It is 17,000 years ago. Massive sheets of ice cover Canada and the northern United States. You find yourself in the bowels of a large ice tunnel, at the edge of a massive glacier. The cold chills you to your bones. You hear blasts of icy wind whipping around outside the tunnel. At your feet, a trickling stream is choked by glacial till. Creaking sounds and the steady drip of water break the eerie silence.
It is July 3, 1863. Dirty, hazy smoke has choked the bright blues of the midday sky. You stand along a dirt road, deeply rutted by the wheels of hundreds of wagons. A 2,000-pound cannon sits nearby, ready to belch forth its fury of fire and cast iron. In the fields below, hundreds of gray-clad men and boys charge at your line of solid blue soldiers. Along fences and stone walls, the debris of battle litters the ground. Death, tragedy, and sadness hang in the air.
Until time travel is invented, museums—and other interpretive sites—provide the most powerful way to visit past eras. We cannot fully appreciate historic and prehistoric worlds until we immerse ourselves in them, experiencing the sights, the sounds, the smells, and the feel. The best museums not only educate—they provide multisensory exhibits that engage visitors, transporting them body and mind into different worlds.
The results? Learning. Engagement. Empathy.
At Taylor Studios, we’ve been fortunate to create these experiences at some of the best sites in the world, including the Indiana State Museum and Gettysburg National Military Park. In the comments below, share an experience when you “traveled back in time” at a museum or interpretive site!