The Craft of Keeping Loved Ones Connected

This spring, Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites invites you to explore HairWork: Relics of Remembrance, an exhibition dedicated to Victorian hairwork and other fascinating hair art on display across multiple historic sites. Discover the various ways people 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 available to the masses. Running from March 16 – September 3, 2017, this exhibit examines the rise of the sentimental arts during the Victorian Era in Bethlehem through hairwork.

Hairwork is the practice of braiding, laying, wrapping, or weaving human hair to create intricate jewelry, wreaths, realistic landscapes, and more. Hairwork rose in popularity in the Victorian Era, 1837- 1901, due to an increased interest in the sentimentality, mortality, and unconventional materials. The resulting artifacts often do not look like hair to the unsuspecting eye.

Wreaths and other motifs would use hair from many different family members, resulting in colors that range from the more common brunette and blonde, to the rarer white, gray, and red. Hairwork was often adorned with gold, jet, pearls, turquoise and other gemstones, each of which held a specific and special meaning.

Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts is exhibiting a selection of Pamela Moschini’s extensive private collection of hairwork, 30 years in the making- made available for public view for the very first time. Her collection features hair wreaths, jewelry, bouquets under glass domes, and other tokens originating from Germany, England, France, and the United States. This extraordinary assortment includes hairwork encased within a table and even a piece that contains George Washington’s brother’s hair.

Throughout the exhibition, see over 30 pieces from featured contemporary artist, Rebecca Reeves, who draws inspiration from the meticulously detailed Victorian human hair wreaths which signify the family tree. Reeves uses miniature furniture as representation for the objects in her home and obsessively cocoons the miniatures in thread in order to contain and preserve. Also on display will be a selection of new “water creatures” – Reeves’ alluring graphite drawings of hair.

At the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, view an intimate installation of sophisticated Victorian hair jewelry created for Moravian families. Find out how the pieces were made and reflect how Victorian trends resonated in Bethlehem. Learn what it was like to live in a changing Bethlehem during the Victorian Era.

At the Luckenbach Mill, enjoy an assortment of black and white photographs that capture the hairstyles of Bethlehem residents throughout history from the Bethlehem Steel Photo Collection. At the Goundie House, enjoy historic happy hour that explores the topic of Hair of the Dog: Historic Hangover Cures.

Don’t miss fascinating programs like:

  • Animal Hair Felting Class lead by Diane Hutchinson: Thursday, March 30 from 6 – 8 pm
  • Horsehair Jewelry Demonstration with Sue Newquist: Saturday, May 6 from 11 am – 4 pm
  • A Victorian Hair Art Workshop with Master Jeweler Karen Bachmann: Saturday, June 17 from 2-5pm
  • A Hair Fashion Show at Kemerer Museum of Decorative: Thursday, August 24 from 6 – 9 pm

The opening reception for HairWork: Relics of Remembrance is March 16 from 6 – 8 pm at the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts. The opening reception is free for members and $10 for non-members.

Admission to Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites is $10 for one-site museum pass or $20 for multi-site museum pass. Members receive free admission. The Kemerer Museum is located at 427 N. New St.; the Moravian Museum is located at 66 W. Church St.; the Luckenbach Mill is located at 459 Old York Rd.; and the Goundie House is located at 501 Main St. Visit or contact the Visitor Center & Museum Store at 1-800-360-TOUR for more information.

All proceeds from this event help Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites to maintain 20 historic landmarks in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites is a not-for-profit institution that brings to life three centuries of American history.  Historic Bethlehem tells the story of a small town of great influence, home to some of our nation’s earliest settlers, to America’s first municipal water pumping system, and to one of the world’s greatest industrial companies.  Historic Bethlehem is located in eastern Pennsylvania, only a 1.5 hour drive from Philadelphia to the North and 2 hours west of New York City.  Historic Bethlehem is an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, a National Historic Landmark District, and a designation to the US Tentative List.