Walk through history as we guide you to things to learn, places to discover, and events that help connect us to our rich heritage.
The Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts is housed in three interconnected mid-1800s homes featuring changing exhibits, period rooms, and galleries highlighting furniture, paintings, china, clothing, and silver. This museum speaks to the changes in style and design over three centuries.
The Kemerer is Pennsylvania’s only decorative arts museum — one of only 15 museums in the United States exclusively dedicated to the decorative arts.
The Kemerer also features a garden designed by Scott Rothenberger’s PLACE. The garden uses traditional horticultural sampling and classic landscape architectural elements in a creative and contemporary way. Throughout the garden are stainless steel sculptures created by Bethlehem native, Skip Kralik. With two stunning gardens full of lush sustainable plants, the cocktail garden and chapel garden, the Kemerer makes the perfect space for programs, parties, and events.
The Kemerer Museum is named for Annie S. Kemerer who was born in 1865 just south of Bethlehem. Annie married into a prominent Bethlehem family; she and her husband had one son. Annie and her family enjoyed surrounding themselves with beautiful furniture, paintings, and decorative objects.
After the untimely deaths of her son and then her husband, Annie became a recluse but she continued to be an avid collector of antiques. After her death in 1951 and through her generous bequest, the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts was established in Bethlehem in 1954.
Annie Kemerer’s extensive personal collection includes lovely examples of Pennsylvania German textiles, exquisite furniture, priceless Bohemian glass, and her breathtaking 200-piece wedding china set.
The Collections Resource Center, a two-story environmentally controlled vault that houses all of the most sensitive objects in the collections of Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites, opened in the fall of 2013. On the interior, floor-to-ceiling glass walls make it possible for visitors to see our priceless collections.
The second floor of the vault is home to the distinguished Elizabeth Johnston Prime Dollhouse and Toy Collection. It is one of the largest antique dollhouse collections in the United States with forty-four structures and 6,000 pieces. This collection, spanning the period from 1830-1930, recounts 100 years of architectural and decorative arts history.
Mrs. Prime was so precise in her collecting that she only put pieces in each house that were period-appropriate, down to the china. Because the collection is so vast, we feature select houses throughout the year on display.
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