Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites

In association with the Smithsonian Institution


Past Exhibits


Stars of Bethlehem

December 5, 2014 Through March 29, 2015

Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts
427 N. New Street

The Star of Bethlehem is one of the oldest, most recognized and well loved quilt patterns today. In general stars have always been a popular motif in quilts, often used for its symbolic reference to religion and the heavens. The importance of the star motif will be showcased through the display of spectacular quilts from the various collections of HBMS!

Through the display, you will learn about the significance of this motif on a cultural, religious and artistic level. These star quilts have a wide range of names, with each type being discussed.  Gain an understanding of quilting techniques, fabrics and the impact of these seemingly ubiquitous quilts.

This exhibit will not only be a great celebration of the holiday season, but also falls under the 150th anniversary of the end to the Civil War.



A Winter's Tale

November 21, 2014 Through March 29, 2015

Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts
427 N. New Street

If Jack Frost is nipping at your nose then embrace the chill at our newest exhibition, “A Winter’s Tale.” Opening November 21, learn how famed artists Gustav Grunewald, Emil Gelhaar and Antonio Martino played with the hues and tones of this season in a fine assortment of snow capped landscape paintings. Feel the sublime power of the snowy season as their art transforms the world into a winter wonderland.  The paintings will be contrasted with examples of three dimensional objects often associated with the winter season, such as skating and sleigh rides.  So as the temperatures begin to drop you’ll know it’s time to brave the cold and visit our latest exhibition

Mittens K1961.K.837.01-.02


Bright Lights, Big City

July 25 through March 1, 2015
Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts
427 N. New Street

As the Industrial Revolution progressed, factories popped up and down the East Coast and millions of people flocked to the bright lights of the cities in search of fortune. The architecture of cities changed; homes had to be designed to accommodate the large influx of people and the wealthy business tycoons built their city estates. From row-homes to brownstones, the buildings on display from the Elizabeth Johnston Prime Dollhouse Collection provide a glimpse into what life would have been like living in the Big City.




June 20, 2014 Through November 16, 2014

Kemerer Museum
427 N. New Street

Whether it’s the swoosh of a paint brush, the click of a camera, or the upload from a smart phone, capturing images of ourselves has a longstanding tradition. Regardless of the medium, the objective of portraiture is to encapsulate the sitter’s personality or mannerisms. Historically, fine art examples were once sought out by the wealthy but with the advent of photography, portraits transformed from aristocratic pomp to mass consumption. This exhibit examined the characteristics of portraits by drawing attention to its various forms, styles and sizes. Examples from the collection will include painted miniatures, silhouettes, carte-de-vistes, cameos, daguerreotypes and tintypes and other depictions of portraiture featured in decorative arts.

portraits feature



May 23, 2014 Through November 9, 2014

Cross-Site Exhibit
505 Main Street

We’ve braved the drab and dreary winter, and what you need now is a Pop of Color! Our first cross-site exhibition is now open to the public, presenting some of the collection’s most vibrant and colorful objects. The Goundie House hosts representations of monochrome design from the HBMS collections.  Here you will learn about color symbolism and how the subtext of black and white changed over time. See the display at the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem. This kaleidoscope of objects will spotlight how multicolored combinations were used in a variety of mediums. At Burnside Plantation, discover how color was made and perceived in the 18th and early 19th century. By looking at the relationship between nature and color, learn why colorful objects were once so highly prized.

COLORS Sign for website


Main Street Views

November 1, 2013 Through November 5, 2014

Goundie House
505 Main Street

Ever wonder what the streets of Bethlehem looked like before paved roads and parked cars?  "Main Street Views: Photographs from the Historic Bethlehem, Inc. Collections" featured photographs of Bethlehem streets from the mid-nineteenth century, when Main Street was a dirt road, through the mid-twentieth century when the street looked much like how we know it today. The images from our archives show how Bethlehem changed, including the development of buildings and homes that line its streets.

Main Street, c. 1890 P62.2.1332A


Country Living: The Elizabeth Johnston Prime Dollhouse and Toy Collection

January 5, 2014 Through June 22, 2014

Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts
427 North New Street

Explore the extravagant county houses of the Elizabeth Johnston Prime Dollhouse Collection, where the house is just the beginning. Verandas and gardens accompany many of these homes modeled after German villas, and French estates.



Samplers from Past and Present

September 20, 2013 Through April 27, 2014
Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts
Featuring work by members of the
Lehigh Valley Chapter of the Embroiderers’ Guild of America (EGA)

The exhibit, which features work by members of the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the Embroiders’ Guild of America, explores needlework artists from yesterday and today and reflects on how their pieces affected decorative arts.



Welcome Home: The Elizabeth Johnston Prime Dollhouse and Toy Collections

September 20, 2013 through January 4, 2014
Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts
427 North New Street

Over forty buildings and 5,500 pieces move into their new home at the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts.  The collection which features dollhouses from every decade between 1830 and 1930 will be on permanent display for the first time since its acquisition in 2007.  Become reacquainted with the English townhouse and the French villa, and explore the Mystery House, the Baltimore row house and the Livingston House for the first time.


Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts0428


Local Artist Spotlight: Sandra Corpora

September 20, 2013 through January 5, 2013
Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts
427 North New Street

Sandra Corpora is an Award winning artist who studied with Nelson Shanks.  She paints all subjects, including figurative, still life and landscape



Mirror Mirror on the Wall

September 20, 2013 through November 10, 2013
Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts
427 North New Street

Mirrors have reflected changing tastes and styles in decorative arts throughout the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, from miniatures that adorn dollhouses’ walls, to a stately Federal style mirror topped by our national bird.  Mirrors played an important role in all sizes of historic households as practical accessories and decorative statements.  See what over 100 years of practical and stylish mirrors look like all together in one space.

Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts0422


The Steel Way of Life

June 22, 2012 through August 30, 2013
Goundie House
505 Main Street

Meet first-hand the men and women who worked at Bethlehem Steel in a multimedia experience that includes life-size portraits, audio interviews, and memorabilia from the times. Share your own stories of life in the shadow of the steel giant on the public memory board.

steel logo




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