Local history museums

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Today, my husband and I went to a museum located in Woonsocket, RI, which is the town I spent part of my childhood/adolescence in. I consider it to be my home town, even though I spent the first years of my life in Florida, because all of my mother’s family is from there, and most still live in the area.

The town has a long history of French Canadian immigrants and textile mill work, and this museum focuses on that history and culture. Amazingly, I had never been to the museum when I actually lived in Woonsocket, so I was excited to go now. Especially since I’m getting into museum studies in my library science program.

But there was still so much that I didn’t know about the town I lived in. Of course, I learned about textile mills in school, since it’s part of the culture of the area. And there are still mill buildings around, but many of them are empty or have been converted into other things. So it was really interesting to learn more about that work and lifestyle.

Because I’m learning about museum studies, like I mentioned, I also think it’s interesting to see how different museums treat their collections and subject matter. Art museums are pretty similar a lot of the time, since art is art no matter where you go. With the exception of really out there modern art, a lot of it is treated the same. But local history museums are a little bit different, since each one has different local history to portray. And different subject matter requires a different presentation. A lot of these types of museums have to use more interactive means of representation, with exhibits that you can walk through, videos you can watch, or audio you can listen to. So I think it’s interesting to see how each museum works with the collection that they have.

This museum was small, but it was no less interesting for its size, and I thought that the curators had done a really good job with their local history.

Alyss

(photo courtesy of the Rhode Island Historical Society)

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