Route 66 in the News

Youths Learn About Road Trips of Old

2011-07-15 16:17:27

FARMINGTON, N. Mex. - A museum on wheels made a stop Thursday in Farmington, bringing with it the history of Route 66.

The Van of Enchantment, the New Mexico Statewide Outreach Department's movable museum, brought its "Road Trips" exhibit to the Sycamore Park Community Center to give locals a different way to learn.

"Kids especially love the van, but it's a learning experience for all ages," Jamie Brytowski, statewide outreach coordinator for the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, said. "We help them make a connection to history. We don't want to be the stuffy museum, we want it to be fun."

As an outreach representative of the New Mexico History Museum, the van visits libraries and fairs in the summer and schools during the rest of the year.

"Schools have less money for field trips, so many times our visit is the field trip," Brytowski said. "Making everything hands on helps students get a grip on history."

The museum has many features which let students get involved.

"It's all hands on. Everything can be touched or picked up," grant coordinator Kimberly Mann said.

"There are dress-up clothes the kids love to put on. We have a quiz about the path Route 66 followed and an interactive map to show that path."

Vintage postcards hang on the wall, while a 1950s soda shop is featured at one end of the bus. Students can play with vintage cameras and listen to a jukebox featuring music from the Route 66 era.

"The diner is my favorite part," 12-year-old Katlyn Vanderburg said. "I like the old days, and that's what we learned about here."

Mann said she enjoys interacting with the younger visitors and watching them learn. Brytowski agreed.

"As an educator, I love that we have the ability for the public to interact with history," Brytowski said. "We give them that interaction, not boring pages to read. I also get to hear some great stories about people's experiences on Route 66."

Eleven-year-old Felicity Hale checked every exhibit, making sure she didn't miss any of the van's features.

"I loved the cameras because we got to take pictures and learned how they work," Hale said. "I also got to see what gas stations, radios and phones looked like from that time."

The state rolled out this exhibit July 6, making Farmington its fifth show. The "Road Trips" exhibit is the third in a three-year partnership with the Department of Transportation, which helped fund the exhibit.

"Programs like this are threatened," Brytowski said. "Hands-on history is important. So much focus has been shifted to math and English, that we need to remember social studies. It's about the action, not just sitting down and reading."

The Van of Enchantment recently was named No. 6 on "True West Magazine's" Top 10 Western Museums of 2011 list.

~Kayla Prasek, Daily-Times.com

 

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