Current and Coming features detailed information about current and forthcoming programs, events, exhibits and activities of historical and cultural institutions in Pennsylvania. Originated as “Currents.” Retitled “Current and Coming,” Winter 2003, and then retitled “Out and About,” Fall 2005. Revived as “Current and Coming,” Winter 2013. Ran regularly, Spring 1984 to Spring 2008, and then occasionally, Winter 2013 to Spring 2015.

Lincoln in Lehigh

More than one thousand objects relating to the nation’s sixteenth president are on view in a landmark exhibition, “Abraham Lincoln and the Promise of America,” currently on view at the Lehigh Valley Heritage Center and Museum in Allentown. The exhibit highlights a number of unique and rare objects, among them the ballot box in which Lincoln cast his vote in the election of 1860 and a mourning veil worn by Mary Todd Lincoln, both on loan from the Lincoln College Museum in Lincoln, Illinois.

Joseph Garrera, museum director, emphasizes the crucial role the Keystone State played in Lincoln’s route to the White House. “Without the support of Pennsylvania delegates at the Republican National Convention, William H. Seward of New York could have won the nomination and possibly the presidency,” Garrera notes. “One of the most active Lincoln supporters at the convention in Chicago was delegate Joseph Young, a wholesale and retail hardware merchant in Allentown.” He also says, “It’s important to remember that Lincoln’s ancestors lived in eastern Pennsylvania in Berks County and that he met a number of Lehigh Valley residents, including Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Ignatz Gresser.” During the 1862 Battle of Antietam, Gresser saved the life of a comrade, William Henry Sowden, who later served two terms in Congress.

More than eight thousand square feet of gallery space are dedicated to “Abraham Lincoln and the Promise of America.” To make the exhibition as meaningful as possible for students, the museum convened an advisory group of more than thirty educators from throughout the Lehigh Valley. This panel offered critical advice and technical guidance on how best to illustrate Lincoln’s life and achievements, as well as interpret the era in which he lived. The museum also involved several prominent Lincoln scholars in the project.

In addition to galleries of contemporary portraits of Lincoln by artist Wendy Allen and enlarged photographs and vintage images, the exhibition includes political memorabilia, campaign ephemera, Lincoln’s lap desk, a clock that had been in Ford’s Theatre the night John Wilkes Booth assassinated the president, and a fragment of the blood-stained dress worn by actress Laura Keene, starring in Our American Cousin that evening, who cradled Lincoln’s head as he lay dying. Lenders of important artifacts include Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site, Washington, D.C., and the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Springfield, Illinois.

“Abraham Lincoln and the Promise of America” continues through Sunday, September 30.

Additional information is available by writing: Lehigh Valley Heritage Center and Museum, 432 West Walnut St., Allentown, PA 18102; by telephoning (610) 435-1074. Admission


Folk Art Tradition

“Made in Pennsylvania: A Folk Art Tradition,” newly opened by the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg, highlights important examples of fraktur, salt-glazed stoneware, tanware, quilts, coverlets, samplers, and painted furniture, all of which possess Pennsylvania origins.

Objects, presented in four separate galleries, were selected from the museum’s extensive holdings, as well as borrowed from private and public collections, by guest curators. The section showcasing fraktur, consisting of eighty exceptional examples borrowed from two important private collections, is divided into two parts. Part one is the first in-depth exhibition of Westmoreland County fraktur and includes forty pieces created by artists working in the county from 1788 to the 1870s. The second segment consists of exceptional fraktur made in Bucks, Centre, Lycoming, Northumberland, and Schuylkill Counties. R. David Brocklebank, who has collected data regarding this art form for thirty-five years, is serving as guest curator.

Stoneware collector Frank Swala, guest curator for salt-glazed stoneware and tan-ware, has worked with collectors in southwestern Pennsylvania and selected more than two hundred objects from a seven-county area, including pieces from his own collection. For the textiles component of “Made in Pennsylvania,” the West Overton Museums, the Washington County Historical Society, and private collectors lent coverlets. The Sewickley Valley Historical Society loaned a Civil War quilt. Thirty four samplers representing six southwestern Pennsylvania counties have been borrowed from private collectors, the Indiana County Historical and Genealogical Society, the Historical Society of Upper Saint Clair, Carnegie Museum of Art, and the American Folk Art Museum in New York. Harley N. Trice is guest curator. Charles Muller, author of Soap Hollow: The Furniture and its Makers (2002), guest curator of painted furniture, has selected eighteen examples, including pieces made in Soap Hollow and by Jacob Knagy, of Somerset County, from private collections throughout the region.

“Made in Pennsylvania: A Folk Art Tradition” continues through Sunday, October 14. An illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.


Fabulous Fifties

In celebration of Baby Boomers – a term used by demographers, sociologists, and the media to define Americans born between 1946 and 1964 – the Cumberland County Historical Society in Carlisle is showing “Bobby Socks to Bomb Shelters: The 1950s in Cumberland County.” The exhibit takes visitors back through time by a half-century to a period when Ike, Cool Cat, Sputnik, Cold War, Big Daddy, and Beatnik were household words. It was a time when families gathered in front of the television set for I Love Lucy, Father Knows Best, American Bandstand, Topper, Arthur Godfrey and His Friends, and The Donna Reed Show. It was the era of record players blaring Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable, Peggy Lee’s Fever, Buddy Holly’s Peggy Sue, Chuck Berry’s Maybellene, Bobby Darin’s Mack the Knife, and, of course, a host of hits by Elvis Presley, among them Blue Suede Shoes, Love Me Tender, and Blue Moon. Taking center stage in international affairs were Harry S Truman, Rosa Parks, Jonas Salk, Fidel Castro, Margaret Chase Smith, and Pope Pius XXIII.

The society has dedicated several galleries to “Bobby Socks to Bomb Shelters,” where visitors can examine advancements in healthcare, newspaper headlines of the day, and popular culture. A segment explores the Korean War through photographs, objects and artifacts, and military uniforms, in addition to a recreation of a period fallout shelter, complete with supplies and provisions. Curators and designers have transformed exhibit areas into a family room, kitchen, living room, and a teenage girl’s bedroom, all of which have been outfitted with authentic period pieces. The exhibit is complemented by a photography exhibit, “Life in the ‘50s.”

“Bobby Socks to Bomb Shelters: The 1950s in Cumberland County” continues through Saturday, August 4.

For more information, write: Cumberland County Historical Society, 21 North Pitt St., Carlisle, PA 17013; telephone (717) 249-7610; or visit the Cumberland County Historical Society website. Free.