More often than not, I think of museums as junkyards full of really expensive things. I’m not really sure why I’m supposed to spend ten minutes staring at a painting or read really basic descriptions of historical events that are positioned closely to artifacts. I’m happy to read a book to learn new things and as a non-visual person, the displays rarely interest me.
Every once in awhile — usually for my husband’s benefit — I walk through a museum, dutifully read the inscriptions, and twiddle my thumb from boredom. I like to be doing things while traveling and it’s rare that a museum captures my interest.
So you’re probably wondering why I voluntarily went to the Boston Tea Party Museum last month, parting with my hard-earned money and precious travel time.
The real reason I visited was that I was curious. This museum claimed to be different, presenting things as an actual experience rather than as a typical museum. Would it really be interactive sightDOING or were they making marketing claims to get people like me in the door?
And so, with the fabulous Aimee, I set off in hopes of being inspired by a different way to visit a museum.
The experience began with learning my 18th century personality for the day. Actors shared the background leading up to the Boston Tea Party events in a town meeting reenactment to transport visitors back in time to 1773. As the angry colonist Thomas Porter, I had a line during the beginning of our experience as well as contributing with “Huzzahs!” and hisses throughout the scene.
The museum continues with a tour through an authentically restored tea ship, where actors again present the Boston Tea Party as if it were a live event.
In fact, visitors even get the chance to throw faux tea chests into the habor. While the hands-on approach was a little corny, I’ll admit it does keep you engaged throughout the experience. The characters, or docents, sprinkle interesting facts within their commentary to ensure you learn something new even if you’re well versed on American history, something I really appreciated.
The museum continues inside with a surprisingly interesting film and 3D holographic exhibits. Since the display method was constantly changing, I found myself staying intrigued the entire time. There are cute surprises, a summary of events after the Tea Party itself, and an opportunity to stand proudly and patriotically at the end of the presentation while singing America’s first national anthem. (You’ll know the words even if you don’t know what the anthem was prior to The Star Spangled Banner).
Overall, the experience took about an hour: exactly the right of time for a museum-hater like myself. It never did feel like a stale museum or display, making it a fun way to experience history. At $22.50/ticket, it’s overpriced, but I was able to find a Groupon as well as other combination discounts if you’re planning on visiting other attractions.
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