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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.  SOTA volunteers help the Museum staff throughout the year; they lead docent tours, help children and families in  Art Ways, assist in the Museum store and much more. Our organization holds fundraisers like Luncheon with the Authors and SOTA Showhouses to financially support the Museum. Throughout our sixty-year history, SOTA  has contributed generously to the Allentown Art Museum. Our gifts have included funds to purchase more than 370 prints for the Museum’s collections through the SOTA Print Fund, the creation of the SOTA Education Endowment,  financial support for Free Admission For All, “Art Ways” and other Museum educational needs. Society of the Arts is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

 The Society of the Arts is an organization fully committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in principle and in practice.

SOTA is dedicated to advancing and promoting the mission of the Allentown Art Museum, in our community and beyond. 

2022–2024 SOTA Executive Officers


President -Priti Merchant

Executive Vice President -Jill Weinhold

Vice President-Educational Activities -Chris Forsthoefel

Vice President-General Activities -Peggy Herman

Secretary -Mary Zegarski

Treasurer - Sarah Montano

2022–2024 SOTA Board


Past President - Val Johnson

Senior Sustaining Advisor -Mary Beth Bohri

Junior Sustaining Advisor - Carol Koenig

Museum Representative -    Max Weintraub


Educational Committee Chairs

ArtVentures – Debra Sanek

Curatorial – Pat Beldon

Docents – Ellen Johnson

Print Committee – Ashley Ford


General Committee Chairs

Museum Assistants – Barbara Traupman

Fundraising –  Patti Romig

Museum Store – Diane MacConnell

SOTA Programs – Sera Duffy

Artyfacts Editor – Corliss Bachman

Personnel – Carol Shiner Wilson - LOA

  Interim Peggy Herman/Chris Forsthoefel

Publicity/Webmaster – Laura Polt

Admissions Committee

Jill Stevens- Chair

Wandra Cain

Cynthia Estabrooks

Katherine Sarver

Judy Weniger

Nominating Committee

Val Johnson- Chair

Maryann Datillio

Maureen Fernbacher

Ashley Ford

Dianna Hodgson

Sota's History

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.  ​1964-1978  ​ 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.  ​1978-1984  ​ 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.  ​1994-2004  ​ 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  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.” 2004-2014  ​ 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,  ​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.  ​

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