Title: Cabinet of Curiosities
Date: September 2016 – August 1, 2017
Within the depths of the Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society collections, are never-before-seen artifacts that will ignite your curiosity and send shivers down your spine! Opening September 3, 2016, the Sigal Museum will showcase its eerie, weird, and most curious objects from the collection vault. Discover the stories behind strange objects like the Apache Skull Cracker, the Alfred Thomas Explosion, the Edison bulb, Korean Death Pot, Little Master Bobby, and many more.
What is a Cabinet of Curiosity? For hundreds of years, people have been collecting items relating to the natural world, archaeological wonders, religious
relics, and art, almost anything you can imagine. People shared their collections with each other to learn about these wonders and to entertain each other. Collections of oddities and the bizarre turned up in most cities and towns in the United States in the 1800s, perhaps the most famous being P.T, Barnum’s American Museum in New York City that ran from 1841 until 1868. Eventually these collections of curiosities became our modern museums. Step back in time with us and be the first to lay your eyes on these treasures. Dare to explore the museum’s best-kept secrets!
Thank You to Our Sponsors:
Title: Spirits of Easton
Date: June 2016 – February 2017
*Exhibit will travel to the 1810 Goundie House in February 2017, part of Historic Bethlehem Museum and Sites
The recent rise in popularity of craft and home-brewed beers has been a boon for local breweries and craft beer friendly bars. But, did you know the history of brewing beer in the Easton area goes much further back in time than the last double IPA?
The Sigal Museum is Northampton County, PA. In conjunction with Porters’ Pub, will unveil the exhibit “Spirits of Easton” on June 15 at the museum on 342 Northampton Street. The exhibit will showcase the city’s long and storied history with beer.
The first known brewery in Easton was erected in 1821 by Frederick Seitz. The Seitz Brewing Company once surpassed 70,000 barrels bfore closing and reopening as the Osterstock Brewing Company in 1935. The brewery closed in 1938.
Another historic brewer was Xavier Veile, who worked for Seitz before opening up his own brewery along Northampton Street. Veile’s family ran the brewery, that one produced 12,000 barrels, for decades before it closed in 1942.
Visitors to “Spirits of Easton” will also learn about Willibald Kuebler, who came to America in 1848 and started brewing at Church and Bank Streets. Kuebler’s brewing grew to 50,000 barrels before his death.
Thank You to Our Sponsors:
Title: Fashion Plates of Northampton County
Date: February 18 – September 15, 2017
Title: The Cat’s Meow: Lehigh Valley in the Age of Art Deco
Date: September 9, 2017 – August 6, 2018
Exhibition highlights the emergence of Art Deco style in the Lehigh Valley and the social and cultural environment of the 1920s and 30s.
Welcome to 1920 and 30s America: The Lehigh Valley is roaring with red light districts, illegal underground speakeasies, and organized crime. Immigrants, women, and children are finding work in the booming steel and textile industries across the area. The modern era is on the horizon.
In a bold reaction against tradition, the Art Deco movement emerges to the forefront in design. It is a grand symbol of change in an increasingly mechanized world. Architecture, furniture, apparel, graphic design, cars, trains, ocean liners and jewelry all begin to reflect the growth and change of a young 20th century America.
The exhibition is divided into the following sections:
The exhibition prologue outlines the effects after the end of World War I. The emergence of new technology and the mechanization of war impacts the world greatly. European artists in opposition to the absurdity and tragedies of the war bring forth new artistic ideas that will set the stage for the stylistic components of Art Deco.
Paris Exposition of 1925
From 1890 – 1910, the Art Nouveau (or “New Art”) aesthetic becomes widely accepted as the new trend by well-off Europeans. The Nouveau period is classified by its rejection of traditional “academic” art, curvaceous designs, and floral motifs. It was the major predecessor to the Art Deco period, which takes the world by storm during the Paris World’s Fair of 1925. The term “Arts Decoratifs” is officially coined. The organic motifs once seen during the Nouveau period are replaced by sharp geometric designs, straight lines, and rare expensive materials – the pinnacles of luxury.
A Mechanizing World
By the 1920s, the Lehigh Valley was one of the top producers of silk in the world and Bethlehem Steel was the second leading producer of steel in the entire nation. Bethlehem Steel products were used in the building of the New York Chrysler Building (an iconic Art Deco building), the Golden Gate Bridge, and Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Booming production in the area lead to prosperity and disposable income. A vibrant consumer-driven market thrived and contributed to tremendous economic growth.
The Era of Modern Design
The art deco style, which you can find examples of all over the Lehigh Valley, was an expression of an industrial society. The forms of buildings were streamlined, simple with decorative ornamentation. Zigzags, geometric designs, and stylized floral motifs were created with glazed bricks, mosaic tiles, or metal. Tile and glass were predominant materials, as they offered a sleek planar quality to buildings of the period.
A selection of local Art Deco architecture in the Lehigh Valley:
Easton: Bank Street Annex, Mayer Building, Verizon Building Bethlehem: Historic Hotel Bethlehem, Bethlehem Armory Northampton: Roxy Theatre
Whitehall: Lehigh Valley Dairy (late Deco)
Allentown: PP&L Building, Civic Theatre, Allentown Post Office
In 1919, the 18th amendment to the constitution was ratified and wasn’t repealed until 1933. This period of temperance, when all alcohol was prohibited in the United States, provoked the illegal production of alcoholic beverages and underground speakeasies. Jazz and flapper culture thrived in American cities, and disposable income lead to the popularity of vaudeville shows and the talkies, which were a popular pastime. Vaudeville history shines brightly in the Roxy Theatre of Northampton and the Civic Theatre in Allentown.
Additionally, New Yorkers would empty out after weekend prize fights and drive automobiles and catch trains into Easton. Late-night visitors would take advantage of bawdy houses and speakeasies which ran rampant in Easton’s Red Light district. Southside Bethlehem was also known for its brothels, gambling, gang relations and opium dens.
The roaring twenties meet their abrupt end when the stock market crashed on October 29, 1929. Soon the Great Depression would follow, leaving thousands of people unemployed, homeless, and hungry.
Join us as we reminisce one of the most glamorous and equally turbulent times in American history; The Cat’s Meow: Lehigh Valley in the Age of Art Deco at the Sigal Museum in Historic Downtown Easton.
This exhibition is in collaboration with the historic Roxy Theatre, Iron Rail Rosies, Taste of Easton, and more TBA.
Black History Month
February is Black History Month – and the Sigal Museum is celebrating with a small exhibit about African-American History in Northampton County. Free for members. Included with regular admission to the museum.
Women’s History Month
Throughout the month of March, join us for programs and a small exhibit in homage of Northampton County women.
World War II Commemorative Display
December 7th, 2016 marked the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In remembrance of those who fought and lost their lives, NCHGS will have WWII memorabilia displayed in the Sigal Museum beginning June 2017. Free for members. Included with regular admission to the museum.