Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

1876 World’s Fair Weekend

June 10, 2023 @ 10:00 am - June 11, 2023 @ 3:00 pm

Travel back in time and celebrate the engineering, industry, and culture of Philadelphia’s 1876 Centennial International Exhibition. Enjoy machinery demonstrations, pop-up exhibits, Victorian games, family activities, music and food!

June 10th 10am-3pm

June 11th 10am-3pm

Free with admission; Youth 12 and under FREE on Sunday



About the 1876 Centennial International Exhibition

145 years ago, in 1876, Philadelphia hosted the Centennial International Exhibition, considered the country’s first World’s Fair. Visitors from 37 countries trekked to the site, located on a sprawling 450 acre campus, with nearly 10 million visitors taking in the sights, sounds, and smells across the span of six months.

Machinery Hall, the second largest building on the grounds, plays an important role in the country’s industrial history.  Everything from massive steam engines to intricate woodworking machinery were on display, fully introducing America’s industrial might on the world’s stage for the first time.

Tentative Schedule

Download the official event program with times and descriptions here.



Riveting Demo 10:15

Explore the Ribbon Loom 10:30

Victorian Parlor Games 11:00

Corliss Steam Engine & Baxter Boiler Engine Demo 11:30

Meet & Greet with President Grant 12:00

Victorian Parlor Games 12:30

Explore the Ribbon Loom 1:00

Antebellum Marine Band 1:15

Corliss Steam Engine Demo with President Grant 2:30

Baxter Boiler Demo 2:30


Explore the Ribbon Loom 10:30

Victorian Parlor Games 11:00

Corliss Steam Engine & Baxter Boiler Engine Demo 11:30

Meet & Greet with President Grant 12:00

Victorian Parlor Games 12:00

Explore the Ribbon Loom 12:30

Guest Lecture: 1876: The Inventors Republic, by Dr. John Smith, Lehigh University 12:00

Antebellum Marine Band 1:15

Corliss Steam Engine Demo with President Grant 2:30

Baxter Boiler Demo 2:30


Meet and Greet President Grant

Printing Press Demos

Power Loom Demos

Tin Casting/Metal Melting for Kids

Tin Can Communications: Telephones and the Centennial Kids Activity

Model Steam Engines in Motion

Victorian Parlor Games


Bethlehem Public Library

South Bethlehem Historical Society

Sigal Museum

Moravian Historical Society

Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites (Sat. Only)

Rough & Tumble Engineers Historical Association (Sat. Only)


Sat & Sun. at 11:30 and 2:30

Corliss Demo

Our massive 115-ton Corliss steam engine is a focal point of the museum’s 13,000 square foot exhibit space, where it has been mechanically restored to its former glory and repainted its original color. Join us as we operate the engine and learn more about this fascinating piece of industrial history from the museum’s historian.

Sun. Jun. 11th at 12pm 

1876: The Inventors Republic, lecture by Dr. John Smith. At the time of the Centennial our American patent system was one of the few institutions not limited to white men, which prompted a number of black and women inventors to apply for patents. Dr. John Smith, Associate professor emeritus at Lehigh University, initially went to school for engineering. His technological background has provided him a unique perspective on the history of technology and industry.

Sat. & Sun. at 1:15pm

Antebellum Marine Band

The 1876 World’s Fair Weekend will feature live music by the Antebellum Marine Band, which presents the US Marine Band of the 1800’s, its look and its music, with a full woodwind section to compliment the brass.

Sat & Sun. at 2:30pm

President Grant and the Corliss 

The 18th President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, opened the 1876 World’s Fair with great fanfare. After music, and a speech, he led the crowds to Machinery Hall, where he and Emperor Dom Pedro of Brazil turned on the mighty Corliss Engine, an engineering marvel. Join us as we re-enact this historical moment in the 21st Century.


Replica 1870s Velocipede Railroad Handcar Demo

Bill McCarthy will demonstrate his replica hand and foot powered rail car, known as a Velocipede, on a short section of temporary track.   These vehicles were developed in the 1870s and remained popular until the internal combustion engine made them largely obsolete.  This particular machine was inspired by a three-wheel design built by the Sheffield Velocipede Car Company.  Bill McCarthy has been an operator and restorer of historic machinery for over four decades, doing business as Restoration Millwork in Riegelsville, PA.  He has built everything from bar counters to fully functioning marine steam engines.


Operating Replica of an 1876 Gas Engine Demo

On Saturday, June 10th, only, an operating replica of a Schleicher Bros. Otto & Langen atmospheric gas engine, very similar to the type exhibited and operated at the 1876 Centennial Exposition, will be running at NMIH.  This will be the first time the engine has been shown outside of Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Association in Kinzers, PA.  The primitive design does not use a crank, but instead relies on atmospheric pressure, gravity, and the vacuum created within the cylinder, after the fuel has been consumed, to turn a rack and pinion drive via a piston moving in a vertical cylinder.  A one way clutch turns the flywheel, producing 1/2 of a horsepower.  There are no spark plugs, no gas tank, and no muffler.  It utilizes an open flame ignition that visitors can observe at the base of the engine.   A modern approximation of illuminating (town) gas, not gasoline, is held in a gas bladder before being piped to the engine.  The noisy and soon inefficient design was superceded by the Otto Silent Gas Engine.  The successor design, utilizing the same four cycle principle of modern internal combustion engines, is exemplified within the Centennial Gallery at NMIH by the display of the oldest surviving American built four cycle engine, on loan from the Smithsonian Institution.   The visiting replica engine was built by Bill Hazzard of King of Prussia, PA.  It is normally only seen by the public at shows held a few times a year at the Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Association in Kinzers, PA.


June 10, 2023 @ 10:00 am
June 11, 2023 @ 3:00 pm


National Museum of Industrial History
602 East Second Street
Bethlehem, 18015 United States
+ Google Map
View Venue Website