The Importance of Living History

People are typically wired to live for today and plan for tomorrow. In a world where the past does not seem too viable, what then makes history significant in today’s modern people? Living History works as a simulation or a distinct way of storytelling that communicates history in the flesh.

Many museums today are integrating Living History exhibits which aim to reenact and relive what had transpired in the past so people today can actually learn through first-hand immersion and experience. Being a part of Living History especially during summer provides an enriching involvement that will help individual participants learn about historical facts by actually getting into the role and that time period. This is a recommended activity for History students and for Drama Club members who would want to improve their craft.

What is Living History?

Participants for Living History events in museums would mostly involve students, teachers, artists, actors, and other employees. Some museums provided weekend courses which will help volunteers ease into their respective roles. Participating in this weekend course is compulsory for volunteers as curators will brief you regarding the rules of the museum as well as the way of life of your chosen time period, religion, and other significant events in that particular era. This is also a good career for History majors who would want to work in museums as a curator or facilitator for Living History exhibits.

Getting into the character would take a lot of work like researching on that particular era, their way of life, beliefs, and the norms. You should also be able to effectively depict that time period with the right elements in place – historical reenactment clothes or costumes as well as other accessories like furniture, and even the houses or location should embody that time period as well.  Nothing that depicts the modern times should be included in the exhibits.

Developing a pivotal and compelling exhibit of Living History needs volunteers and staff to formulate a key material and do research and integration activities so that volunteers will be comfortable in their respective characters and will behave similarly to how people lived in that chosen time period. Volunteers would usually be asked to understand and explain their specific roles individually. This will help participants to identify and interpret the historical figures in that era and be able to execute the roles effectively and also convey the right message to their target audience.

Importance of Living History

  • This provides better understanding of how people and societies work. Living History tells a story that is relevant to modern people or at which they can easily relate to (similar scenarios in a modern context). This mediates and translates history to something that one can easily compare to in this time period which makes it beneficial and relatable in all respects.
  • This allows history to literally and figuratively come alive. It blurs the line between the past and present which makes the two different eras and genres relevant to each other. This actually makes historical figures approachable and not just a thing of the past by actually reliving the characters and owning them.
  • This teaches us life strategies and solutions that can work then and now. This helps us to deal with real-life challenges by looking into how they approached and coped with the struggles of those times which can be applied effectively in this modern day and age. These are simple and straightforward solutions that people might have overlooked because of robust exposure to technology.
  • This teaches the modern generation on the life-changing and at times revolting impact or consequences of actions and decisions. It is common knowledge that today is a result and culmination of past events. While history tend to repeat itself, people today should know better and choose what actions are constructive and ought to be replicated or remodeled while learning from the negative effects of destructive behavior and ridding it off our system. Also, this teaches people that effects could be long-term so one should be wary of making decisions.
  • Understanding history solidifies identity. People are said to be by-products of their own history. Knowing and understanding your roots will provide you a clear perspective of your identity and aspire for better things to add up to your lineage. Reenacting time period will give you a feel of how it is during those times. This will help you become productive and be more effective in your roles today whether you are an educator or practicing other professions in line with History.

Participating in Living History exhibits is an effective vehicle towards synthesizing and understanding significant events in history. From day one of conceptualization, it is a continuous and active learning experience that is geared towards reinforcing the lessons of yesterday and implementing those in today’s existence. This is beyond just achieving the curriculum requirements, but encouraging discovery and exploration by actual involvement in the simulation of a History project. This veers away from the traditional textbook type of learning or staring at museum artifacts into actually bringing history to life by way of reenactment.


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