News and notes from Fredericksburg's entertainment scene
Show And Tell: Colonial Style
BY COLLETTE CAPRARA
FOR THE FREE LANCE–STAR
Colonial Williamsburg doesn’t just offer visitors a step back in time, with its blocks of Colonial-style structures, costumed townsfolk and skilled craftsmen. It also hosts hands-on activities for families.
Through Thanksgiving, these experiences provide a memorable immersion into 18th-century history.
“For both the parents and children of all ages, being able to touch and manipulate an object and sense it—that tactile reinforcement—truly brings history alive. Getting up close and personal with something makes it yours, and it means a great deal more than just hearing about it or reading about it in a history book,” said program developer Kristen Spivey. She remembers to this day a tricorn hat activity that she did when she was 9. And her own children have done test runs of the projects she designed.
The fall family activities, held at the Williamsburg museums, feature tours and a a sampling of Colonial-era trades. A “back-story” tour in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum provides information and discussion about objects on display, their creators and owners. The “Explore Baltimore Album Quilts” program focuses on learning about and working with textiles and provides information onquilting traditions from the 1800s.
In the “Kids in Art” program, visitors look for depictions of children in paintings in an exhibit—as subjects of portraits and background figures. Then they have an opportunity to create their own work of art to take home.
The “Accessorize” program, a companion to the “Fashion Accessories from Head to Toe” exhibit, features interesting items from yesteryear, including a tote-able “pocket” that was tied around the waist, worn under garments, and was accessed through a slit in a woman’s gowns.
Sure to attract plenty of attention, the “Scherenschnitte—What’s That?” program introduces the German art of scissor cutting. It includes a tour of an exhibit of intricate patterns and silhouettes that were created in the 18th and 19th centuries and lets visitors try their hand with the art.
“The programs give families an opportunity to create shared memories that they can talk about as they compare the Colonial era with their lives today,” said Spivey. “The activities definitely engage the children and, when the kids are engaged, so are the parents!”
What: Hands-on Family Fun activities
Where: Museums of Colonial Williamsburg are at the intersection of Francis and South Henry streets and entered through the Public Hospital of 1773.
When: Fall activities through Nov. 21. Holiday family activities begin Nov. 23. Back-story Tours: The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Tuesdays at 1:30 p.m. through Nov. 20. Explore Baltimore Album Quilts: Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. , through Nov. 21. Kids in Art: Fridays at 10:30 a.m. through Nov. 16. Accessorize: Fridays at 1:30 p.m., through Nov. 16. Scherenschnitte—What’s That? Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. through Nov. 17
Cost: All activities are included with the price of admission: adults $39.95; children 6 and older, $20.95; children under 6, free.
Info: 800/HISTORY, 757/220-7724; history.org
Collette Caprara is a local writer and artist.