Friday, February 17, 2012

Historic Arkansas Museum

Originally posted on my personal blog - but wanted to encourage other families to go, if you've not been already. - Julie
My mom is here for a few more days. Today we took her on a Friday Field Trip with us to the Historic Arkansas Museum.  I'm embarrassed to admit I've lived in Little Rock for so long and this was our first visit. This museum was chosen because I thought Mom would enjoy the Gone With the Wind exhibit, which is only there until April 30, and is worth the time to see.
A few things stand out about this museum:

1. The admission fee was reasonable ($6 total for 2 adults and 2 children.  A part of today's math lesson was for JI to figure out how much money I need to take to pay for admission.)
2. Yesterday I called and said, "I homeschool and have never been to your museum, when should I come?"  I found out the museum is trying something new: docents in costume on Fridays in January (the days will change in March - so call to ask.)  Having people in costume to give tours was a huge benefit to keep our attention!
3. We were there about 2 hours; if we'd been able to get out of the house before 10:30 I think we could have stayed longer.  I packed snacks but little children get hungry and cranky past noon regardless.

Our tour started with the blacksmith shop.
These guys LOVED their jobs.
For at least 30 minutes we stood and talked with these guys; not many tourists were on the grounds.  At the end of our chat, the guy in the hat made a nail for John Isaac.
And then he got to pump the billows!  The guy in the orange shirt loved history and had just returned from Colonial Williamsburg.  He told me that the architect, mason and builder of this blacksmith shop (all the same guy) also built the same blacksmith shop at Mt. Vernon, President Washington's home.
The shop is built accurately, using tools and techniques of the time...just like Noah Blake's family built in Diary of an Early American Boy. (A must read boy book, by the way.)  The orange shirted man also told me of author Brinton Turkle and said I should check out some of his Obadiah books for John Isaac. Anyone read them?
Next we visited other houses on the grounds of the museum.
The lady below was washing her clothes, and working wool.

She showed us where the phrase, "sleep tight; don't let the bed bugs bite" originated.  The beds of that time often used rope to hold the mattress.  Over time the rope would loosen and you would need to tighten the rope...and you probably know about bed bugs.  Ick.
We learned about the value of a bit ($0.125); two bits was a quarter and eight bits a dollar.
Finally we made it back inside the modern part of the museum.  This is where the Gone with the Wind paraphernalia is located.  Lots of costumes and even the typewriter that was used by the screenwriter.
Also a part of the museum is a collection of Bowie knives (this kind of knife originated in Arkansas.)  Wikipedia says, "it's not a single design but a series of knives improved several times by Jim Bowie."  And wow - what a character that man was.
The bowie knife collection was viewed about 12:15 and it was really time for us to leave the museum.  I think we will return again another day.

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