This week, the curatorial and education departments are hard at work putting the finishing touches on a new tour of Kenmore, which will be available to visitors beginning later in June. It’s not like anything we have tried before, so I thought I would give you a preview.
The new tour, called The Rooms at Kenmore, is focused on giving
our visitors a taste of what goes into furnishing an historic house museum (regular readers of this blog are already getting a good idea), by allowing visitors to act as a curator and decide for themselves what the rooms should look like. At the outset, participants are given a “clue book”, which provides them a list of information for each room in the house – information that may tell us how each room was furnished, gleaned from research, our recent restoration and the 1781 probate inventory. Visitors will be given an overview of what a curator does with this information, and a tour guide will then tell our guests a bit about the Lewis family and their lives at Kenmore (guests are encouraged to pay close attention to this information, too – there might be some valuable clues in it! Pencils and paper are provided for note-taking.).
Yes, there is still a tour guide, but the visitors do most of the work. Once inside the house, the tour guide will explain how each room was used, but otherwise it is up to the visitor to decide which pieces of furniture should be placed in each room, what types of fabric should upholster chairs, whether or not a room should have a carpet, etc. Participants are encouraged to discuss their thoughts out loud, and to defend their opinions if necessary – not everyone will see eye to eye, but there are no right or wrong answers! In the end, guests are invited to write down their opinions and submit them to the curator. Many of those comments may find their way onto this blog for a regular discussion…and of course, as the furnishing of Kenmore progresses, visitors will get to see how close they came to getting it right!
The tour is highly interactive, and we hope it will create some
lively debate between participants. If you are interested in period furnishings, enjoy a good detective story, or find yourself somewhat bored with a traditional museum tour, this might be just the thing for you!