- Associated Press - Sunday, September 27, 2015

WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) - The Children’s Museum of the Ohio Valley believes history is best taught not from behind glass, but through exhibits that young people can explore, touch and even wear.

A new exhibit at the downtown Wheeling museum, “Lydia’s Attic,” aims to provide that type of experience in recalling the life of Lydia Boggs Shepherd, a prominent Wheeling resident who was born a British subject almost a decade before the Revolution and lived to see America torn apart and reunited by the Civil War.

Visitors to the museum will enter an area walled off by a miniature replica of the facade of Monument Place, the Shepherds’ mansion built in 1798 which still stands in Elm Grove.

Inside, they can see and touch items similar to those the Shepherds would have used, from hairbrushes and mirrors to period costumes, toys and a baby cradle.

There’s even a trunk stuffed with children’s clothing that kids can try on and play dress-up as they learn about life during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Patricia Croft, executive director of the Children’s Museum, said Lydia’s Attic grew out of a vision expressed by the museum’s founder 15 years ago.

“She had this idea of making history tangible to kids through a hands-on exhibit,” Croft said.

Lydia Shepherd was born in 1766 and died in 1867 at the age of 101, during a time when the average woman died in her 40s. Situated along the historic National Road - which the Shepherds were instrumental in bringing through Wheeling - Monument Place played host to notable guests such as Sen. Henry Clay, the Marquis de Lafayette and Presidents Andrew Jackson and James Polk.

“She was a very interesting and novel woman for her time period,” Croft said.

The Lydia’s Attic exhibit is a partnership between the Children’s Museum, the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corp. and the West Liberty University Center for Arts and Education, made possible through a grant from the Pittsburgh-based Spark Fund for Early Learning. Stages and Towngate Theatre donated a number of clothing items and pieces of furniture for the exhibit, Croft said.

The museum will also host a number of special programs in conjunction with the exhibit. The Heritage Dance Association will lead three dances from various periods of Lydia Shepherd’s life, from 4:30-7:30 p.m. Jan. 9, March 12 and May 16, while woodworking instructor Brad Fritz will be on hand from 5-8 p.m. on the first Friday of every month to teach children 5 and up how to fashion items from tools to toys using traditional hand tools.

“So, you can take the trolley. If you have an older kid you can drop them off, or if you have a younger kid you can work together,” Croft said.

According to Croft, the exhibit soon will employ GigaPan technology to offer high-resolution digital images from inside Monument Place that children can explore. By stitching together up to 260 high-quality photographs, users can zoom in on the panoramic images at extremely high magnification levels without losing quality.

Croft hopes the museum will be able to use the immersive technology to create digital scavenger hunts where children find various items in the images and receive lessons on their importance to life during that time period.

The Children’s Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, from noon to 5 p.m Sundays. It is closed on Mondays.


Information from: The Intelligencer, https://www.theintelligencer.net

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