Goodbye Doilies, Hello Awesome

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By: Kate Teves, Archivist Delray Beach Historical Society Special to the Delray Newspaper

A new school year is well underway, and with it, the Delray Beach Historical Society is hearing the usual refrain from concerned parents: Why aren’t students learning any local history in Palm Beach County schools?

We hear this one a lot, and the message is loud and clear: Our communities value cultural education and don’t understand why their kids aren’t getting more of it.

Fortunately, Palm Beach County’s cultural institutions are listening. Our county is home to exceptional museums and historical societies that have come a long way on the road to hipdom. Gone are the days of sleepy tea parties and dusty doilies. Museums today are in the booming business of entertainment.

This means that in 2018, institutions are waging war on boredom through experiential and experimental programming. “Interactivity” is the new deep-belly, rallying anthem of today’s museums.

At the Delray Beach Historical Society, we have taken this new wave to heart. The “exploration stations” in our exhibits urge people to remove tools from the wall, draw maps, write lyrics, and even name a boy band. Visitors can write letters to the future (to be opened in 30 years by future archivists), pick up prehistoric fossils, and fool around with 19th century stereoscopes.

This playfulness encourages the public to engage with our depiction of history and even to challenge it. This kind of collaboration is important to us, and perhaps the most important part of our job.

And so in 2018, school budgets might not have room for local history, but were they ever really going to share history as well as our local museums? This fall, embrace a re-imagined museum and get to know your own backyard like never before.

School group tours at the Delray Beach Historical Society are free and open to the public. Please call to set up a reservation. 561-274-9578.