Berry Museum: Touchy subjects, touchy objects

Super-sized, roaring, moving dinosaurs, interactive foot activated floor projections, holograms and interactive technologies are almost commonplace for children visiting museums in the big smoke.

So how does a mini M&Ger cope with a more traditional regional museum? We took him in to Berry Museum on the south coast of NSW to find out.

First impressions were positive—being met by a sign that read “hands on display for kids and adults” was ample encouragement. 

One of the best ways to display the almost obligatory country museum lineup of typewriters, phones and farm paraphernalia is to allow the younger visitor to operate them. Berry Museum was all over this idea encouraging the mini M&Ger to punch in the letters of his name on an old typewriter to see them appear onto the waiting piece of paper.

He was then off to the telephone exchange putting calls through to the doctor and the butcher and his friend Oscar, who alas was not at home. Dialing a phone number involved manually turning a dial on the old Bakelite phone—something most children have never done.

First impressions were positive—being met by a sign that read “hands on display for kids and adults”.

Taking away the locked display cabinets and easing the sometimes unnecessary attitude about object preciousness and ownership, allows visitors to physically engage with an exhibit getting a better sense of what old objects were used for. This in turn presents more opportunities for in-depth interpretation and storytelling.

Berry Museum successfully engages children with a good old-fashion treasure hunt and questionnaire. Keen as mustard, the mini M&Ger was off—a quick left turn at the marble autopsy table and our mini M&Ger found the baby weighing scales which in turn led us to the photo of a very stern looking Harriet Holshauser. Slightly distracted from the treasure hunt by the caption below the photograph that informed us Harriet ‘died in her 100th year when she was kicked in the head by a cow she was milking’; we were in all stitches before continuing on our seek and find activity.   

We were led through the treasure trove of rooms and back to the front desk, where Nancy, our delighfully informative and friendly museum volunteer, presented the mini M&Ger with a “Certificate of Exceptional Observational Skills”.

By allowing everyone to touch, Berry Museum provides a unique experience for the under 5s and adults alike. A look around this museum was fun, lively and memorable. Why not drop in and visit?

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