May 12, 2022

Stories from the Archives – The Palette Club

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From Our Local History Collection

The Bethlehem Palette Club: The Arts in Postwar Bethlehem

In the years after World War II, the arts flourished in Bethlehem. The Palette Club, a local group of artists, held their first meeting on June 11, 1947. Nine artists joined together to form the club with the common goal of cultivating the public’s interest in local fine art and artists. Their first exhibition took place at the Drawing Room Theatre, which was located at 546 School Street in Bethlehem and was founded by members of the Bethlehem Civic Theatre. The Drawing Room Theatre shut down in 1954, but 1950s theater enthusiasts could still attend productions of the Bethlehem Civic Theatre and the Community Players.

Early members of the Palette Club included a Liberty High School art teacher, an engineer at the Bethlehem Steel Machine Shop, and a Lehigh University fine arts professor, among others. Not only did they display their art in the lobby of the Drawing Room Theatre, but they also held special galleries called washline exhibitions, where they hung their art outside. In November 1947, the first washline exhibition took place on the corner of New and Market Streets in Bethlehem. The Palette Club still exists today and has made an impact on connecting the Lehigh Valley community to fine art.

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