For almost half a century the Lancaster Museum of Art has sought to provide visitors with the “best available art.” Since its founding in 1965 by a group of artists and community leaders, the Lancaster Museum of Art has been a leading source for culture and education for people living in, as well as visiting, this region.
Initially known as the Goethean Gallery and located on the campus of Franklin and Marshall College, the Museum became the Community Gallery of Lancaster County when it relocated off-campus to a downtown location. In 1979 we moved to our present location in the Grubb Mansion, adjacent to Musser Park, and in 1996 became the Lancaster Museum of Art.
The Museum provides a 4,000 square foot facility for exhibitions of regional, national and international artists in a variety of media, artist's lectures, panel discussions, and educational workshops for children and adults. Named by the Lancaster County Community Foundation as one of the seven Keystone Arts Organizations in the City of Lancaster, we present exhibitions as diverse as the communities we serve.
Moreover, we are committed to making certain that our programs are attractive and meaningful to our audience. We strive to foster an appreciation of the visual arts that respects and recognizes all. Our hope is that we ultimately foster strong, lifelong connections to the arts and the role they play in our everyday lives.
Our growth and evolution from a community gallery to a contemporary art museum with a well-deserved reputation for the presentation of excellent local and national exhibitions as well as diverse educational programs is summarized in the following history:
1966: A group of local artists and citizens respond to a need for a community art gallery in Lancaster. Franklin & Marshall College extends an invitation to locate a gallery on its campus, and assumes managerial support. The gallery, known as the Goethean Hall Gallery of Art, served the community well as a place for the display and study of fine art.
1968: Community support for the Goethean Gallery grows, and a Gallery Council is created as an advisory board to oversee the current use and future direction of the gallery. The Council explores options that move the Gallery toward a self-sustaining fine art museum and cultural center, and changes the name of the Gallery to the Community Gallery of Lancaster as a more accurate reflection of its local heritage and autonomy.
1970s: The Community Gallery of Lancaster moves directly into downtown Lancaster with its first “off campus” location on Grant Street, adjacent to Lancaster’s historic Central Market. Programs grow rapidly in size and scope, and the Gallery establishes a well-deserved reputation for the presentation of top-notch exhibitions and programs.
1979: Once again, the Community Gallery experiences space limitations that impede further growth, particularly in the area of educational programming and classroom space. The Community Gallery selects the city-owned Grubb mansion on the edge of one of Lancaster’s most beautiful parks as the new home of the Community Gallery of Lancaster. Focus on education is paramount during this time, and the Gallery develops educational programs and classes offered on a regular schedule, finally fulfilling the vision of the original founders as a place for the study of art.
1990s: The true form and function of the Museum came to fruition. The new space not only allowed for the presentation of extraordinary exhibitions featuring both local and international artists, but it also finally gave the Gallery space to develop vibrant education programs and classes. The expansion of the Gallery’s education programs and offerings lead to a decision in the in the mid 1990s to change the name from the Community Gallery of Lancaster to the Lancaster Museum of Art.
2005: The Museum purchases the property located at 215 North Queen Street (former Empire Appliance building) with the intention of relocating and expanding operations. The Museum’s Capital Campaign begins and raises $850,000 in pledges during the first year.
2007: A year of unparalleled growth, with the presentation of significant exhibitions such as the Visions of the Susquehanna featured works from Mifflin and Moran to Evans and Brumbach. Trashformations, a national traveling exhibition from the Fuller Craft Museum in Boston featured the work of 106 dumpster-diving artists who took New England thrift to a new extreme, and the attendance-shattering LEGO exhibit, The Art of the Brick, spotlighted the work of internationally-know LEGO artist Nathan Sawaya. The Art of the Brick, with the help of Sawaya’s month-long residency at the Museum, pushed our attendance from 20,000 annually to over 55,000 visitors in 2007 alone. Local, national and international media attention on this exhibition truly put the Lancaster Museum of Art on the map as a destination site.
2010: In January the Board of Trustees makes the difficult decision not to go forward with the North Queen Street project due to the turbulent economy. Instead, the Museum decides to stay at the Grubb Mansion, its home since 1979. The decision is met with overwhelming support from the community. The Board of Trustees lists the 215 property for sale.
In a seemingly unbelievable turn of events, the four-story façade and more than a third of the 215 North Queen Street building comes crashing down upon the sidewalk and street on the morning of April 14. Miraculously and thankfully, no one is injured seriously. When the dust settles (literally and figuratively), the Museum emerges after a relatively short, if intense, period of time financially “whole.” The ultimate sale of the property and the insurance settlement allows LMA to pay off its loans and all the remaining expenses relating to the planning and development of 215.