Judy Herman's Main Line Art Center: An Impressive Body of Work

How the community-minded art enthusiast brought new life to the 75-year old institution.

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Main Line Art Center executive director Judy Herman retires this month after 25 years. (Photo by Jared Castaldi)As Judy Herman steps down from her post at Main Line Art Center this month, she leaves behind a much different organization than the one she remembers a quarter-century ago.

“Finding a place that needed to be built up was exciting,” says Herman, who became its executive director after stints at the Please Touch Museum and the Franklin Institute. “It was in my own community, and it had such possibilities.”

Herman cites a study at the time that indicated 20 percent of local folks had heard of the center and wanted to take classes—but they hadn’t yet. To reach that group, there would have to be changes.

Founded in 1937, Main Line Art Center had a financial system that Herman describes as “frayed around the edges.” Its building—an old Victorian structure nicknamed “the white house”—had fallen into disrepair over the years. Herman worked to modernize both, tracking the dollars and cents by computer and fixing up the physical structure. She eventually added accessibility features like an elevator.

“Slowly, it started to grow,” Herman says. “And we kept growing until we got to the point where we reached the ceiling and needed to expand.”

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