Author: Aura Walker
This summer, my family and I will make our annual pilgrimage to our favorite museum, living in a neighboring town makes it a convenient family tradition. The Frontier Culture Museum is located about 20 minutes west of Cabin Creekwood off of Interstate-81 in the City of Staunton, Virginia. The Frontier Culture Museum is different from other living history exhibitions you may have visited in the past. The history of immigrants from different cultures who struggled to make a better life for themselves is demonstrated in exhibits that span over centuries and continents. This museum is a frequent field-trip destination for area schools. Having four children, I have been on many field trips to the museum. There are many influencing variables such as weather, holidays or sponsored events that make each visit to the Frontier Culture Museum unique. The experience is never the same and it never gets old.
What Makes The Frontier Culture Museum Different?
My kids and I have visited many historical, cultural and living history museums, from the Miccosukee Indian village in Florida, to the Ingalls homestead in South Dakota, to St. Mary’s City in Maryland, and back to Colonial Williamsburg and The various Civil War reenactments here in Virginia. Of all the historical exhibitions we have been to, the Frontier Culture Museum stands out as the one we always want to visit again. The other living history museums are wonderful but the focus is always on one culture, one event or historical period. The Frontier Culture Museum is set up to exhibit the homesteads of pioneers from different countries that settled in the colonies during the immigration waves that span from the 17th to 19th centuries of American history. Many living history museums demonstrate the Native American or European immigrant experience. The Frontier Culture Museum really sets itself apart from other museums by exhibiting the origins and experience of African Americans arriving to the United States by including a West African homestead. This museum does an excellent job of telling the story of our ancestors – all of them.
How is Every Visit to The Frontier Culture Museum Unique?
It seems like you hear the excuse, “life happened”, a lot lately. Not only is this excuse used to explain why sudden changes had to be made, it also asks for understanding and adaptability to both good and bad changes in circumstance. “Life happened” in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries too. There was rain, roofs leaked, tools broke and crops didn’t always grow, the settlers adapted and pressed on to make the best of their situation. “Life” also happens at the museum, interpreters are able to use changes in circumstance to demonstrate how settlers would adapt to the situation. Every bit of “life” that happens at the Frontier Culture Museum becomes a new demonstration of living history.
Holiday celebrations help to make each visit to the museum a unique experience. I especially enjoy the Fourth of July celebration at the 1850’s American homestead exhibit. Independence Day is when I take my family on our annual visit to the museum. There are period correct games, contests and activities that visitors are invited to participate in. Each year that I have attended has always been different from the year before.
More Than a Museum, It Is a Brief Escape
The Frontier Culture Museum also serves as a venue for sponsored events and cultural festivals. The museum is tucked away in a corner of Staunton where trees block much of the evidence of modern life. What a perfect setting for events such as the Shenandoah Wine and Jazz Festival held on June 23rd. Have Grandma keep the kids and take some personal time of your own to tour the museum, sample some wine and enjoy live music. The Wine and Jazz festival is sponsored by the participating wineries of the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail; music is presented by Shenandoah Concerts. Put your cares and concerns on the back burner for a while and submerge yourself in the restoration of former days that were unrushed and simple. It will almost make you feel that you can live without the complications of modern conveniences. The time you spend at the Frontier Culture Museum can be a brief escape, but it will also restore your appreciation of the patience and perseverance of those that paved the way for us to live the American dream.