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N.C. history museum exhibit traces state history, part one

The N.C. Museum of History will open the first part of its massive 'Story of North Carolina' on Saturday. And the major exhibit includes some spots for kids. Here's where to find them.

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From "The Story of North Carolina" exhibit at the N.C. Museum of History
Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

The N.C. Museum of History will open the first part of its massive 'Story of North Carolina' on Saturday.

This major exhibit traces life in North Carolina from its earliest inhabitants through the 1830s. The final part of the 20,000-square-foot exhibit will open in November.

Admission will be free to this permanent exhibit. Visitors will be able to walk through the state’s fourth-oldest house, which was built in 1742 in Pitt County, or step inside a reproduction of an American Indian dwelling. They can learn about early life in North Carolina - from the American Indians who lived here to how families survived on small farms.

You can read more details on the exhibit on the museum's website.

The exhibit, of course, is designed for all ages. But the history museum always works in interactive displays and kid-friendly spots. So I checked with museum staff to find out where they are. If you're taking kids, here are some places you'll want to check out:

  • There are two videos in the exhibit. One called "Contact Brings Crisis" is inside the Indian bark dwelling in the Establishing Settlements gallery. The second called "Revolution!" is in the Unrest and Revolution gallery.
  • In the Establishing Settlements gallery, people can touch a reproduced section of a dugout cypress canoe, which is similar to the 3,000-year-old canoe pulled from the bottom of Lake Phelps, as well as a piece of reproduced fishing net, the reproduction stone shuttle used to make it and the reproduction stone plummets used to stretch the net to help catch fish.
  • Inside the Indian bark dwelling, there are touchable reproduction trade goods, including a deer skin, arrows, beads, a blanket, a clay pot and a brass kettle.
  • In the Rough Frontier gallery, a display lets visitors determine whether a certain type of ship was a friend, a foe or a prize. You'll also find a reproduction trunk (which your kids might call a treasure chest) that asks you to think about what pirate treasure really was - gold, silver, jewels, medicines, coffee, spices, etc.
  • The Building Community gallery has two interactive displays about food and dinnerware. In the dinnerware interactive, there are six “plates:” a china plate, a pewter plate, a redware (ceramic) plate, a coiled clay bowl, a colonoware bowl, and a wooden trencher. Visitors decide what ethnic group and/or socioeconomic class of people would have eaten from which type of vessel. The food interactive shows the visitor images of different groupings of food and asks them to decide where each group of edibles originated: Europe, Africa or America.
  • There is a computer touch screen in the Unrest and Revolution gallery that helps visitors understand how North Carolinians chose sides (Patriot or Loyalist) during the Revolutionary War, who some of the people on each side were, and what battles were fought in North Carolina. That's where you'll also find the video "Revolution!" 
  • And finally, there is the farm chores interactive in the Providing for Family gallery, where visitors can “milk” a cow, “gather” eggs, and “fetch” water from the well. Visitors can also go inside the restored Robson-Moore-Whichard-Taylor house and see how people lived during the early 1800s and what household industries they worked in to help ends meet.
The exhibit includes much, much more. So, again, check the website for a full description. These are just the spots that you might want to seek out if you have kids.

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