Living-History Museums Struggle to Draw VisitorsBreaking News
Accordingly, at Old Sturbridge Village -- an outdoor museum where an 1830s town has been re-created down to the cider mill and the Gloucester Old Spots pigs -- they used to ignore the holiday as well.
Used to. Until, in the past few years, attendance started to slip. "How many times can you tell the story, 'They didn't celebrate it'?"
asked Susanna Bonta, a museum spokeswoman.
Now, in December the village gets a makeover that might make a Puritan -- or a historian -- blanch. There is a Christmas tree (not popularized in the United States until the 1840s), a visit from Santa Claus (who didn't take his current form until after 1850) and a series of nighttime tours showing the village lit by (electric) candlelight. These are times for creative thinking at the country's "living history" parks, where officials worry that their old formula of restored buildings, costumed interpreters and anvil-banging demonstrations is losing its tourist appeal.
Museums from Virginia to Michigan are trying to add an edge. How about a walk-through theatrical production? An overnight stay in a pilgrim's house? Who'd like to try on 19th-century replica underwear?
In this fast-moving age, apparently, just making the past come alive isn't enough. "It's just a larger, competitive world," said John Caramia, a North Carolina museum official and past president of the Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums.
comments powered by Disqus
- How Clinton Could Respond on Supreme Court Vacancy
- Trump and Clinton Way Ahead in South Carolina
- McConnell Says Senate Will Wait to Replace Scalia
- Antonin Scalia Is Dead
- Clinton Says Sanders Would Be Threat to Obama Legacy
- Internal Tracker Shows Trump Leading in South Carolina
- How the Primaries are Rigged Against Sanders
- Carson Sees Fundraising Resurgence
- Trump Has GOP Mega Donors Frozen
- Quote of the Day
- Top GOP Candidates Haven’t Released Tax Returns
- Trump Attack Ads Finally Begin
- Super PACs Gear Up for Clinton
- Cruz App Mines Data from Your Phone
- Trump Way Ahead in South Carolina
- Ben Carson used an apparently fake Joseph Stalin quote — and the Internet loved it
- Rubio exaggerates in saying it's been 80 years since a 'lame duck' made a Supreme Court nomination
- Humans Hard-Wired to Teach, Anthropologist Says
- Parents outraged after students shown ‘white guilt’ cartoon for Black History Month
- Maryland is once again considering retiring its state song
- Historian at the center of Sanders-Clinton debate
- James Loewen Says Additional Baltimore Confederate Statues Should be Removed
- NYT History Book Reviews: Who Got Noticed this Week?
- A historian’s advice to students thinking of getting a PhD in a tough economic climate
- German historian Heinz Richter cleared of charges