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Kemerer Museum shows off $2.75 million expansion

Published On: Sep 20 2013 05:13:39 PM EDT   Updated On: Sep 20 2013 07:42:53 PM EDT

They are the things that make homes beautiful.


They are the things that make homes beautiful.

At the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts in Bethlehem, those things tell the story of style and design in eastern Pennsylvania and beyond.

"Our goal is to help people understand the role that style and design plays in how they decorate their home," said Charlene Donchez Mowers, president of Historic Bethlehem Museums and Sites.


But styles change with the times, and so has the Kemerer Museum. A $2.75 million expansion added 5,000 square feet.

At the heart of the historic jewel is a two-story glass vault that contains thousands of priceless home furnishings and accents, many donated by the museum's namesake, Annie Kemerer.

"We have 30-foot long floor to ceiling glass wall. Every few months the objects that are brought forth along the glass will change," said Mowers.

The newest addition to the Kemerer collection was donated by Elizabeth Johnston Prime, the daughter of the city of Bethlehem's first mayor, Archibald Johnston.

The Prime collection includes 44 buildings and furnishings. Each depicts design trends of their time.

"They are little time capsules of history style and design," said curator Amy Frey.

But they are too valuable to come out of the vault and play. So the museum has the once upon a tree house space for kids to explore modern day doll houses while their parents browse the ornate collection of locally crafted antique glass, furniture and fabrics.

The Kemerer Museum is open Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.