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How the Bellefonte Art Museum Has Better Holiday Gifts Than the Mall


133 N. Allegheny Street Bellefonte , Pennsylvania 16823



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Like everything involved with the Bellefonte Art Museum of Centre County (BAM), Twiga, the newly-opened museum store, is a labor of love. Located right inside the downtown museum at 133 N Allegheny Street, Twiga- which means 'giraffe' in Swahili, also happens to be the nickname of museum Executive Director, Patricia House. And if anyone knows Pat House, or Lori Fisher, the museum's gallery manager, or practically anyone associated with keeping this rare and exceptional small town art museum vibrant and active and alive, then they certainly also know that it takes a heck of a lot of love to make it all work.

But on the off chance that you had no idea of that, no big deal.

One visit to Twiga and this years Museum-wide Holiday Show and Sale, 'Color Your World', would surely make it all apparent.

After all, you don't have to spend but a minute or two shifting your eyeballs around the colorful eclecticism to understand perfectly well that all of this is the brainchild of some people who love art, artists, and artisans. The shelves, walls, tables and display cases are overflowing with hand-crafted things for every budget. We've become accustomed anymore to buying wares that are,...hmmm, how do I say this...wares that are made out of crap. And crappily made. All in the name of getting a bargain, I guess.

Twiga and the Holiday Show and Sale is not that kind of thing. It's actually the holiday shopping experience you've probably been hoping for without even knowing it, is my guess. Breath of fresh air? Pffft. Try more like a sweeping gust of fresh air, to be honest. After a trip or two down to the mall, go down there and see if I'm steering you wrong. Paintings, jewelry, clothing...all of it handmade,  you only have to stand in the midst of it all to suddenly sense you've been freed from the long purgatory of department store halogens and meaningless sales.


The folks involved in making this museum shop and holiday sale happen, WANT people to discover it. Because they want you to come back to BAM. Because they want you to fall in love with the beautiful things that define an art museum, THIS ART MUSEUM, not just so you can purchase them, but so that you might bring your kids back someday soon. To look at the paintings on the wall. To observe the sculptures in this gallery, to take in the photographs in that one. To sneak up the big wooden stairs to the upper floor of a very old house where, once upon a time, the Underground Railroad came to Bellefonte.

Plus....are you ready for an insiders Holiday Scoop that I haven't shared with anyone before this?!?!

Okay, okay.

Twiga is also carrying something so exclusive and wonderful this December that you literally have no chance of getting one unless you head over

I'm talking about Dotty Ford's needle-felted mice Christmas tree ornaments.

Who is Dotty Ford?


I thought you'd never ask.

Well, she's is the one and only curator for the BAM 2018 "Color Your World" Holiday Show & Sale, which is happening through December 23rd. And it's a prestige she's certainly qualified for, I'll say that much.

"I was an art teacher with the State College Area School District for many years," Ford explains to me in a recent email chat. "I am also a docent at the Palmer Museum of Art. Since my retirement from teaching, I have become a more active artist myself - doing watercolor painting, collage, drawing and needle-felting. I also co-chair an interest group with the University Women’s Club called “Speaking of Art.”

Wow, okay. Involved in the arts scene around the county for much of her life, how did she become the curator of the Holiday Show and Sale then?

"I met Pat House when she became the director there and we have been friends since then. She asked me several years ago if I would take on the job of curating the Holiday Show. Each year I choose a different theme for the artists. Some previous themes have been “Talk to the Animals”  and “A Magical Time"."

Now she is in charge of putting together this year's 'Color Your World' show and sale, which means she has to comb the museum's registry to pick out the artists and artisans who will be a part of it all.

What's a registry? Ha. I asked her the same exact thing. And she very patiently explained.

"Registry artists are those artists who have been juried into showing at the BAM by a committee of artists and art professionals. There are over 150 local artists on the registry now. They can be found on the museum’s web site with examples of their work."

Then, as if if to add a little nugget that absolutely blows my mind, she nonchalantly adds this little tidbit.

"All of the artists participating in 'Color Your World' are from Centre County and the central PA area."


There it is.

There isn't a mall or a box store in this galaxy that can lay claim to such a beautiful statement. Every single delight they are featuring and selling this year is made by someone who basically lives down the road, more or less. It's all homemade by your neighbor. With care and quality and decades of talent and skill.

Like those needle-felted mice Christmas tree ornaments that Dotty Ford makes herself.

I'm not going to lie: I need one of those. And so do you.

Stop in to the Bellefonte Art Museum then. The shopping clock is ticking; you don't need to waste any more time shopping for the people you love. Give them some things that aren't 100% junk this year. Handmade scarves. original prints. Hand-crafted necklaces and earrings. You can buy these things at the mall. You never could and your never will. Support our local art museum and our local artists.

We're lucky to have them. And I know deep down, you know exactly what I'm saying.

Stop in soon and you can even grab yourself a BFT sticker absolutely free of charge. It's's way of saying thanks to each and every one of you who supports this town's small business community.

'Color Your World' Holiday Show & Sale
Twiga Museum Store
Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County
133 North Allegheny Street
Museum hours Friday, Saturday, & Sunday 12;00 - 4:30 p.m.


While at your visit to BAM, head up to the 3rd floor to witness Underground Railroad: A Journey to Freedom exhibit. That permanent feature highlights the escaped slaves who sought safe passage to freedom in the north via a secret network of people who wanted to help abolish slavery altogether.

*This exhibition is supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency fund-ed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

The Bellefonte Art Museum is supported by the Central Pennsylvania Convention & Visitors Bureau. Learn more about the CPCVB by visiting



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