Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites

In association with the Smithsonian Institution

HairWork


HairWork: Relics of Remembrance - Explore this exhibition dedicated to Victorian hairwork and other fascinating hair art.

March 16 - September 3, 2017

Discover the various ways people used loved ones’ hair to create unique, lasting mementos and family portraits as a way to express love and cherish memories in a time before photography was widely accessible.

Brooch with brown hair held together by a band of five small pearls. Inscribed 'In Memory of Andrew Preston...1849.'Found in the Collection.
Piece from Pamela Moschini’s Collection.
Bracelet made of brown hair, inserted in gold at each end with a gold medallion, the center of which holds a lock of hair under beveled glass. Gift of Mrs. Deborah Wilson.
Hair art from Pamela Moschini’s collection.

Hairwork is the practice of braiding, laying wrapping, or weaving human hair to create intricate jewelry, wreaths, realistic landscapes, words, or bouquets. Hairwork rose in popularity in the Victorian Era, 1837- 1901, due to an increased interest in the sentimental arts, mortality, and unconventional materials. The resulting artifacts often do not look like hair to the unsuspecting eye.

Examine such artifacts as:

  • Flowers made from hair and wire from the Moravian Collection.
  • Victorian hair accessories, styling tools, headwear and advertisements.
  • Watch chains, earrings, necklaces, bracelets and pins made with real human hair.
  • At the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, view a selection hairwork from a private collection, never before exhibited in the Lehigh Valley. Learn about common motifs used in hairwork and the process of designing and creating these fascinating artifacts. Throughout the exhibition, you can also view work from contemporary artist, Rebecca Reeves.
  • At the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, view a collection of Moravian hairwork and find out how Bethlehem changed throughout the Victorian Era. Learn how these intricate pieces were made through informative panels, workshops and demonstrations.
  • At the 1869 Luckenbach Mill, see a selection of photographs from the Bethlehem Steel Photo Collection that capture the hairstyles of Bethlehem residents throughout history.
  • At the 1810 Goundie House, learn more about the phrase “Hair of the Dog” and learn about historic hangover cures.

Local Spotlight Artist: Rebecca Reeves

Rebecca Reeves was born, raised, and currently resides in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Her system of living becomes the foundation for her work. Reeves's observations fuel the need to clean and organize in order to gain control over her environment.

In her current body of work, Reeves considers herself, the “Collector, Protector, and Keeper” of numerous family heirlooms.

Similar to the meticulously detailed Victorian human hair wreaths which represented the family tree; Reeves uses miniature furniture as representation for the objects in her home, her family tree.

She obsessively cocoons the miniatures in thread in order to contain and preserve. Nearly, suffocating them in the process.

See Her Work In Person

Yes, it is! Explore hairwork today with these hands-on activities:

Admire amazing hairstyles as models sport Victorian-Era outfits!
  • May 25: Hair of the Dog: Historical Hangover Cures and Happy Hour
  • August 24 from 6 - 9 pm: Hair Fashion Show (Schneider Lecture)
  • TBD: Hair Today: Lecture/Panel on the Cultural Significance of Hair

Learn more about this fascinating practice by taking a tour HairWork: Relics of Remembrance on display at the Kemerer Museum & Moravian Museum.

You can also read our blog here!

HairWork: Relics of Remembrance Opening Reception

Thank you to everyone who attended

the HairWork: Relics of Remembrance opening reception!

Special thanks to Rebecca Reeves and Pamela Moschini, you both were essential in bringing this exhibition to life!

Check out more HairWork programs & events here.

See Event Photos Here

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