You have to start somewhere


When does it start?

I’m part of the Baby Boom Generation, or at least the tail end of it. Now, when I walk through antique stores, my eyes and mind are constantly sifting through all the piles and displays looking for the toys and games that were a pleasurable part of my past. When I do find something that I used to play with, my mind takes me back briefly to a time without stress, pressure, and responsibility. It just makes me feel good.

Perhaps this is another way for historical societies to reach out to younger generations, getting them interested and involved in their town’s history at an earlier age. Displays of artifacts from the 1800s through WWII, while very important, can appear distant and unconnected to a Millennial, just like so many of the uninspired history classes that they were forced to endure while in school. How about pulling together a collection of artifacts from their childhood? Maybe it doesn’t represent the bulk of your society’s collection, but your mission statement probably includes words such as inspire, educate, and possibly, entertain. You fail to do that when you aren’t introducing the younger generation to an appreciation of their own history.

An example of a more universally appealing display might be a collection of dolls that includes primitive examples that have been played with by the original settlers, all the way up to the plastic, toy store products that Millennials played with and tossed out when they went off to college.

Typically, school districts will arrange to have busloads of young children visit local museums and a restoration village. The children might learn about making candles or ropes, and may also play dress-up as a way of helping them understand how life was in the old days. These are good experiences, but I fear that only a very small percentage of the children will be imprinted with a new desire to visit more places that their parents can take them to. Would it be possible or beneficial to blend these displays and activities with those that are closer to life just a generation or two earlier?

What do you think? What ideas are working in your town that you can share with all of us? How do you get more of the younger generations involved in protecting, preserving, and enjoying what you have to offer, sooner?

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