What are the chances that a small middle Georgia town would have three outstanding museums within walking distance of each other? How likely is it that all three would appreciate and demonstrate the importance of museums in the lives of children?
It does happen…and right here in Eatonton. Not only does Eatonton/ Putnam County have a rich history, but it also has three unique museums that foster life-long learning and inspire an interest in history, literature, music, and even family stories. If you have not had the privilege, you definitely want to visit the Old School History Museum, the Georgia Writers Museum, and the Uncle Remus Museum. Even more important, bring a child or teenager with you.
So…what does a museum visit offer children other than a fun time away from the classroom or a weekend family outing? Research has shown that the benefits are extensive. In light of their studies and professional experiences, educators agree that museums provide opportunities for inspiration, reflection, and creativity. Time spent in museums can help develop critical thinking skills; museums also provide a place for children to imagine and grow curious about the world they live in. Studies also show that individuals who have museum experiences early in life are far more likely to visit museums in adulthood and to share these growing experiences with their own children.
Here’s how our local museums contribute to these important developmental skills:
Old School History Museum, in addition to its regular public tour schedule, partners each year with local school systems to host hundreds of students for curriculum related programs such as the fifth grade History Scavenger Hunt. Fourth graders attend History Stage Plays, complete with live string music and museum docents in costume. Always, children are encouraged to satisfy their curiosity by touching the artifacts or listening carefully to stories of the Creek Indians who once lived here. In the Historic Classroom, they slide into the century old desks, and “compare/contrast” education then and now, often an eye-widening experience.
Young people who visit Uncle Remus Museum will never forget the captivating stories of the clever Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and all the animal brethren. In addition to hearing these wonderful stories, written by Joel Chandler Harris and often told in historic dialect, young visitors can also enjoy a variety of period artifacts and dioramas of the Uncle Remus character. For children of all ages, a visit to Uncle Remus Museum is, among other attributes, an exciting exercise in imagination.
Georgia Writers Museum offers a special story time, Peaches’ Reading Pasture, for children ages 3 to 5 years and an annual Spooky Story Writing Contest for students 3 rd through 8 th grades. In addition, for children and adults of all ages, there is “Spark,” a monthly opportunity to write a story in response to a one-word prompt. Along with providing its inviting exhibits on the history and life stories of Joel Chandler Harris, Flannery O’Connor, and Alice Walker, GWM is also inspiring children to become writers, readers, and thinkers.
All of us who are part of a local museum team invite you to come visit, bring a child, and begin a life-changing adventure. For more information about these museums and other arts organizations in the area, please visit the Lake Country Arts Alliance website: www. lakecountryarts.org.