History comes alive at Pickering Museum Village, with school visits out-pacing pre-COVID days

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Published June 8, 2023 at 10:19 am

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School visitor numbers at Pickering Museum Village have caught and passed pre-pandemic totals this spring, with more than 6,500 visits so far in 2023 – well above pre-COVID averages.

The Pickering Museum Village has been offering education programs for half a century and has been the core field trip destination in Durham Region for grade 3 school visits. Following the pandemic, teachers and students have shown “enthusiasm” to be back to learning at the museum again, said Laura Gibbs, Division Head Culture and Community Programming.

“It is so fantastic to see the museum buzzing with children as they explore the upgraded heritage spaces and experiences,” Gibbs said. “The museum provides a hands-on and immersive learning opportunity that students cannot get in the classroom.”

Feedback has been positive, she added, with teacher thanking the staff and volunteers for the “great immersive program for the kids.”

What’s old is best for an historical museum but new twists to traditional exhibits are even better, Gibbs noted, citing the new permanent exhibit at the 175-year-old Greenwood Blacksmith Shop that opened last summer, an upgrade made possible with funding from the Province of Ontario and Government of Canada.

The popular new experience features an interactive timeline that takes users on a journey from the 1860s to today to discover how blacksmiths adapted their trade to meet the changing needs of their communities. The virtual and hands-on exhibit  – bringing Pickerings’ past to life by utilizing the latest in media technology to resonate with new generations – includes elements where students can construct a wagon, learn how the forge works, test their strength at the bellows and learn about the science, engineering, technology, math and arts components that go into blacksmithing. The exhibit is paired with a new education program, The Blacksmith’s Apprentice Quest, for grade 3 students.

The museum also launched a new program about the Rebellion of 1837, tailored to grade 7 and 8 students. The museum has been making upgrades to the heritage buildings and exhibits to create more fun, hands-on experiences for students. Next year students will be able to explore a new Rebellion experience in the 1830s log house and see the past from a Black history perspective in the log barn.

The museum will also be offering a new interactive holiday program in November and December this year, Teddy’s Holiday Adventure. Students will use clues from different holiday traditions to visit several locations around the museum in order to help Teddy solve a Holiday puzzle.

For more information on school programs at Pickering Museum Village and to book a school trip, visit pickering.ca/pmveducation

Art by Dani Crosby

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