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Museums and Cultural Attractions

The warmth and hospitality of charming Bethlehem make for an ideal getaway, whether you’re traveling as a couple, with friends or as a family group.

Museums and Culture

The warmth and hospitality of charming Bethlehem make for an ideal getaway, whether you’re traveling as a couple, with friends or as a family group. On your trip, discover unique museums such as The Moravian Museum of Bethlehem and The National Museum of Industrial History. Learn about Bethlehem’s fascinating past at our historic sites. You’ll find that there’s a lot to do in Bethlehem within a very small geographic area! Be sure to stop in at the Historic Bethlehem Visitor Center and Museum Store on Main Street for great advice, tour information and more.

Who were the Moravians?

Deeply religious. Industrious. Undeterred by hardship. Peace-loving. Progressive. All of these words describe the Moravians of Bethlehem, members of a Protestant church that dates back to 15th century Europe. Seeking to spread their faith as missionaries, they immigrated from Moravia (now part of the Czech Republic) in 1735 to the British colony of Georgia. When they arrived, the pacifist Moravians found themselves unwillingly involved in a conflict with the Spanish as well as with Native Americans. This prompted their resettlement to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1741.

The early settlers lived a communal life in the Gemeinhaus (community house), fittingly named because it was not only the center of the community, it actually housed the settlement’s 80+ people for several years. The Gemeinhaus was home, school, doctor’s office and church, all in one. Here, the settlers lived a disciplined and spiritual life, with work and church as their focus. In the early years (through 1762), the Moravians contributed to a communal economy, meaning that all individual labor was for the benefit of the community, its growth and missionary work. As the Moravian community matured, a cash economy was adopted, and settlers established their own businesses.

Progressive in many ways, the Moravians of Bethlehem valued education for girls as well as boys and treasured beautiful music (one of the earliest orchestras in the Americas was founded here in 1744).

To learn about daily life in Bethlehem’s Moravian community in the 18th century, be sure to join a docent-led tour of The Moravian Museum of Bethlehem.

Bethlehem: A National Treasure

National recognition helps historians give visitors a fuller story of Bethlehem, from the Colonial days on. Here are a few reasons why Historic Bethlehem has earned a place among national treasures.

  • 1 of 8 National Historic Landmark Districts in Pennsylvania
  • Two individual National Historic Landmarks
  • “The finest examples of 18th century Germanic-style architecture in America,” – National Park Service
  • Kemerer is the only museum of decorative arts in Pennsylvania; 1 of 11 in the U.S.

Museums

Moravian Museum of Bethlehem

If you’re someone to whom history whispers its tales, a trip to the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem is a fascinating stop. The museum, a National Historic Landmark, is housed in the 1741 Gemeinhaus, believed to be the largest 18th-century log building in continuous use in the U.S. Its centuries-old white oak timbers support several sections built over the course of three years from 1741 to 1743. To learn about daily life in Bethlehem’s Moravian community in the 18th century, including religion, education, work life and missionary work, be sure to join a docent-led tour of the museum.

1758 Sun Inn Museum

This museum consistes of five self guided tour stops on the first floor only. The Inn hosted dignitaries vistiing the Moravians and stood just North of the Moravian General Economocy settlement. The Inn played a vital role during the Revolutionary Way and is where the Marquis de Lafayette began his recuperation after being wounded at the Battle of Brandywine. The Museum depicts the reproduction of furnishings and accommodations that the Sun Inn uniquely offered in the 1700’s that far exceed that available elsewhere including Williamsburg.

Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts

The Kemerer Museum is one of only 15 museums in the USA exclusively dedicated to the decorative arts. Here, visitors can see the extensive collection of furniture, china, textiles, artwork, clothing and other decorative objects collected by Annie S. Kemerer and her family. Not to be missed is the Elizabeth Johnston Prime Dollhouse and Toy Collection, one of the largest collections of antique dollhouses in America. The Kemerer also features a garden designed by Scott Rothenberger’s PLACE that showcases sculptures by local artist Skip Karlik.

National Museum of Industrial History

Four galleries of this fascinating museum explore America’s industrial history and how mechanical innovation helped build our nation’s status as a world power. See more than 20 artifacts loaned from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, including an enormous Corliss steam engine and a 20-foot tall steam hammer. Learn about the daily lives of steel workers, how iron and steel were made, and how Bethlehem Steel came to be recognized world-wide. The museum is located on the SteelStacks campus.

Additional Area Museums

Whitefield House Museum – Nazareth

The Whitefield House Museum shares over 500 years of fascinating Moravian history, architecture, art, music, and culture. Guests are able to view the earliest known violin made in America, six original paintings by the Moravian artist John Valentine Haidt, a 1776 pipe organ made by early America’s premier organ-builder, David Tannenberg, an early 1850s Martin guitar, and much more! Located in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, less than 10 miles from Bethlehem, the Moravian Historical Society maintains the 1740-1743 Whitefield House and the 1740 Gray Cottage – the oldest Moravian structure in North America. The Whitefield House Museum and museum store are open 7 days a week from 1 – 4 p.m.

Martin Guitar Museum – Nazareth

As a visitor on the factory floor, your guided tour will show you how our guitars come to life through the hands of the craftsperson. Explore the art of guitarmaking, from old world tools to our state-of-the-art facility. Follow a guitar from rough lumber to a finished product which requires more than 300 steps to complete.

National Canal Museum – Easton

The National Canal Museum is dedicated to telling the story of America’s historic towpath canals. The museum occupies the first floor of the Elaine and Peter Emrick Technology Center in beautiful Hugh Moore Park, a 520-acre City of Easton park nestled between the Lehigh Canal and Lehigh River. The National Canal Museum interprets the history and culture of canals as well as the science and technology behind their building, through exhibits and hands-on activities. Children and adults can harness a mule, steer a canal boat, and engage in activities that help them learn how canals were built.

Sigal Museum – Easton

The Sigal Museum is Northampton County, Pennsylvania’s leading institution of local history, and home to significant collections of pre-European settlement artifacts, decorative arts and textiles, farming implements and colonial furniture.

Cultural Attractions

Bach Choir of Bethlehem

The Mission of The Bach Choir of Bethlehem and its Bach Festival Orchestra is to perform the works of Johann Sebastian Bach and to promote and encourage appreciation of the aesthetic and spiritual value of Bach’s music, while striving for the highest standards of musical excellence. We achieve this mission by engaging our audience – locally, nationally, and internationally – through education and performance, including works by composers who influenced Bach and were influenced by him, and through the programs of our Bel Canto Youth Chorus. Together, we cultivate a lifelong passion for the choral arts.

Banana Factory Arts & Education Center

Once home to a banana distribution warehouse, this community arts center now hosts 30 resident artists’ studios in several mediums including sculpture, painting, clay, glass, and photography. Visitors may take a guided gallery tour, offered every Tuesday at 10 a.m., or plan to visit during a First Friday event to meet the artists and see their work. Exhibitions change frequently.

Lehigh University Art Galleries

On the campus of Lehigh University, discover this teaching museum whose mission is to inspire visual literacy and cultural understanding of art. Peruse the permanent collection, and be sure to check for frequent events and exhibitions.

SteelStacks

The SteelStacks 10-acre campus hosts a truly impressive list of performing artists and events each year, with more than 1,000 concerts and eight festivals annually. Musikfest, the largest free music festival in the U.S., is held here in August. Visible from all areas of the campus are the 230-foot-tall blast furnaces (or “stacks”) that were last used in 1995 after nearly 120 years of steel making.

Touchstone Theatre

This professional, non-profit organization with its resident ensemble focuses on the creation of original theatrical works. A wide variety of performances are held throughout the year, and the theater hosts a young playwrights festival annually.

Zoellner Arts Center for the Performing Arts

The center opened in 1997 as the home to the Lehigh University Music Department, the Department of Theatre, the Art Galleries and the Guest Artist Series, all of which share the same professional technical, marketing and administrative staff, venues and equipment.

Additional Area Cultural Attractions

State Theatre – Easton

The State Theatre is Central PA’s home for local artists and audiences to experience, appreciate and embrace the transformative power of the performing arts. We are committed to presenting a variety of excellent local and national music, theater, dance, comedy, and film programming. We strive to create a memorable experience for all.

Premier Partners

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