In 1935, the Wells family sought out a place to display their massive collection of New England antiquities. When they couldn't find one that was sufficient, they decided to build a museum. Since its founding, Old Sturbridge Village?a living-history museum with its own rich history?has granted visitors a chance to experience New England life in the 19th-century firsthand.
As they navigate a town and rustic countryside filled with 40 historic buildings, including an old schoolhouse, mansion homes, and three water-powered mills, visitors encounter heritage farm animals and interpreters in period costume. At regular times throughout the day, specific sites become interactive. A shoemaker cobbles a new pair of shoes, a blacksmith submerges steaming hunks of metal, and a soldier makes lifelike musket sounds with his mouth?all for the benefit of live audiences. Throughout the year, events such as cooking and craft-making classes further enhance the educational experience.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, immigrants flocked to Rhode Island in search of work and prosperity within the state's mill towns. Their labors?both on and off the factory floor?helped define the culture of the Blackstone Valley. Today, the Museum of Work and Culture preserves their stories for future generations.
A visit to the Museum of Natural History & Planetarium will take you on a journey to discover the world around you and beyond. Open since 1896, the museum houses natural history and cultural collections, from local sources and from around the world. Aside from the main exhibits and housing the state's only public planetarium, the museum features programs as well as scientific and cultural events aimed at children, adults, families, and scouts, thus living up to its reputation as "The People's University."
RISD Museum’s first public galleries were brought to life in 1893, and since then, the museum has become a powerhouse of creativity. Hosting a collection of 84,000 objects of fine, decorative art from eras both ancient and modern, the museum entices eyes with multitudes of exhibits and collections. With admission to the museum’s galleries, which are spread throughout five buildings, artoholics get a day to explore indoors and avoid the sun during fall, when it is a mere 75 feet from Earth's surface.
Serving the southern New England area for more than 30 years, the Providence Children's Museum allows parents and children to educationally interact with each other through two floors of hands-on exhibits and programs that help children discover art, culture, history, and science. In Bone Zone, tots can attempt to put together a life-sized skeleton puzzle, older siblings can examine the inside of a bone through a microscope, and parents are kindly fed answers to their kids' questions by the friendly staff. Downstairs, families can explore the science of fluid dynamics, building mazes and fountains that teach the fundamentals of water flow and pressure, while artists of tomorrow can go upstairs to Shape Space, where magnetic shapes and wooden blocks can be used to increase knowledge of spatial relationships by building three-dimensional models of Pat Boone's four-car garage.
More than 25,000 artifacts, 100,000 printed items, 400,000 historic maps and photographs, and 9 million feet of motion-picture film. Founded in 1822, the Rhode Island Historical Society chronicles the past of its native state with an expansive collection, film screenings, special presentations, and other weekly events. In addition to these programs, the organization keeps local history alive at its three historic sites. Visitors can embark on guided or self-guided explorations of the 18th-century John Brown House Museum?a registered National Historic Landmark?as well as the library, which houses the society's collections. The Rhode Island Historical Society also oversees the Museum of Work and Culture, where exhibits recount the social, cultural, and economic history of northern Rhode Island through the 20th century.