Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites

In association with the Smithsonian Institution


Time Capsule Bethlehem

Unearth Bethlehem's past in the newest exhibition that highlights our historic city's most important moments, people, and places.

March 29 - August 26, 2018

Don't Miss

Keepsakes Lecture:
Caring for Your Old Photographs
& Paper Records

Saturday, May 5, 2018 from 4-6pm at the Moravian Museum.

Your old photographs and records are a valuable piece to your family's history. Learn how to properly care for and store them in this informative lecture.

Join us at the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem for a lecture and demonstration of how to properly care for, preserve, and store your old family photos and records. This is part of our Time Capsule Bethlehem program series that seeks to help the community maintain its history for the future generations to come.

Cost: $20 for HBMS Members, $25 for Non-Members

steel with train tracks time capsule bethlehem 2018

From March 29 to August 26, take a journey with us through the rich history of our very own Bethlehem.

The First House of Bethlehem, Anna Nitschmann, the Eagle Hotel, Bethlehem Steel, Calypso Island… these places, businesses, and people no longer exist in the Lehigh Valley but their presence and impact is repeatedly felt thanks to the dedication of historians, community members, and organizations to preserve the past for future generations.

Time Capsule Bethlehem: Our City Then & Now showcases surviving artifacts—a large portion being donated by the local community—that tell the stories of the region’s history. Yet not all history is tangible! We welcome the community to make this exhibition their own by telling and showing your own family stories from our city to add to the collection.

Make your mark on Bethlehem’s timeline and take part in this collaborative project of bringing the past to meet the present and preserving it for the future.

In collaboration with local historic organizations and collectors, Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites presents a range of artifacts including paintings, journals, archeological findings, photographs and more, displayed over seven historic sites.

Step back in time to the days of the early Moravian settlers and travel the timeline of Bethlehem through its evolution to today! Explore the pieces of history that still survive today thanks to the commitment of Bethlehem's community across six historic sites- the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, the Single Sisters' House, the 1752 Apothecary, the 1810 Goundie House, and the 1869 Luckenbach Mill.

At The Kemerer Museum

Doll Trunk

These Things Tell Stories

Our Community Gallery features a timeline that highlights important moments in Bethlehem’s history. Explore the objects on display, hear their stories, and learn about the people, places, and events they were tied to. We invite you to add your own objects, memories, and events to the Bethlehem timeline via white board panels and display areas.

In the lower gallery areas, browse letters and learn more about letter writing techniques. A letter writing station provides the perfect location to sit down and write a letter to your future self or relatives about what life is like today!

Take part in a guessing activity to determine the function of mystery tools from the past, peruse family heirlooms, and test your time capsule analysis skills. Review several “mini capsules” to determine the period they would have represented in Bethlehem.

Upstairs, view the Dollhouse Displays and see how these structures are not just playthings from a child’s past but also records of how more affluent families lived from 1830-1933.

At The Moravian Museum

time capsule bethlehem 2018 journal and photo
Journal and Photo

Record Keeping

Learn more about how people preserved the past in the earliest days of Bethlehem by exploring:

  • Excerpts from diaries
  • Business record letters
  • And more!

At The Single Sisters' House

Embroidered Art


Explore how the artwork and craft made by women in Bethlehem in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries help historians today learn more about the past.

What can a piece of embroidery made at the Ladies’ Seminary teach us about what it was like to live there? How do we learn about a painter from her painting or a musician from her performance notes? Find out in this multi-room display in a building that serves as a time capsule itself.

See traces of the lives of the unmarried women who continuously resided in the building, working, and living there from 1748-2007.

At The 1752 Apothecary

Apothecary Perscriptions

Apothecary Records

See rarely exhibited manuscripts from the Apothecary Collection, including:

  • Bills
  • Sales
  • Records
  • Customer information

At The Goundie House

Fireman's Hat


Discover how past residents of Bethlehem prepared for and coped with disaster.

See photographic record displayed among artifacts from first responders, surviving artifacts, and insurance documents of:

  • Floods
  • Train accidents
  • Fires
  • And more

At The Luckenbach Mill

Lehman Portrait

Bethlehem Past and Present

This exhibition of photographs features images of Bethlehem’s past, interspersed with the work of contemporary photographers capturing the city today.

Time Capsule programs are funded with support from the Jones Adult Programming Fund.

  • June (Date TBA): Historical Relics - Assist with cleaning items found at an archaeological dig in the Colonial Industrial Quarter. Details to come.
  • Sunday, July 15, 1PM - 2:30PM: Behind-the-Scenes Dollhouse Tour at the Kemerer Museum
  • Thursday, July 26, 6PM - 8PM: Scrapbooking 101 at the Kemerer Museum
  • July (Date TBA): Historical Relics - Assist with cleaning items found at an archaeological dig in the Colonial Industrial Quarter. Details to come.
  • Thursday, August 16, 6PM - 8PM: Paint and Sip - Family Tree at the Kemerer Museum
  • August (Date TBA): Appraisal Day- Bring a maximum of three items to be appraised at the Kemerer Museum
  • August (Date TBA): Historical Relics - Assist with cleaning items found at an archaeological dig in the Colonial Industrial Quarter. Details to come.
rachel yoder time capsule bethlehem 2018
rachel yoder penny olive book time capsule bethlehem 2018

Rachel Yoder

Yoder is an active folk artist specializing in contemporary interpretations of fraktur style painting and portraits of der Belsnickel and has exhibited at Tyler School of Art, Kutztown University and the Hex Factory gallery.

Yoder wrote and illustrated her first bilingual children's book, Penny Olive, in December 2015 which was written to engage young people and help preserve Pennsylvania Dutch culture. She was honored as Hiwwe wie Driwwe's PA Dutch Artist of the Year in 2016, and her work has been featured in Hiwwe wie Driwwe, Deitsch, Side Arts, and reviewed in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Yoder currently lives and works in Boyertown, Pa, with her three children and enjoys teaching people every day about PA Dutch culture as a folk artist.

Her artwork and prints will be available for purchase at the Kemerer Museum Gift Shop and the Visitor Center on Main Street.

dennis wildnauer time capsule bethlehem 2018

Dennis Wildnauer

Watch Wildnauer's Artist Talk from the exhibit Opening Reception.

Dennis Wildnauer, an avid collector of aluminum giftware makes contemporary works using vintage steel dies. For the purpose of this exhibition, he has loaned HBMS the dies and works originally made with them to display alongside his own craftworks. These pairings beautifully demonstrate the development of his completed pieces.

Since 1999, he has been crafting and selling his own hand hammered aluminum giftware using these artistic dies under the business name Cornerstone Forge. With only a few artisans left who create hand wrought aluminum giftware, he is proud to continue a tradition of hand forging aluminum while keeping their art alive.

His items will be available for purchase at the Kemerer Museum Gift Shop and the Visitor Center on Main Street.

bekah rusnock time capsule bethlehem 2018

Bekah Rusnock

On view March 29 - August 26, 2018,
at the 1869 Luckenbach Mill

Bekah Rusnock’s Instagram, @igbethlehem, uses the social media format to capture breathtaking shots of the city and its people. Rusnock's photos will be exhibited alongside images selected from the 10,000+ photographs that make up the HBMS photo collection.

Rusnock captures Bethlehem on her iPhone and posts to her Instagram @igbethlehem. She has garnered over 21,000 followers on her account since 2013. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post, The Morning Call, and Fig magazine. Rusnock is co-founder and creative director of Woodward Rusnock Consulting, an economic development consulting firm that specializes in creative problem solving.

Prints of her photos will be available for purchase at the Visitor Center on Main Street.

We Need Your Help

Add your own piece of history to our 2018 Community Time Capsule

Do you have an item you think would be a good candidate? Start by filling out the form below. Completed submissions will be reviewed weekly and accepted submissions will be put on display in the Entrance Gallery of the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts for the duration of the exhibition.

Images of accepted submissions will be posted to our Facebook gallery where the public will vote by LIKING the images of the items they think should be put into the time capsule.

time capsule bethlehem 2018 journal and photo

Submit to the
2018 Community Time Capsule

What sort of items do time capsules normally contain?

Time capsules are objects containing items unique to their location that help keep the past alive. Most commonly they consist of newspaper clippings detailing major events or catastrophes; images of notable people and places; copies of important paperwork such as deeds, laws, or certificates; small momentos that present a significance to the time like jewelry, heirlooms, toys, souvenirs, or ticket stubs; videos of local events; letters of historical record; journals and memoirs; and so much more.

Your item needs 100 LIKES on our Facebook album to be guaranteed a spot in the 2018 Community Time Capsule.

Submissions will be accepted from March 10 to July 31, 3:00PM. Voting will end on August 1, 2018 at 3:00PM.

2018 Community Time Capsule Submission

We need your help filling our 2018 Community Time Capsule! If you'd like to submit an item for consideration, please fill out the below form. Your submission will be reviewed and, if accepted, you will be contacted to coordinate transfer of the item.
  • Please give general/rough dimensions of the object you are submitting to the time capsule.
  • Please give a brief description of the general condition of the item that you are submitting to the time capsule.
  • Please submit an overall image as well as detailed images of any damage, unique characteristics, or maker's marks or signatures.
  • Please submit an overall image as well as detailed images of any damage, unique characteristics, or maker's marks or signatures.
  • Upload any additional documents you may have such as an appraisal PDF.
  • Upload any additional documents you may have such as an appraisal PDF.

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Historic Site Rentals

Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites offers the most unique settings for an unforgettable event.

With unsurpassed charm and elegance, our sites can accommodate as few as 10 and as many as 250 people for weddings, dinner parties, family reunions, corporate receptions, team-building activities, and more.

From the pastoral homestead of Colonial statesman James Burnside to the one-of-a-kind decorative arts destination for discerning guests, Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites offers a range of venues that will not only make a perfect backdrop for your event but introduce your guests to Bethlehem's rich heritage.


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74 West Broad Street, Suite 260, Bethlehem, PA 18018 | Phone: 610-882-0450 | FAX: 610-882-0460 | info@historicbethlehem.org

Historic Bethlehem Partnership, Inc. is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Registration and financial information about Historic Bethlehem Partnership, Inc. may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll-free, within Pennsylvania, 1-800-732-0999, or on the web at www.dos.state.pa.us. Registration does not imply endorsement.