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Visiting the Museum of Indian Culture in Allentown

Pennsylvania has many fantastic history museums, but few focus on telling the story of Native Americans. That’s why I was so excited to visit the Museum of Indian Culture in Allentown, PA.

The Museum of Indian Culture was founded in 1980, making it the oldest museum in PA to exclusively focus on Native American history. The museum strives to tell the story of the Lenape and other Northeastern Woodland Native American cultures. However, they also have information on other tribes from throughout the country.

The museum is located just south of downtown Allentown in a 1750s Pennsylvania German stone farmhouse near the banks of the Little Lehigh Creek. It sits on the edge of the Lehigh Parkway, a large public park that includes popular attractions like the Li’l-Le-Hi Trout Nursery and Bogert’s Covered Bridge.

Looking across the road at the Museum of Indian Culture in Allentown PA
Looking across the road to the historic building that houses the museum.

The museum itself is relatively small with only three rooms of displays on the home’s first floor. However, they pack a ton into this area, so there is definitely a lot to see here.

The focus of the museum is on the Lenape, also known as the Delaware, who once lived in the Lehigh Valley, southeastern PA, Delaware, New Jersey, and southern New York. 

The largest room in the museum is home to a diorama that shows what life was like for Native Americans before the arrival of Europeans to the region. This is well done and really helps to bring the signage and artifacts on display.

Lenape diorama in the Museum of Indian Culture in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania
There are some neat Lenape dioramas in the museum.

Speaking of which, there are a lot of artifacts here, as well as some well-done signage that helps to tell the story of the items on display and the people that they once belonged to.

Some of the display cases here highlight archeological sites in and around the Lehigh Valley and even have items that were found at these spots. I really enjoyed these spaces as they really brought to life the fact that Native Americans had lived in these spaces that we occupy in the 21st century.

Room full of display classes in the Museum of Indian Culture in Allentown Pennsylvania
There are thousands of artifacts on display, many found in and around the Lehigh Valley.

Another room in the Museum of Indian Culture highlights the contributions of Native American women. Given that you so often hear about the male tribe leaders and warriors, it was really great to learn about some impactful women from recent Native American history, and the role that they are playing to shape not only Native peoples but also the country and the world.

There are also display cases in the museum that highlight other indigenous cultures, particularly from the American Southwest. It was interesting to see how these cultures compared and contrasted with each other by examining the items on display.

In addition to the display areas, the Museum of Indian Culture also features a gift shop and a research library for those looking to learn more about Native Americans, particularly as they relate to the larger region.

Native American clothing in the Museum of Indian Culture in the Lehigh Valley
The Museum of Indian Culture offers an interesting look at Native American cultures from throughout North America.

The museum is also an official extension of the Delaware Nation Historic Preservation Office. This allows them to work with Native peoples and showcase more of their history and culture.

Overall, the Museum of Indian Culture is a really interesting spot to visit when exploring the Lehigh Valley. And, while it isn’t overly large, it does a great job telling the story of Native Americans in the region and offering a bit of a glimpse into their history and both the historic and modern culture of these tribes.

If you love history, this is definitely a spot to add to your list.

Note that photos are not typically allowed in the museum, but I was given special permission during my initial visit to take a few images.

Looking for more things to do in the area? Check out the Lehigh Valley Heritage Center, the National Museum of Industrial History, and the Allentown Art Museum.

If you want to learn more about Pennsylvania’s rich Native American history, visit the Indian Steps Museum, Meadowcroft Rockshelter, and Bushy Run Battlefield.


Museum of Indian Culture

Hours: Friday-Sunday: 10a-4p
Also open Thursdays from June-August

Cost: Adults: $5, Kids: Free

Website: MuseumofIndianCulture.org

Address: 2825 Fish Hatchery Rd
Allentown, PA 18103

 

See map for other area attractions.


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