Past Exhibits

Immerse yourself in the imaginative world of Robert Fulton! Take an up-close look at painted miniatures, power a steam engine and explore how they propel ships forward. Learn how a submarine works through experiencing a traditional Cartesian diver. Hear first person narratives on the dock at the launch of the 1807 Clermont steamboat! Flip through Fulton’s personal papers and get inside the mind of this Industrious Revolutionary.

Fascinated by art, steam engines, canal engineering, and military technology, Fulton inspired to push the limitations of mechanical engineering. His innovations sparked the American Industrial Revolution, opened up new trade routes, and helped usher in a major wave of globalized trade on a scale never seen before. Fulton established a pattern of technological innovation that would go on to embody American ingenuity and leave an immeasurable legacy.

Featured in’s 12 Exhibits to Visit in Pennsylvania This Winter


With special thanks to

Northampton Community College FabLab

HFX Studios

The Works of a Mechanical Genius: The Legacy of John Fritz explores the life and legacy of General Superintendent and Chief Engineer John F. Fritz, an innovative ironmaster who has been touted as the founder of the American Steel Industry, alongside names like Andrew Carnegie.

Fritz built and oversaw the operations at the Bethlehem Iron Company from 1860-1893. The Works are described in engineering journals of the day as, “one of the most famous enterprises in the world – the Mecca of engineer-pilgrims from abroad and the pride and pattern of American practice.”
From modest beginnings, Fritz was mechanically inclined and determined to learn all he could about the iron trade from the workers themselves. Constantly striving to improve every step in the process, he enthusiastically implemented new ideas. His innovative spirit and determination to surmount challenges drove the transformation of the Lehigh Valley into the first heavy industrial heartland of the nation.
Explore the early decades of the Bethlehem Iron Company, parent company to the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, and examine Fritz’ impact on work, technology, defense, and the rapid cultural changes experienced during the 20th Century. Through showcasing rarely seen special collections pertaining to the life of this trailblazing industrial pioneer, we seek to inspire visitors to learn more about the process of innovation and the role of the iron and steel industry in the formation of our nation and cultural identity.
This Exhibit marks the 200th Anniversary of the birthday of this industrial pioneer whose thirst for knowledge led him on a path to become one of the most revered ironmasters of his day, leaving behind an incalculable imprint on the world. The exhibit celebrates the life and legacy of one who poured the foundation for a steel empire and its impact on the regional and national stage. 

The Works of a Mechanical Genius: The Legacy of John Fritz

now through October 16, 2022

at the

National Museum of Industrial History

This exhibit was created in partnership with


Martha Capwell Fox

National Canal Museum
Johnstown Area Heritage Association
Lehigh University Libraries
Bethlehem Area Public Library
Todd Bessemer
John Fisher
Trevor Shellhammer
John Smith
Bill Humm
Pennsylvania State Museum
Warren County Division of Cultural & Heritage Affairs
Northampton County Historical & Genealogical Society
Moravian Archives, Bethlehem
Hagley Museum and Libraries
Keystone Sound Design
Jim Bullock
Don Young

The Works of a Mechanical Genius is dedicated to the memory of Craig Lee Bartholomew, Lance Metz, and Ralph Grayson Schwarz. Through their vision, the history of the iron industry, the global significance of this site, and the story of John Fritz will live on to inspire future generations of innovators.

Funding for the Museum is provided in part by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission’s Cultural and Historical Support Grant Program

Machines of Interest:

The Selected Works of Stephen Mallon

October 2020 – August 2021

Critically acclaimed photographer Stephen Mallon shared a collection of some of his most captivating, riveting, and thought-provoking pieces in this exhibit at Bethlehem’s National Museum of Industrial History.  Machines of Interest featured over two dozen original prints from the artist’s collection spanning life on the rails to deconstruction in the recycling yard to tracing the elements of human-made machines.




Stephen Mallon
Front Room Gallery
Hotel Bethlehem

This program was funded in part with funding from the Hotel Tax Grant Program through the County of Northampton Department of Community & Economic Development.


Funding for NMIH is provided in part by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museums Commission Cultural and Historical Support Grant Program.


Art of Precision:

The Engineered Sculpture of Christopher Bathgate

January 2020 – September 2020

From wood turning and metal work to glassblowing and ceramics, industrial processes have always found their way into the production of fine art. NMIH is pleased to exhibit the selected works of Chris Bathgate, a self-trained machinist employing handmade tools, automated CNC milling machines and metal lathes to create complex artistic expressions inspired by industry. Playing with the tension between aesthetic vs utility, form vs function, and industrial vs handmade, Bathgate’s inter-disciplinary work lies at the intersection of art, craft, and design. It serves as an example of how computer-mediated fabrication may bridge the divide between art, craft, and industrial production in the Digital Age. Art of Precision: The Engineered Sculpture of Christopher Bathgate will be on view from January 11-August 30, 2020.

This exhibit is generously sponsored by:

This project was funded in part with funding from the Hotel Tax Grant Program through the County of Northampton Department of Community & Economic Development.

Funding for NMIH is provided in part by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museums Commission Cultural and Historical Support Grant Program.




Don’t Touch That Dial: 100 Years of Radio

February 2019 – December 2019

Radios employ the magic of sound by harnessing the electromagnetic energy around us, and NMIH’s exhibit traced the history of the radio industry from the discovery of radio waves to the debut of the iPod.  Don’t Touch That Dial featured nearly one hundred historic radios and radio components, including rare pieces from the Bethlehem Radio Corporation, ephemera from the now-defunct WKAP, one-of-a-kind artifacts from Bell Labs, and more. Visitors to this interactive exhibit had a chance to listen to early broadcasts, see an amateur radio operator’s station in action, try their hand at creating radio sound effects using the art of foley, and craft messages using Morse code.

This program was funded in part with funding from the Hotel Tax Grant Program through the County of Northampton Department of Community & Economic Development.



Hot Off the Press: Printing and Papermaking

May 2018 – October 2018

Hot Off the Press: Printing and Papermaking was hands-on look at how the printed word revolutionized the spread of knowledge throughout the world. From the Gutenberg press to linotype machines, like those seen in the hit movie The Post, NMIH’s exhibit gave an in-depth and interactive look at how printing presses, paper, and ink were used to spark the most influential industry on the planet.

The exhibit included rare printings, including 17th Century translations, the first German-translated Bible printed in the Colonies, and the Ephrata Martyrs’ Mirror, the largest book printed in Colonial America. Paired with these texts are working printing presses that visitors were able to use to print take-home mementos, a one-of-a-kind scale model of a Fourdrinier papermaking machine, and mosaics saved from the now-demolished Bethlehem Steel Printery.

The Impossibly Real Art of Peter Maier

January 2018 – March 2018

Peter Maier has had a very interesting and unique career. A graduate of Pratt Institute, Maier was first involved in Fine Art in his freshman year as assistant to sculptor Robert Mallary for a work commissioned by architect Phillip Johnson for the New York State Pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair — as well as being involved in Industrial Design.

Maier went on to enjoy a distinguished career as an Automobile Designer. Being one of the youngest ever to be hired by GM, Maier rose in the ranks to become Senior Designer for Cadillac, Pontiac and Chevrolet Motor Divisions, thereby becoming part of an elite group. Maier left the security of his position at GM in 1980—and although approached by other major automotive firms—embarked on a journey to pursue his passion as a Fine Artist on his own.

Working on hi-tech fabricated aluminum panels and utilizing a state-of-the-art waterborne paint, Maier developed a unique technique and multi-layering process that combines industrial paint technology with traditional brush work. This process, along with the experimental paint, gives the artwork a 3-dimensional effect which cannot be achieved or duplicated with traditional paint mediums. Referring to an ArtNews article by Barbara A. MacAdam, “The paintings appear to be impossibly real.”

Making America’s Pastime

May 2017 – October 2017


America’s love of Major League Baseball has been a constant since its birth 146 years ago.  NMIH’s exhibit, Making America’s Pastime, explored how the balls, bats, gloves, and uniforms of the MLB are made and how the MLB became a $9.5 billion industry.

In addition to seeing how baseball’s bats, balls, and gloves evolved over time, patrons learned about Bethlehem Steel’s impact on Major League Baseball and how the company’s wartime league wooed the likes of Babe Ruth and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.