24 January 2010

New York: Children's history museum planned

An interactive children's history museum will open at the New York Historical Society in November 2011.

Genealogists will be happy that the museum's planned interactive features will include a place where children can videotape their own histories. There will be a place to use maps and documents to solve historical mysteries.

Perhaps genealogical societies - Jewish and general - could suggest that family history classes be offered for youngsters?

Children 12 and under will receive free admission to the society and free admission to the new museum.

Read the New York Times story here, which details the 4,000-square-foot "museum within a museum," focusing on young New Yorkers, as part of the major renovation ($60 million) of the historical society building. It will be called the DiMenna Children’s History Museum.

According to the story, the new museum will focus on children, such as Alexander Hamilton who came to New York to attend college and the young newspaper sellers of a century ago.

Museum president/CEO Louise Mirrer said:
“In schools, history tends to be about figures once they have matured and become important,” Ms. Mirrer said. “But if we want history to become alive for children, what better way to teach them than showing them children from other periods? We want to be on the permanent agenda of children and families in New York.”
A past president of the society, Columbia University history professor Kenneth T. Jackson said:
“It’s an unusual effort to make a serious attempt to engage young people with the past. Generally, children’s museums are not about history, and history museums are not about children.”
Exhibits will come from the society's collections and will be aimed at about a fourth-grade level.

Information about the “orphan trains” that took thousands of destitute children from New York to families in rural and farm communities across the country will be accompanied by a huge archive from the Children’s Aid Society: journal entries from social workers, children’s artwork, photographs and letters. Children will also be able to sit next to a cutout of a composite orphan on a three-dimensional train, listen to train noises and see a map of places along the routes.

In 2007, there were 243 children's museums in the US, with 78 being planned. The new project will be one of the few history museums specifically for children.

Read the complete story at the link above.

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