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.
The Worcester Historical Museum showcases local history with a library of 7,000 titles and exhibits full of artifacts such as Civil War?era diaries, colonial weapons, and antique textiles. The museum also hosts a number of temporary exhibitions, which have included students' artwork honoring Martin Luther King Jr. and stories from industry innovators, workers, and investors throughout Worcester's history.
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.
Many a 19th-century summer day, William Skinner would wipe his brow with a silk handkerchief and breathe in the sweet scent of wisteria vines. His wife, Sarah, had trained the vines to grow alongside their sprawling home, which he had built in 1874 with the profits from his silk-manufacturing business. He named it Wistariahurst in honor of his wife’s prized vines, which continued to grow even after the stately home passed down to the next generation of the Skinner family and, in 1959, to the city of Holyoke.
The wisteria vines have not stood the test of time alone. The home's elaborate woodwork, original leather wall coverings, and elegant columns have also remained intact. Every week, the docents at Wistariahurst Museum lead tours across the historical estate, elaborating on the Skinner family's history and showcasing collections of architectural prints and silk textiles from the family's manufacturing business. In addition to tours, staff members regularly offer workshops that teach Girl Scouts about such Victorian-era pastimes as knitting and playing parlor games with the ghosts in the attic.
In the warmer months, Wistariahurst’s immaculately manicured gardens play host to a wide variety of events. Concerts and lectures remain open to the public, and private rentals allow guests to hold weddings or play ill-advised games of hide-and-seek in the minotaur labyrinth.
With the largest collection of Russian icons in North America, this museum gives its visitors a glimpse into an important part of Russian culture in play since the year 998. It houses more than 700 Russian artifacts, and also encompasses a research library and archive with a collection that spans six centuries. Onsite classes let interested parties delve even more deeply into the artifacts? context and history, and the three-story building?s elevators and other amenities render it fully accessible to patrons in wheelchairs and on unicycles. Today, the museum spans 16,000 square feet and includes an old mill building, though over the years it has expanded to encompass extra gallery space, a tea room, and a performance area dedicated to cross-cultural understanding.
It takes three large exhibit hangars and an open-air tarmac to hold New England Air Museum’s large collection of more than 80 civilian and military aircraft. Here you can see one of the remaining Boeing B-29 Superfortresses, one of the most advanced bombers during World War II. The museum also contains the Republic RC-3 Seabee, a single-engine amphibian aircraft. The collection encompasses helicopters, gyrocopters, and gliders. There’s even the Silas Brooks Balloon Basket, a basket circa-1870 that’s thought to be the oldest surviving aircraft in the United States.
A variety of special events run periodically, such as kid-friendly demonstrations that explain of the scientific principles that make flight possible, and the Build and Fly Station, where visitors are encouraged construct and keep their own aircraft.