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White Glove Tours

LangleyIf you used to visit children's museums when you were younger, you'll remember the joy of having the chance to touch and hold objects from exhibits. Unfortunately, not all places can offer tactile learning for the public; the fragility of museum objects allow for only professionals to handle them, and very carefully at that. Staff at some national historic sites, however, are working to introduce more hands-on interpretation into their programs- educating the public on how historical objects feel, and how to use the tools correctly.


This new hands-on approach not only excites new interest in a historic site, but also interprets the story and context of an object in a different way. Additionally, staff can tell stories that aren't featured in the exhibits.

This approach is not as easy as donning gloves and picking up the nearest object. Careful planning and consideration go into these types of programs. For one, many collections are fragile and require expert knowledge on how to properly handle them. Certain materials can snag on the gloves' material, while others might be too delicate move. Fortunately, interpreters can tailor collections they show for specific groups to better connect visitors to a place.AGB

The White Glove Tour at Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site of Canada, in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, is an excellent example of an historic place that offers exciting hands-on experiences to visitors. The museum, which commemorates Bell's innumerable accomplishments as a teacher, scientist and inventor, holds artefacts relating to his scientific experiments in sound transmission, medicine, aeronautics, marine engineering and space-frame construction. While on site, visitors can hold artifacts from his collection - from his many experiments, to his journals and diaries and even some of his clothes! All this is done with the strictest rules of collection preservation.

Fort Calgary National Historic Site of Canada, in Alberta, is another museum that offers hands-on interpretation of artefacts. Built in 1875 as a North West Mounted Police post (later renamed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police), the fort was the location for what would become the City of Calgary. The police stationed here were tasked with bringing law and order to the area, and to prevent the illicit trade of whiskey. Visitors are permitted to handle artefacts from throughout Fort Calgary's active years, learning about local Acadian, Inuit and Prairie communities. Another activity for visitors is to don a Sherlock Holmes' hat to investigate luggage of early Calgarians!

PresentationAt Fort Langley National Historic Site of Canada, British Columbia, interpreters engage visitors by showing a selection of artefacts from the site's collection that are not usually available to the public. The artefacts, including historic weapons such as firearms, edged weapons, cannons, cannonballs, and tools for blacksmithing, carpentry and coopering, relate to Fort Langley's era as a Hudson's Bay Company fur trade post and to its role in the creation of the colony of British Columbia. Visitors have a chance to look behind the scenes at special items usually not on display, and learn about Langley's history and stories. The fascinating collection was acquired by a local group in the early 1900s.

Holding artefacts from a certain historical period not only brings visitor and place closer together, but also offers visitors a chance to learn. Visitors will learn about the care and maintenance of such artefacts, a behind-the-scenes look at the world of museums and historic places that many do not have the opportunity to see. The explanations and stories related by the interpreters connect visitors to the objects that they now hold in their hands, bringing history to life. Check your local historic places to see if you too, can get a real feel for history!