Our History

Photo: Halkin / Mason Photography

Photo: Halkin / Mason Photography


In 1989, the Susquehanna Art Museum (SAM) began as a mere dream in the minds of a group of central Pennsylvania art educators who felt strongly that the capital city needed an art museum. Guided by a desire to provide a forum that would be innovative, relevant, and engaging, these educators worked alongside community leaders, businessmen and women, and a group of dedicated volunteers to make this dream a reality.

A little more than two decades later, SAM is central Pennsylvania’s only dedicated art museum, mounting exhibitions that reflect the diverse cultural heritage of the community as well as a wide range of aesthetic interests.  The galleries  feature the work of local, regional, national, and international artists.

In addition, SAM’s innovative outreach program, the VanGo! Museum on Wheels, reaches thousands of students each year and brings original works of art to students who otherwise lack such opportunities. VanGo! teaches all children that creativity lies within each of us, providing a forum for further development of important problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

SAM is dedicated to encouraging and inspiring visitors of all ages to become more familiar with; knowledgeable of and appreciative of the art and culture that surrounds them. Educational programming is developed to enhance and enrich the visitor experience, providing a wide variety of classes, lectures, workshops, discussions, critiques, and more for adult learners. SAM’s youth art programs explore drawing, painting, sculpture, art history, and art appreciation—a unique experience for students to learn from original works of art in a museum setting.

What began more than two decades ago has blossomed into a permanent facility in Midtown Harrisburg (opened January 2015) and an organization rich in its dedication to the arts and to its community.

Click to view a letter of support from former Governor Ed Rendell, January 14, 2015.