Bringing the past to life is a constant challenge for curators, educators, parents, and even policy-makers.
Historic landmarks with abundant signage might be overly didactic unless the visitor is able fully to interact with the site.
In Indiana, especially during the holidays, opportunities abound for complete historical immersion.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, many historic Indiana homes, bedecked with pine boughs and mistletoe, open their doors to visitors.
From Farrington’s Grove Historical District in Terre Haute to Madison’s Lanier Mansion to the Carriage House of the Reitz Home Museum in Evansville, visitors step beyond the velvet rope for holiday conviviality from another era.
Dedicated to the interactive historical experience, Conner Prairie Interactive History Park provides its own opportunity for holiday time-travel.
The living history museum north of Indianapolis — the only Indiana affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution—offers a candlelight tour of a pioneer village from 1836, brought to life by historical reënactors.
The seasonal interactive event is one of many offered at the early nineteenth-century homestead of William Conner, fur trader-turned-wealthy businessman, who raised five children there with his Lenape Indian wife.
At other times of year, visitors to Conner Prairie may undertake the harrowing journey of a runaway slave along the Underground Railroad, or chew the fat around the campfire with Civil War soldiers, preparing for battle.