Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites

In association with the Smithsonian Institution



PAST EXHIBIT: Thanks for attending!

HairWork: Relics of Remembrance - Explore the 2nd largest human hairwork collection on display in the country!

March 16 - September 3, 2017

Discover what Victorians did for love and the various ways they 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.

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:

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

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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