The Permanent Collection concentrates on the art of the 19th and 20th centuries. The inaugural gift was made by Priscilla Payne Hurd, of a resplendent figure from the turn of the century, by American realist painter Susan MacDowell Eakins.
Recent acquisitions include photographs by the pioneer American pictorialist Gertrude Kasebier and by the belatedly recognized documentary photographer William Gedney. In addition to Kasebier platinum prints is a copy of the first issue of Alfred Stieglitz's Camera Work (1903), with each of her photogravures hand-signed by Kasebier. Among the Gedney urban night images are his 1975 photographs of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Holdings in American Art include the 19th century painters Albert Bierstadt, Cecilia Beaux, William Trost Richards, and Susan McDowell Eakins. In the 20th century, the collection focuses on the early Pennsylvania Impressionists of the New Hope Circle: Fern Coppedge, Daniel Garber, Edward Redfield, W. Elmer Schofield, and Faye Swengel Badura, among others. There are also works by John Marin, Reginald Marsh, Jackson Pollock, and Francis Barth.
The European 20th Century is represented with works on paper by the early Modernists; by Dada and Surrealist artists Andre Masson, Marcel Janco, Leonore Fini, and Jean Cocteau; and by contemporary Central and East European graphic artists.
Regional holdings are strong in the 19th century, with one of the largest bodies of work by landscape painter Gustavus Grunewald, both easel paintings and murals in situ. Grunewald conducted his first class in oil painting at the Bethlehem Female Seminary in 1844. (In the 1860s Gertrude Kasebier attended "The Fem Sem," the forerunner of Moravian Seminary and College for Women.)
Also from the 19th century is a rare cache of drawings produced by pupils of Nazareth Hall, the companion boys school to Moravian's girls school.
The gallery's earliest work is by the 18th century religious painter John Valentine Haidt.
Some rare works that the college is pleased to own are a finely decorated 19th century room of spectacular 360-degree, panoramic wallpaper (one of the famous hand-blocked scenic papers produced by Zuber et Cie in Alsace in the mid 19th century); the complete 20-volume text and 20-portfolio photogravure-plate edition of The North American Indian (1928) created by Edward S. Curtis; and the only known portrait by Reginald Marsh, that of Moravian College President Raymond Haupert (1954).