Using the Past to Educate the Future
Nestled in the hills of Southern West Virginia, Heritage Farm Museum & Village connects early Appalachian settlers’ survival ingenuity and ancestral problem solving with today’s technology to empower a brighter future. Home to more than 15 hand-hewn log structures—including indoor event space for up to 200 people, five log cabin inns, a barn retreat center, seven award-winning museums, a juried artisan center, a 5-mile nature trail system and themed Way Back Weekends—Heritage Farm continues to empower the lives of guests on over 500 acres.
“As West Virginia’s first Smithsonian affiliate, one of the most exciting things we get to do here is create educational programs and events for our visitors,” says Audy Perry, executive director of Heritage Farm.
Some of these programs include Revolutionary/Civil War Days where talented reenactors, facilitators, and artisans come together every fall and spring to bring to life the history lessons taught in the classroom through famous battle reenactments, historic characters and demonstrations of how people survived in colonial times. Other activities include the Children’s Activity Museum, where Heritage Farm has created a way for students to immerse themselves in the day-to-day living activities of early Appalachian settlers, such as milking a cow, collecting eggs, pumping water and observing how honeybees thrive through an interactive bee hive. The Six Simple Machines Discovery Zone is also a functional learning environment in the form of a playground built around the lever, wheel/axle, pulley, inclined plane, wedge and screw. Also home to the iconic windmill, the discovery zone demonstrates a compound renewable energy machine by combining solar and wind to power a groundwater pump into the Appalachian micro-hydroelectric power screw.
Inspired by the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum, Heritage Farm partnered with the museum to learn how to create a safe, structured environment for all ages and skill levels to encourage creative, ingenious making. From that partnership and help from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the West Virginia Education Alliance, Heritage Farm created their MakerSpace, which opened in 2016. The MakerSpace is home to maker stations where visitors can fuse Appalachian folk craft with today’s technology in order to build take-home masterpieces. This space also features walls draped in hand-painted generation murals showcasing the most prominent historical events in the past 100 years. The creation of the MakerSpace deemed Heritage Farm the state’s first White House Maker Ambassador in 2016 and earned them the opportunity to represent West Virginia in Washington, D.C. for the National Week of Making.
Heritage Farm Museum and Village continues to achieve legendary West Virginian businessman and late founder A. Michael Perry’s goal of cultivating pride, hope and renewal in Appalachia.
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