Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites

In association with the Smithsonian Institution


One Tank Trip: PURSEonality: A Stylish Handbag History

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - There are bags to put your things in, bags for an evening out, bags that catch your eye. Part function, part fashion.

"What I love about purses is I love the way they look," said Ilene Hochberg Wood, a handbag historian and private collector. "I find them objects that are almost pieces of art. They are beautifully created and, in many cases, they are made one-of-a-kind by artists."

Wood has a few to choose from. She has more than 3,000 in her private collection, with 300 of them on display for the first time at the Kemerer Museum in Bethlehem. One-hundred needlepoint bags are at the Moravian Museum, and 150 travel bags are at the America on Wheels Museum in Allentown.

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