The painting of Asa Packer, founder of Lehigh University, has recently been conserved and returned back to the University. It is currently on display at the Zoellner arts Center on the bottom of the campus. The painting for years was on display in the University Center in front of Lower Cort Dining Hall that students would pass every day before they ate lunch or dinner. The painting just recently underwent a year long process of rejuvenation in Carlisle, PA. This process is supposed to return the painting to its original state. The process involves removing layers of old varnish, mending tears in the canvas, securing flaking paint, and using new paint to disguise previous damage or prevent damage in the future (found on painting). The painting is approximately fifty years old and will not need to undergo this project again for another fifty years.
I think this piece is really important to have on campus to remind students what Lehigh University stands for at an institutional level. It reminds students that the school embodies Packer’s beliefs and values. Asa Packer gave $500,000 and 60 acres in 1865 to make Lehigh what it is today. He did so to promote the growth of engineers in the Lehigh Valley that could staff Bethlehem Steel Co. He also continuously gave to the institution he helped build and because of his generosity, for the 20 beginning years of Lehigh, the university was tuition free. Asa Packer will always be remembered by the Lehigh community for his giving nature and outstanding work in promoting education in the United States. This large approximately seven foot painting of him does him homage by making him appear to be larger than life, which hew essentially was.