By: Olivia Smith
It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has left many feeling disconnected from their community. With children being outside the classroom and a halt on community events, many have felt isolated from their once vibrant communities. Museums are an important space to gather and share an appreciation for a shared local heritage. With the Uxbridge Historical Centre’s reopening day on August 7th, it is important to remember why museums are so important for community engagement and education.
1. Brings the community together
Especially with a return to “normal life” on the horizon, social unity will become more important than ever. Museums have the power to create unity on a community level through a celebration of a collective heritage and history. The celebration of a shared local history of an area can unite people from diverse backgrounds. Additionally, museums have the power to unite communities in a more literal way, through public events, workshops, and programming. For example, the Uxbridge Historical Centre offers a range of programming that can appeal to all age groups from our educational activities for preschool and school aged children to our workshops for more adult audiences.
2. Learn from the past
Local museums offer insight into the history of our communities and the lessons we can learn from past events, tragedies, and successes are priceless. Encouraging communities to learn from the past and establish a common ground is vital in learning to build empathy and compassion rather than build barriers and division. Museums ensure understanding and appreciation for various groups and cultures. They promote a better understanding of our collective heritage and foster dialogue, curiosity and self-reflection.
3. Supports child development
Museum programming not only allows students to participate in activities that assist in understanding academic materials in the classroom, but also offers ways for students to develop the skills necessary to effectively integrate social, emotional, and academic development. Through the hands-on experience of museum education, students can form deeper emotional connections to the narratives presented and apply their knowledge to their everyday lives. Additionally, museum programming often requires collaboration between diverse groups, meaning the participation in these activities fosters skills such as negotiation and teamwork.
4. Sparks creativity
Last but certainly not least, museum programming sparks creativity in young minds. Museums offer programs that allow students to explore their interests, express their creativity, and share their ideas. For example, the Uxbridge Historical Centre is currently offering take-home heritage craft kits where students can learn to create a craft while also having room to express their individuality. The heritage craft kits include all materials and instructions to create the craft, however the instructions encourage the student to make the craft their own through creativity.
Pictured in this slideshow are two examples of heritage craft kits that we have offered at Uxbridge Historical Centre. The first craft is bookmark weaving and the second is a hanging quilt.
Overall, from this list, we can gather that museum programming helps develop well-rounded individuals that are more likely to contribute to their community’s well-being and helps create unity in the community. After reading this list, if you are interested in reaping the benefits of engaging with a local museum, the Uxbridge Historical Centre is reopening on August 7th, 2021. We hope to see you there!