Stuffed birds and a bear

Packer Museum: Past + Future

Lehigh's first museum was once located in what is now the Clayton University Center at Packer Hall, which will undergo extensive renovations.

Story by

Christina Tatu

Photography by

Lehigh University Special Collections

Taken by a photography student in 1886, the above image shows stuffed birds and a bear on display in Lehigh’s first museum, once located in Packer Hall, now the Clayton University Center at Packer Hall.

The stone building has had many uses since its construction in 1868. As the first structure built for Lehigh, the Clayton University Center housed the president’s office, classrooms, a chemical laboratory, library and chapel, all of which were later relocated on an expanding campus.

As part of an extensive renovation in 1956, the interior was gutted and a three-story stone addition went up on the building’s south side, facing South Mountain.

The museum was housed in what was once the Asa Packer Dining Room. The dining room was designed for use as a chapel, but after Packer Memorial Church opened in 1887, the museum was moved up a floor to occupy the old chapel space.

Changes are yet again under way as the Clayton University Center will undergo extensive renovations.

Plans call for reimagined spaces for dining, studying, socializing and meeting. Outside, a large fire pit will be added, the masonry cleaned up and repointed and new walkways, lighting and landscaping installed.

Story by

Christina Tatu

Photography by

Lehigh University Special Collections

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