The Kemerer is back
The Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts in Bethlehem is the only museum devoted exclusively to the decorative arts in Pennsylvania.
In fact, says LoriAnn Wukitsch, Vice President and Managing Director, Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites, the Kemerer is one of only 15 such museums in the United States.
So, it is particularly thrilling that the newly-renovated Kemerer reopens 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Sept. 20 - 22 with a two-story environmentally-controlled collections resource center that provides open storage for nearly 40 percent of Historic Bethlehem's artifacts including paintings, textiles, toys, furniture and one of the country's largest antique dollhouse collections.
There's an Historic Bethlehem members' preview, 6 - 9 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Kemerer, 427 N. New St., Bethlehem, which is part of Historic Bethlehem Partnership, Inc. There will be sparkling wine selections by Eileen Budd of Wine Know, hors d'oeuvres by 14 Acre Farm and music by classical, jazz and Latin guitar soloist Frank DiBussolo.
The partnership's other museums and sites include the Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, 1810 Goundie House, Colonial Industrial Quarter, and Burnside Plantation.
Wukitsch says that the 5,000-square-foot addition to the Kemerer will provide visitors with a vastly new experience as more of the collection that has been packed away in storage for decades is now either on display or available for exhibit for the first time. The Kemerer has been closed for construction since June 2012.
I took a mini preview tour of the Kemerer with Charlene Donchez Mowers. President, Historic Bethlehem Partnership, Inc.; Amy C Frey, Curator of Collections and Exhibits, Historic Bethlehem Partnership, Inc., and Wukitsch. I was especially enamored of the William Morris-themed room, which was a bedroom done in the style of the famous textile designer who lived in the 19th century.
The bedroom includes some gems from the collection, including a bed made by Allentown furniture manufacturer Gottlieb Buehler, William Morris-inspired wallpaper and an armoire beautifully stocked with linens and clothing of the period (including socks). A very small woman's dress with easily a million buttons closing the front was on a manikin in the middle of the room.
"You don't want to fasten those buttons more than once," Frey says, laughing.
When I mentioned that I didn't think any human being could have a waist small enough to fit in that dress, Donchez-Mowers remarks wryly, "That's why women were always fainting."
The Kemerer reopens with new exhibits, including "Stitched Together: Samplers from Past Present," featuring works from long-gone Moravian girls learning their letters as well as contemporary work inspired by them; "Mirror Mirror on the Wall," with pieces demonstrating how mirrors literally reflect changes tastes and styles; "Welcome Home: The Elizabeth Johnston Prime Dollhouse and Toy Collections," which will feature just a portion of the largest antique dollhouse collection in the United States; and "Once Upon A Treehouse," for children to use their imagination, play dress up, and enjoy creative play with handmade dollhouses.
The opening features local artist, Sandra Corpora, who paints all subjects, including figures, still life and landscape, and is committed to continuing the decorative art tradition.
Information: historicbethlehem.org, 610-882-0450, ext. 10.