By: Martianne Stanger
Not long ago, a mom from a homeschooling group that our family is a part of set up a field trip to a museum I had never head of: the Old Colony Historical Society Museum in Taunton.
At first, I was hesitant to sign up to go on this field trip. Even though my children love history, they do not always do well in small places filled with many things they can look at, but not touch. Most of the museums we’d enjoyed before are expansive places that offer a wide variety of age-appropriate, hands-on activities to engage the children, as well as enough space to let kids be kids. I was not confident that the relatively tiny Old Colony Historical Society Museum would do the same.
However, since the History Museum is not too far from our home and our company there would be folks we know and like, I decided to go for it. The worst that could happen, I guessed, was that the museum and my children would not be a good fit, whereupon, I could easily make a hasty retreat home.
I am glad I made that decision! The field trip was a resounding success for us.
We arrived early and my boys were immediately engaged by opportunities to handle weapons and try on Civil War period uniforms. Then, once our entire field trip group had arrived, my boys sat tight during introductory remarks.
After that, they eagerly inspected “looking only” exhibits, searching for items on the age-appropriate scavenger hunt that the museum had prepared for our group. While doing so, they also delighted in discovering things they were allowed to touch – a canon exhibit and a school bell, which they enthusiastically rang!
Throughout our field trip to the Old Colony Historical Society Museum the children questioned, connected, learned, laughed… and, of course, returned to the hands-on Civil War display where they eagerly handled the weapons and uniforms again.
By the time the boys and I departed the museum, we realized that not only had we been among the first in our group to arrive, but we were also among the last to leave. Yep, they liked the place that much!
The museum is small, but child-friendly, with a wide variety of artifacts that offer glimpses of the past that are connected to the local area and a staff that makes the stories of these artifacts come alive. The volunteers that led our tour definitely enriched our experience with their deep knowledge of little-known facts and their obvious passion for connecting people to the past.