Alden Gallery Opens at Worcester Historical Museum
Saturday, February 23, 2013
This new space is the catalyst for a host of programs and endeavors that will connect younger audiences with Worcester’s past. Made up of four distinct spaces that represent significant timeframes in Worcester history, the Alden Family Gallery is designed for children, families, teachers, school groups, and members to interact, explore, and discover Worcester in a whole new way.
"The gallery is designed for ages 5 - 12 but at the opening we saw lots of adults participating - listening to the old phones or competing in the gear assembly activity. The main purpose is to share Worcester's story in an interactive way and for visitors to put themselves in the roll of a factory worker or shopper at Stephen Salisbury's Store - you really get to see how different life was," says exhibition coordinator Vanessa Bumpus.
The Alden Family Gallery was designed to incorporate four distinct spaces: CitySquare, which represents Worcester’s continued development; Salisbury Store, which connects children to late 18th century Worcester; The Factory, which focuses on the ingenuity of six Worcester residents; and Mrs. B’s Diner, where the past meets the present through oral histories, music and imaginative-play. Artifacts are hidden and displayed throughout the four spaces to invite exploration in the Alden Family Gallery and then throughout the rest of the museum. The artifacts illustrate the connection of everyday objects to the larger story of Worcester.
"The public should visit because they want to hear more of the Worcester story, which is really their story," says Bumpus. She tells the anecdote of a women whose memory was sparked by one of the exhibits a video about the White City.
"She told me about how she went there as a child and rode the tilt-a-whirl. She was sitting on the edge and when the ride stopped she tripped into a giant pit where they kept the grease to put on the rides so they would work. The employees let her mother bathe her in a sink in a back trailer. That memory was triggered by something she saw here when she was bringing her two grandsons to the new gallery."
This fits with the overall mission of the Worcester Historical Museum.
"It's all about sharing stories and that is what we do here at WHM. We collect and preserve the community's stories. Our target is everyone because everyone has a story."
After the loss of their potential home for the museum on Route 146, the Worcester Historical Museum set about revamping their existing building at 30 Elm Street, thus becoming thenew3O. There had always been plans for an interactive family gallery to coincide with the move, so when it was clear that Worcester Historical Museum would remain Downtown, they decided to create the same opportunities in their existing residence.
"We also love the idea of everyone getting a "hands on" look at history and creating a new space for the community to visit," says Bumpus
With an investment of over half-a-million dollars into the gallery, Worcester Historical Museum turned to one of the best in the field of creative museum learning by collaborating with Boston Children’s Museum. WHM utilized the expertise of Boston Children’s Museum in developing design and content concepts for a new dynamic space for children and families. To further assist in content development WHM also consulted with the Alden Family Gallery Advisory Committee, a group of dedicated volunteers made up of educators from the Worcester Public Schools and faculty of Worcester State University.
The Alden Family Gallery was made possible with generous support provided by the George I. Alden Family Trust, the Rockwell Foundation, Brenda Booth Clapp and George F. Booth II, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
For more information, visit the Worcester Historical Museum website.
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