This week I am travelling around the States with come colleagues and I am going to add updates from the places I visit. I’m hoping to add some more detail and some illuminating photos once I get back to the UK. The first stop is Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.
I had read about Williamsburg but I hadn’t fully appreciated the scale of the site or how multi-functional Williamsburg is. Colonial Williamsburg has a golf course, spa, several hotels and restaurants. Williamsburg also takes the museum shop to a whole new level with a shopping area called Merchants Square.
However, the heritage interpretation, research and collections management is also something to behold. The Living History is well thought out, with a mix of first person, third person, general costumed facilitator-guides and craftspeople. The new coffee house is a particularly good example, which engages visitors in a familiar yet unfamiliar environment where revolutionary ideas took shape during the period in question. Heritage crafts are kept alive through the traditional master-apprentice system, and in the museum and collections store we also found incredible collections of objects cared for by curators and conservators in custom designed premises.
Unfortunately I only had a day there when I really needed a week. It’s a challenging site which deals with multiple historic narratives and a range of different kinds of resources and I’m sure to post more when I get back.