Of the many cultures that have settled this region over the centuries and put their stamp on our traditions, foods, arts, music, celebrations and language, one of the least understood—despite its familiarity—is the Pennsylvania Dutch. 

Patrick J. Donmoyer, director of Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center at Kutztown University, is working to change that. Hex Signs: Sacred and Celestial Symbolism in Pennsylvania Dutch Barn Stars, the exhibition at Glencairn Museum that he is guest-curating, aims to crack open the meaning behind this Pennsylvania Dutch folk art tradition. 

Hex Signs explores sacred and celestial themes in the traditional arts of the Pennsylvania Dutch, with special emphasis on the decorated barns of Southeastern Pennsylvania. It features actual examples of barn stars, decorated objects and related images. Visitors will be able to purchase a full exhibition catalog, a collaboration of the Heritage Center and Glencairn Museum for this exhibition.

Donmoyer notes that barn stars—popularly called hex signs—"are among the most visible public expressions of Pennsylvania Dutch folk art. These abstract, geometric depictions of celestial bodies can be found primarily in Berks, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Bucks and other counties in the region and have come to represent the folk culture of the Pennsylvania Dutch.” 

Visitors may tour the exhibition’s artwork, artifacts, historic documents, photographs and tools of the sign painter’s trade 1-4:30pm Saturday and Sunday without a reservation for a suggested donation of $5, Tuesday through Friday as part of the 2:30 guided tour of the castle, as part of other paid guided tours and events or by appointment. Exhibition access is occasionally limited by public and private events; calling ahead of a visit is recommended.

Upcoming dates

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  • Starting Friday, March 1st, 2019, repeats every day until Sunday, November 03, 2019 @ 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm


Glencairn Museum

1001 Cathedral Road
Bryn Athyn, 19009


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