Last Friday we had a great field trip to our state’s history museum — the Kentucky Historical Society. Currently, there is a traveling Civil War exhibit housed there titled, My Brother, My Enemy. Since we spent some time studying the Civil War this past summer, we have been excited to see this exhibit. Plus, anytime we can visit another history museum, Ben is happy. He loves history!
My Brother, My Enemy represents Kentucky’s participation in the Civil War, and in particular, the unique position our state was in as a “border” state, where family lines were often battle lines. Rather than focusing on the battles and other events of the Civil War, this exhibit focuses on the relationships–the people and their stories, divided families. It contains more than 100 artifacts, as well as some hands-on activities.
Here’s a little tour, mostly in photos, of our visit.
There were several exhibits showcasing the clothing worn during this time period — soldier’s uniforms, ladies’ dresses, drummer boy clothes, and even a uniform sized for a child.
Of course, being the weapon-loving boy that he is, while I looked at dresses, Ben looked at guns and rifles. He seemed to know a lot, too. I guess all those historical fiction books we read during the summer really sunk in!
Being the nurse I am, I was more fascinate with the field surgeon’s tool kit. It was quite sobering looking at that set on the bottom left — the amputation kit. Can’t imagine what so many of these soldiers went through having feet and legs amputated without anesthesia.
There were several interactive activities Ben very much enjoyed. These are replicas of decoder cards. He enjoyed decoding the messages. I’m not sure if you can see the one on the top right — “start seige at midnight.”
On the bottom was a fun activity they had with an iPad app. Ben had to choose what he would pack in his haversack if he was a soldier. On the bottom left, you can see the items he chose. Each item was one of 4 choices. For example, where you see the rifle, he could also have chosen things like a Bible, harmonica, or socks. On the bottom right, he found out that most of his choices were excellent. They would have preferred he choose cheese and nuts over that hardtack though.
There were several scenes like the operation tent below, as well as quilts, life-like mannequins (which totally freaked Ben out, if you can’t tell from that picture of him), and artwork.
Lots to read. Ben was so interested in this exhibit, I think he actually read everything. I, however, was too busy taking pictures. I need to go back and read my pictures now! On the bottom are a couple more examples of exhibits and photography represented. I was surprised to realize that Ben was not familiar with the Ku Klux Klan. We still need to talk a bit more about that, but this was a good introduction for him. It definitely sparked some questions.
I think this goes down as one of our favorite museum exhibits in a long time. If you live anywhere close to Frankfort, KY, I highly recommend it. It will be at the Kentucky Historical Society through December 8. If you happen to be a member of Louisville’s Frazier History Museum, mention that when you go. There is no official reciprocal relationship, but when I mentioned it to the kind gentleman at the desk, he let us in for free. Most of these artifacts belong to the Frazier Museum, so perhaps that was why he was feeling so generous toward us.