Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Visitor experience at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park

I had the pleasure of making a field trip Conner Prairie, famous for its living history, which recently changed its name from a museum to an "interactive history park." I was curious to see if the newer style of interpretation, as shown in their CD-ROM Opening Doors, was as effective as I'd heard. This post will cover the first person interpretation, done mainly in the section called Prairietown. The buildings are not original to the site, but are all old buildings moved from other locations in Indiana.
Everyone you see in this area is in period attire, unless a staff member has entered from another area. But they still don't break character. Here's a short clip, including one amazing volunteer named Iris O'Donnell who is 12.

In the doctor's house... apothecary items made from their garden.
Handbills outside buildings tell changing stories.
A room at the Golden Eagle Inn, where you learn that you would share this bed.
Kitties are part of the story, and probably offer vector control as well.
Toys invite kids to jump in and play.
Here are the invites for the daily party, which visitors can help write out or take with them.
I loved how everything was touchable and nearly all the buildings were staffed, had fires going, and had food cooking. It was a truly remarkable museum experience! More in another post about some other aspects of the Conner Prairie visitor experience.

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