Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Art Museums
Visiting one or more of Lancaster County's Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Art museums is a good way to begin your visit.
Most likely, if you are interested in visiting Lancaster County, it is because you are interested in the unique culture of the Pennsylvania Dutch, the Amish and the Mennonites. If this is your first visit to the region, you probably only have a vague understanding of that culture.
To make the most of your visit, it would be helpful to acquire a basic knowledge of the region's history and culture. Of course, you can do this by reading travel books or visiting websites such as this. However, the best way to acquire a deep understanding quickly is by visiting a museum. Somehow, observing firsthand the three dimensional artifacts is more effective in conveying meaning than a mere picture.
Also, there are plenty of friendly people around to answer you questions as well as make recommendations to enhance your visit.
During your visit to Lancaster County, you will see many
country shops and Amish stores,
which sell folk art. Since these items make super gifts and souvenirs, you are likely to be tempted to buy some.
Visiting one or more of the Pennsylvania Dutch folk art museums is a good way to make sure that you understand what you're getting. It is also a way to learn how to discriminate between junk and authenticity.
General Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Art Collections
The Americana Museum of Bird-in-Hand
709 Old Philadelphia Pike(Route 340), Bird-In-Hand, PA 17505
Ever wish you could take a nostalgic walk through small town America at the dawn of the 20th century? This Lancaster museum lets you do just that.
Exhibits include a barber shop, woodworking shop, tea parlor, print shop, millinery, toy store, blacksmith shop, tobacco shop, apothecary, wheelwright shop, and a country general store. Victorian carriage rides through Bird-in-Hand and surrounding farmlands are offered on select days during the season.
Heritage Center of Lancaster County
13 W. King St., Lancaster, PA 17603
Located in the Old City Hall and Masonic Lodge Hall, this Pennsylvania Dutch folk art museum focuses on the culture history of Lancaster County. The museum displays 18th and 19th Century furniture, fraktur, quilts, pottery, and other folk art. The museum also has a prominent display of antique rifles as well.
Landis Valley Museum
2451 Kissel Hill Road, Lancaster, PA 17601
This is perhaps my favorite of all the Lancaster County museums. It's actually more of a historical village comprising 18 buildings with over 200,000 items. The museum is devoted to portraying how rural Pennsylvania Dutch life was like.
As a visitor you will be privileged to witness local artisans crafting authentic traditional Pennsylvania Dutch folk art as well as demonstrating a variety of activities such as gunsmithing, blacksmithing, weaving, lace making, traditional Pennsylvania Dutch cooking and more.
Most exciting are the many events held throughout the year such as the Pennsylvania German Christmas celebration known as the Days of Belsnichel; Harvest Days; and the Herb Faire which is the largest sale in Pennsylvania of rare, traditional plants and herbs.
Leonard & Mildred Rothman Gallery
F & M / Steinman College Center (lower level), Lancaster, PA 17603
The Leonard & Mildred Rothman Gallery features textiles, fraktur, ceramics, metals and glass and other examples of Pennsylvania Dutch folk art. The objects are fine examples of the work of early Lancaster County artisans. The Rothman Gallery also includes a gallery for rotating exhibitions, as well as the folk art gallery.
Kready’s Country Store Museum
55 N. Water St, Lititz, PA 17543
An authentic country store which also serves as a Pennsylvania Dutch folk art museum. The facility displays original groceries, toys, clothing, and artifacts from the early 1800’s. The immense collection contains many rare examples of early Americana.
Mennonite and Amish Quilt Musuems
The Lancaster Quilt & Textile Museum
37 Market Street, Lancaster, PA 17603 Phone: 717-299-6440
This Pennsylvania Dutch folk art museum tells the story of the Amish and their quilt making by showcasing quilts produced by Amish women in Lancaster County between the 1870s and the 1940s.
Exhibited items extend beyond quilts to include Amish-made clothing and decorative household items, as well as related textiles from other communities. Visitors can learn about the history of the Amish, defining characteristics of Lancaster County Amish quilts, the process of making a quilt, and more.
The museum features a variety of interactive experiences. Visitors can feel the fabric used by quilters and apply new knowledge to the task of identifying a Lancaster County Amish quilt. Visitors also will be able to test their knowledge of Amish culture through an interactive kiosk designed to correct common misconceptions about the Amish.
Due to an expansion project that will provide additional exhibition galleries and visitor accessibility, the Quilt and Textile Museum is closed through late November 2007
The People’s Place Quilt Museum
3510 Old Philadelphia Pike, Intercourse, PA 17534
The People's Place Quilt Museum features exhibits of antique Amish and Mennonite quilts (usually pre-1940) and other decorative arts. The museum is located on the second floor of the Old Country Store. Admission is free.
For more Lancaster County museums, see also the following. Please note that since the themes of the museums often overlap, some of the museums may be listed under more than one category.
Lancaster Family Museums
Mennonite and Amish Museums
Return to Lancaster County Museums From Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Art Museums