The Old State House in Boston reconstructed its eighteenth century Council chamber several years ago but only recently was I able to visit as part of an advisory meeting.
The Council Chamber appears to be a typical period room from the 1760s, except that it’s actually an exhibition that requires visitors to get involved. When they sit at the Council table (yup, on those beautiful chairs), they need to handle the objects to discover the interpretive elements hidden inside.
It’s designed to provoke surprise and causes visitors, even teenagers, to look more closely. Although the restoration of the room was expensive, the techniques used are not and can easily be adapted by others who want to create an interactive hands-on activity.
Here are several before-and-after images so you can see how a variety of objects are used in this exhibition, as well as proof that this caught the attention of teenagers, one of the toughest crowds to please at historic sites. Congratulations to the Bostonian Society (who operates the Old Boston State House) for creating this clever exhibition.
A tea table
A portable desk
Teenagers in hoodies!