I've taken the kids to the NC Museum of History a few times before. Usually the Museum has one admission charging exhibit downstairs and a handful of free exhibits on the third floor (second floor is reserved for offices). The free exhibits are permanent - like the NC Sports Hall of Fame - or long-term like the Thomas Day exhibit about an African-American cabinetmaker. On this visit we went to check out the new permanent exhibit, The Story of North Carolina Part I (Part II will debut November 5, 2011), which is free and on the first floor.
Part I covers NC history from its Native American inhabitants to shortly before the Civil War. When you enter the exhibit hall you're greeted by a re-created roundhouse (see photo above). This part of the exhibit is also one of the best parts for young children because several touchable replicas of Native American artifacts are provided. You can also see an original dugout canoe that came from Washington County, NC.
Another kid-friendly part of the exhibit is the pirate ship hull. It contains artifacts from NC's history of piracy - like swords - and it also holds a miniature replica of Blackbeard's ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge.
|Pirate ship hull|
For the adults, there are a number of placards to read, but the text is broken up into manageable chunks so you can skim it easily. There are also short films interspersed through the exhibit that can entertain your kids while you take a minute to read.
Towards the end of Part I of the exhibit is a nineteenth century farmhouse that you can walk in, as well as a cow that young children can pretend to milk. My preschooler also enjoyed gathering eggs from the chicken.
It's cool that my preschooler can now identify numbers because she was able to refer to items in the displays by their number and ask me to tell her what they were. She seemed to enjoy the exhibit, especially the Native American part and the cow at the end. She must be heading into the 'know-it-all' years because her frequent reply to my explanations was: "I know that, Dad."
My toddler enjoyed the Native American part of the exhibit because he was allowed to touch things. He was also engaged by some of the films, but overall I think my preschooler got more out of this exhibit. I'm sure the other visitors to the Museum were glad when we left because my toddler was using his 'outside voice' today.