society and took more trips to visit other Museums.
In the late winter of 2010, an ad-hoc committee was assigned the task to review the allocation of SOTA’s fundraising money per Article XIII in the By-Laws. They worked diligently for 15 months, culminating in an amendment to change the ratio of fundraising dollars in January 2012. It allowed for half of the money earned to purchase prints, the SOTA Education Endowment would receive another 10%, with discretionary funds receiving the final 40%. The development of a new SOTA Print Committee as a standing educational committee also resulted from the ad-hoc Committee’s work.
SOTA’s friend, mentor and past-president Joan Fuller died suddenly in October, 2011. It was an unfortunate loss and we would miss her dearly. SOTA members were comforted knowing we were all better for having her in our lives.
The spring 2011 Gala honored SOTA for its many years of service to the Museum. First President Rusty Young was recognized during the “Evening in Paris” themed event chaired by Stuart Dubbs. Later that spring season, the 13th Showhouse and Gardens was held on a picturesque farm in Coopersburg owned by SOTA member Anne Lawrence and her husband Bruce.
The new Print Committee started its work in 2012. Their mission would be to educate SOTA members and the community about the prints SOTA has purchased over the years
In October 2012, the Museum adopted the Allentown Art Museum Intern and Volunteer Screening Policy. It mandates all active volunteers be screened via a criminal background check. SOTA members were required to comply.
SOTA’s 4th President, from 1972-1974, Susan McAdoo Barr passed away in March 2013.
After the retirement of AAM President and CEO Brooks Joyner in February 2013, the AAM membership was introduced to new President and CEO, David Mickenberg, in November 2013.
The fall of 2013 initiated a new, very profitable SOTA fundraiser called “Luncheon with the Authors”. It featured three nationally known authors. They were able to advertise this event with the launch of SOTA’s own web site, www.sotapa.org.
The decade ended with the celebration of SOTA’s 50th anniversary! SOTA “toasted” its many successes with a variety of projects and events during that 2014 anniversary year beginning with a kickoff party in January. The party had 180 attendees including many SOTA sustaining members. Prints presented that night to the Museum to honor SOTA were an important Mary Cassatt print, In the Opera Box, 1879-80 and 18 illustrations by Valerio Spada titled Balletti d’Invenzione Nella Finta Pazza di Giovanbatta Balbi, 1645.
Starr Siegele commissioned the New York Baroque Dance Company to create a dance with accompanying harpsichord music and dancers in original costumes designed after the Spada prints to be performed on the evening of the 50th Anniversary party. This historical noteworthy presentation was brought to life as it would have been played out before the young King Louis XIV in the 16th century. SOTA and the public were the first to see this fascinating pairing of Baroque art and dance.
A Celebration Committee planned and executed other 50th anniversary projects as well. The projects include a SOTA promotional brochure, notecards featuring SOTA prints and improvements to the SOTA Print Wall. Four SOTA sponsored special events were held at the Museum during the anniversary year with the intent of encouraging new groups in the community to visit the Museum. SOTA also donated funds for the purchase of technology to make the Museum’s collection available online, a resource for study and enjoyment.
Show House 2014 brought us full circle back to Bethlehem where the first Showhouse opened its doors in 1973. Show House 2014, titled “Downtown Abbey,” with the theme of “Renew, Refresh, Redo” was a community favorite.