Most times, museum visitors expect to be reminded NOT to touch the items in the exhibits. In fact, many exhibits are designed so that the items on display are protected from being handled. Artifacts are generally displayed inside cases, or placed behind barriers. However, there are some exhibits and displays which are meant to be hands-on for the visitors. Of course, these displays don’t contain artifacts, but they are still effective in educating the museum’s visitors, especially the younger ones! Let’s take a look at some of these displays in my museum.
|The answer and some additional information can be discovered by opening the door below each bone.|
|In our Camp Life gallery, visitors can read cards which describe some of the drugs used during the Civil War. A similar display nearby has cards about some of the diseases commonly seen in the camps.|
|This display panel introduces visitors to several Civil War surgeons. More information about each surgeon can be seen behind the doors.|
|Another Discovery Station involves information about the horses and mules used in the Civil War. Each bucket here has a question about the feeding of horses and mules on the lid, with the answer printed beneath the lid.|
|Do you think you know how much water a horse or mule would drink in a day?|
|Were you right?|
|It seems fitting to have a Discovery Station about children! There were more children who served in the Civil War than you might imagine.|
|This panel allows visitors to learn the stories of some of the wounded soldiers.|
|Private Lewis Martin, Co. E, 29th United States Colored Troops, had his right arm and left foot amputated as a result of wounds sustained during the Battle of Petersburg, Virginia on July 30, 1864. This photo came from the National Archives.|
|We certainly couldn’t leave out the Civil War nurses!|
|Visitors can also read some of the wartime letters of another nurse, Clarissa Jones, in this display. Letters such as these give a deeper look into the feelings and experiences of the writer than an informational panel can.|
So, as you can see there are some times when it is acceptable to touch the exhibits!
Photos courtesy of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, except where otherwise noted.