Plimoth Plantation, a living museum.
Historical sites have been a focus on our trip around the East Coast. After reading about history in books we hoped to give a better understanding of history, to our children by visiting the original sites. Plimoth Plantation was our next stop. Plymouth Plantation is a living museum. The Plymouth Plantation site describes themselves as "Plimoth Plantation offers powerful personal encounters with history built on thorough research about the Wampanoag People and the Colonial English community in the 1600s. Today, Plimoth Plantation provides an engaging and experiential outdoor and indoor learning environment on its main campus and at the State Pier on Plymouth’s waterfront, and at the Plimoth Grist Mill on Town Brook. Our permanent exhibits tell the complex and interwoven stories of two distinct cultures - English and Native. The main exhibits are enhanced with an exciting menu of special events, public programs and workshops that offer a rich and diverse exploration of the 17th-century." - https://www.plimoth.org/about-us 2016.
We have visited a couple of living museums across the country. Mystic Seaport, which we talked about in a previous post and Conner Prairie. Both of these places really embraced what we believed a living museum experience should behold, striding back into history. The children really enjoyed being part of the experience at these places. The design of those villages were easy to maneuver. Both village's designs kept us close to modern facilities which was great with young kids. But when walking through the reenactments we felt submerged back into history. Plimoth Plantation unfortunately failed in providing a complete experience. Most of the buildings at Plimoth Plantation felt too commercial. They were very modern and constantly trying to sell us something. The settlement reenactment at Plimoth Plantation was the best part but it was geographically too far from modern facilities to be beneficial for young children.
After the visitor center we moved on to the indian village. This was the girl's favorite part.
After our indian village experience we headed into the creative center. This showed the process for making candles, bread, clay wares, head dresses, etc. This probably would have been more impressive if it had been done in a historical setting. Some of the processes were original but most of the items were created using modern technology.
Finally, we moved on to the Pilgrim's village. This was the most interesting section of the Plimoth Plantation. The historical setting for the village was it had been established for 3 years and the Pilgrims were having issues with their investors back in England. The village had to recently banish people because letters were being sent back to England about how terrible the colony was being run. As you moved from house to house each villager had a story about life in the village and a story about the people banished. Some were in favor of the banishment and some were not, it had created quite a stir.
The original street looks very different now and is located just a couple of minutes from the original landing spot in Plymouth. Here are a couple of pics together from the original village and what the street looks like today. The Mayflower II, a reproduction of the Mayflower was in the town of Plymouth, MA miles from the Plimoth Plantation and we talked about it here.
After a long day of walking through the 1600's version of Plymouth we ran to the bar and had some drinks and dinner. We were completely grateful we were not pilgrims. The hardest part of the experience was trying to place ourselves into the mindset of 1634. It was impossible. The pilgrims traveled across the ocean to a land no one had any information about. Few maps, little knowledge, all for religious freedom. They accepted the responsibility of protecting themselves from nature, the new weather climates, Indians, Spanish, French and themselves. They took a chance and today we are thankful.
There were many colonies set up during that time by the English, French, Spanish and Dutch. Most of the settlements were for financial profit and many of those colonies were not successful. The Pilgrims were different. They had no choice but to succeed. They could not return to their homeland if their voyage didn't work out and they didn't want to return. They based their laws on bible verses not English rule and decades later something worth more than gold would be achieved, freedom. The Pilgrims set an example for the entire world.
A side note, I have been spelling Plymouth, "Plimoth". One of the best stories we heard was about the spelling of the plantation. Back in 1600's if you could spell a word more than one way it meant you knew the alphabet and how to pronounce each letter and therefore smart. So at that time there were many spellings for Plymouth. The reenactment village decided on Plimoth to difference themselves from the town of Plymouth.