Free Admission to Bethlehem Museums Saturday
Historic Bethlehem Partnership Raising Awareness and Support from Community
Have you ever toured Burnside Plantation or visited the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts? Most likely, if you are a Bethlehem native, the historic sites are little more than a backdrop for Musikfest, Celtic Fest or Christkindlmarkt.
If you have not done it yet, Community Day in Historic Bethlehem provides the perfect opportunity for individuals and families to learn more about the abundant history of Bethlehem, offering free access to museums and historic sites from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday.
According to Lori Ann Wukitch, Vice President and Managing Director for the Historic Bethlehem Partnership, while the visitor’s center has seen tourists from 48 states and 28 countries come through Bethlehem in 2010, “many local people don’t even know the rich history of Bethlehem; this is definitely an outreach effort to improve awareness in the Greater Lehigh Valley and beyond.”
Community Day will feature walking tours and demonstrations of the Colonial Industrial Quarter Sites, including the 1762 Waterworks, 1761 Tannery, 1869, Luckenback Mill, and the reconstructed 1750 Smithy where participants can watch the blacksmith in action.
At 1 p.m., Historic Bethlehem President, Charlene Donchez Mowers will tell the story of Bethlehem’s beginnings, early Moravian medicinal practices, communal living, missionary work and progressive educational system at the Saal at Moravian Museum Complex.
One of the oldest building structures in the Lehigh Valley, the Moravian Museum Complex includes the 1741 Gemeinhaus, 1744 Single Sisters' House, 1758 Nain - Schober House and Bethlehem Apothecary. Participants can support the restoration efforts for the Nain - Schober House by purchasing a $100 clay tile.
The adult admission for the Hunt for History Club program Eggstravaganza will be waived in honor of community. Not only can you see the artwork, artifacts and furniture in the Kemerer Museum but, children can enjoy an egg hunt, story and craft as well as the various toys and dolls that are display.
The Burnside Plantation, the Farm in the City, will feature colonial garden and kitchen demonstrations. Visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic in the open field at Burnside or take the walking path along the Monocacy Creek to Downtown Bethlehem to get lunch at their favorite eatery.
“We are an incredible force in the community and we are happy to share it,” said Mowers, “The help of the community is critical to maintaining the buildings and artifacts.”
Buildings must be maintained according to the federal regulations outlined by the Secretary of Interior. The Historic Bethlehem Partnership works with five Historic Moravian Committees around the world in concern to the preservation of Moravian structures, artifacts and archives. Because of its diligent preservation, the Partnership has been named 1 of only 150 Smithsonian Affiliates, which is an honor.
“On a daily basis, we are working in an around these incredible structures,” said Mowers, “we would like the community to understand what an incredible history we have.”
These historic structures are maintained by the Partnership through the generous donations of community members, donations, local businesses and corporate sponsors. As a non-profit organization with only six full-time employees, “donors should feel confident that support goes towards the mission of education and preservation” said Mowers. The majority of donations contribute directly towards the structures as well as the training of tour guides and museum teachers.
“We are always looking to increase our membership with individuals interested in preserving this history,” said Wukitch. Memberships can be purchased for $20 from students, $50 from individuals and $75 for families.
Community Day is a free and fun way to get in touch with your own Bethlehem heritage and the preservation efforts that provide the charm for our scenic community. For more information on this event or the historic sites, contact the Historic Bethlehem Partnership (610) 882-0450.