“Living history museums immerse you in the past and can help you feel
more connected to ancestors.” ` (Morton, 2019).
Living collections are a favorite to be sure. However, we all enjoy the diversity, as well as the observational experiences that these collections bring to the community and others. I have favorites, the Getty and the Smithsonian Gardens. I chose to discuss the latter. Its user-friendly website has information on their Living Collections Management, which includes the following categories: Collections Information System and Mapping, Digitization Efforts, Explore Our Gardens with Plant Explorer, Explore Our StoryMaps, and Labeling Living Collections. Upon clicking on the box for Collections Information System and Mapping: I was directed to information on managing plant records and mapping the tree collection. The gardens have a “well-known proprietary geographic information systems software suite of tools to collect, manage, and maintain mapped data about the collection” (Smithsonian Gardens, 2021). In addition, they have scenes from their gardens under Smithsonian Gardens Digital Backgrounds. I decided to click on another box titled StoryMaps. Their mapping collections tell immersive stories of the gardens. I enjoyed walking through their gardens with this creative tool. The planning was well thought out. This is an excellent way to teach people of all ages how to navigate through a magnificent garden utilizing technology that is user-friendly. I had no issues with the website. Below is an example of one photo in their collection, Ripley Garden.
A living museum creates historical settings to replicate past periods in time. “Many countries and regions host living history museums that celebrate local cultures, trades, arts, and history” (Morton, 2019). The objective is to provide visitors with a view into the past, as well as accurately portraying the culture, dress, day to day activities, and events etc. The key is that living history museums provide the interpretations in the first-person present. These interactions can involve visitor participation, as well. I was surprised at the level of detail and research accuracy for most museums. I’m sure that people make mistakes and have been caught with inaccurate accounts.
I was interested in the top six living history museums in the world. They are Land of Legends, Lejre, Zealand, Denmark. The Land of Legends depicts Danish narratives from the mid-1800s through the Viking, Iron and Stone Ages periods. Visitors can experience historical homesteads, buildings, boats, livestock, daily handicrafts, and chores that were performed during a particular time period (Morton, 2019).
The largest open-air museum is located in Ungersheim, France. The Ecomusée d’Alsace has recreated an entire Alsatian village from 100 to 150 years ago. Visitors can walk back in time and experience homes and furniture, types of clothing, and an array of household items that were utilized on a day to day basis (Morton, 2019).
The Kommern Open Air Museum in Germany celebrates Germany’s storied population. The museum features clusters of historical buildings and an old marketplace exhibit with activities. “Reenactors take on the roles of peasant, cartwright, mousetrap peddler, blacksmith, and others who discuss their trades with you” (Morton, 2019).The aroma of fresh-baked bread permeates the air from a nearby wood-fired oven.Visitors can greet the farms livestock. Additionally, the museum provides a window into past local gardens (Morton, 2019).
Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh, Northern Ireland shares the mass migration experiences of Northern Irish immigrants coming to North America. Staff demonstrate traditional crafts and share their food along with depicting thatched Ulster cottages and cabins. Visitors can board a life-size ship from the 1800s, as well as covered wagons and homesteads from the frontier way of life in the United States (Morton, 2019).
Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia calls itself: The world’s largest living history museum. This living museum recreates the city’s British colonial period during the 1700s.The interpreters portray historical figures such as a watchmaster, trades people, as well as their apprentices at work.Visitors can ask the actors about their tool usages and techniques (Morton, 2019).
St. Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff, Wales celebrates Welsh life and its history. The museum’s 16th-century castle, its gardens and forty historical buildings homes, mills, and working farm and livestock, bake house, tannery, hotel, and workmen’s institute etc. provides visitors with a rich representation of Wales past history (Morton, 2019).
My questions: What living collection would you choose to create and develop for the viewing public and why? Finally, I enjoy the hands on approach and the participant observations of that these museums provide its visitors, as well as the immense educational experience/s.
Morton, S. (2019, Dec). Top Living History Museums Around the World. Retrieved Feb 21, 2021 from https://www.familysearch.org/blog/en/top-6-living-history-museums/
Smithsonian Garden. (2021). Smithsonian Garden. Retrieved Feb 21, 2021 from https://gardens.si.edu/support-smithsonian-gardens/