Southeastern Pennsylvania’s industrial history is all about size: large-scale things like steel mills, coal mines, textile mills, and shipyards. Their stories are so big, they easily outgrow the traditional indoor settings of museums that try to tell them. This reality recently led Bethlehem’s National Museum of Industrial History (NMIH) to a new, outdoor expansion.
The NIHM recently staged a ribbon-cutting on Foundry Park to coincide with its fifth anniversary. The curated items there are so large that the museum devoted 17,000 square feet of outdoor space to feature them.
The park includes a new area where visitors can see working machines. Using actual industrial machinery from Bethlehem Steel and beyond, the site shows the process of transforming raw materials into finished products and highlights innovations in industry.
Foundry Park’s massive artifacts include several original Bethlehem Steel machines, donated by Lehigh University. They include a towering hydraulic bending press, the first built in the U.S.
Visitors can take the controls of a restored Bethlehem Steel 1941 diesel-electric locomotive.
A pavilion, funded by the Air Products Foundation, provides space for demonstrations for school groups and a performance area for public events.
More information is at the National Museum of Industrial History.