Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Ligonier
The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art (SAMA) is a community art museum with locations in the southwestern Pennsylvania cities of Altoona, Bedford, Johnstown, Ligonier, and Loretto, where the museum was founded in 1976. The Ligonier location opened in 1997 and has since collected and exhibited the works of numerous local, regional, and national artists working in various mediums. The museum at Ligonier offers changing exhibits, educational programs, juried shows, artists-in-residence programs, workshops, and a sculpture garden, connecting people of the Ligonier Valley and surrounding area with the arts. SAMA successfully operates the nation’s longest-running museum satellite system.
Backstory and Context
The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art (SAMA) was founded in 1976 at Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania. The Museum began with a permanent collection of 67 works of art. Other locations opened in Hollidaysburg (1979) which moved to Altoona (1995), Johnstown (1982), Ligonier (1997) and Bedford (2018). SAMA now has a permanent collection of 5,000 works across all locations featuring nationally-recognized artists such as Will Barnet, William Baziotes, Albert Bierstadt, Mary Cassatt, Walt Kuhn, Thomas Moran, Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Sully, and Andy Warhol.
SAMA's location in Ligonier opened in the fall of 1997. Since then, more than 100,000 visitors have attended more than 50 exhibitions at the Museum. These exhibitions have highlighted local, regional, and national artists, and included juried shows for professionals and students. Additionally, the Museum is home to the Walter Carlyle Shaw Paperweight Collection, and showcases these beautiful, unique works of art spanning 150 years in changing exhibits. Elizabeth Shaw Gamble donated the collection of 169 glass paperweights to SAMA in 1992 in memory of her father.
SAMA-Ligonier is located in an historic house along Route 711, just down the road from downtown Ligonier. The Museum's exhibits extend outdoors with beautiful gardens and the Donald M. Robinson Sculpture Park, named in memory of a photographer from Altoona who has much of his work housed at SAMA.
As a community museum, SAMA-Ligonier emphasizes community art projects and education. Programs like their Arts-in-Education (AIE) and Artist-in-Residence (AIR) initiatives connect artists and art educators to students in local schools, who learn about artistic techniques, history, criticism, and aesthetics. Other programs include children's art camps, workshops for adults, speaker presentations, art walks, and various community events throughout the year. SAMA also participates in the Ligonier Valley's Free Museum Day, an annual event that offers free admission and special activities at local museums.
SAMA received accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) in 1996 and has been a partner of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) since 1998.
Thomas, M.. Southern Alleghenies Museum offers on the road with 'art', Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. June 28th 2018. Accessed March 25th 2020. https://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2018/06/28/On-the-road-with-art-Southern-Alleghenies-Museum/stories/201806280002.
About SAMA, Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art. Accessed March 25th 2020. https://www.sama-art.org/about.
Shaw, Kurt. SAMA-Ligonier events celebrate gallery anniversary, TribLive. August 23rd 2017. Accessed March 25th 2020. https://archive.triblive.com/aande/museums/sama-ligonier-events-celebrate-gallery-anniversary/?printerfriendly=true.
Thomas, Mary. Buffalo paperweight collector, historian to speak at SAMA Ligonier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. October 9th 2014. Accessed March 25th 2020. https://www.post-gazette.com/local/east/2014/10/09/Buffalo-paperweight-collector-historian-to-speak-at-SAMA-Ligonier/stories/201410090014.
McMarlin, Shirley. 5 massive steel pieces anchor new Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art sculpture garden, TribLive. May 5th 2018. Accessed March 25th 2020. https://archive.triblive.com/aande/museums/5-massive-steel-pieces-anchor-new-southern-alleghenies-museum-of-art-sculpture-garden/.
The Permanent Collection, Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art. Accessed March 25th 2020. https://www.sama-art.org/permanent.
Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau. https://www.laurelhighlands.org/listing/southern-alleghenies-museum-of-art/470/