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Allentown Art Museum 'moving in new direction,' to revamp image, outreach

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David Mickenberg, president and CEO of the Allentown Art Museum, discusses upcoming changes.
David Mickenberg, president and CEO of the Allentown Art Museum, discusses upcoming changes. - (Photo / )

The 83-year-old Allentown Art Museum plans to reinvent its image and connection to the community as part of a new strategic vision, officials said.

Details of the changes, including a new logo and branding, will be unveiled Thursday at a public town hall meeting in front of the museum at 5 p.m. Business and community arts leaders, many who are part of the museum’s new partnerships, are expected to be among those attending. Portions of Fifth Street will be closed for the free event.

The changes are intended to “set this institution on a trajectory focused on relevance, vibrancy and embracing audiences reflective of our community,” Angela Zanelli, vice president of development and communications at the museum, told reporters Monday at a preview press conference which contained embargoed information about the plans.

“The world of art is changing and art museums are changing,” said David Mickenberg, president and CEO of the Allentown Art Museum. “We are moving in a new direction.”

The Allentown Art Museum is in downtown Allentown, which is undergoing an explosive economic and cultural renaissance. And museum and economic development leaders are cognizant of the museum as a resource.

Mickenberg said the arts have a value and an economic impact on a community.

The Allentown Art Museum has maintained about a $3 million budget for the last five to six years, but needs to find additional revenue streams in order to develop, Mickenberg said.

Some of the ideas that will be announced Thursday will address ways to increase revenue while increasing the museum’s visibility and relevance.

Among the changes will be an expansion of the museum’s programming with the other visual and performing arts, he said.

Art museums can no longer afford to be static repositories of art, hoping that people come to look at it on its walls.

“It’s not just about art on the walls. … It’s about other art organizations as a whole,” he said.

“Here’s what I see: A museum that bring the power of art to the community and the vibrancy of the community into art,” he said.

Mickenberg said he envisions “an inclusive regional resource that uses arts and culture as a catalyst to drive interaction, education, experimentation and social change. I see exhibitions, programs and events that inspire, teach, engage and transform our [Lehigh] Valley – one person, one idea at a time.”

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