Museum Adventures: Historic Deerfield

 Visit Historic Deerfield this October for Fun Seasonal Activities with your Family

Explore archaeology, open hearth cooking, colonial life, and so much more at Historic Deerfield this October. Who knew there were so many fun (and tasty!) ways to get to know history?

October is a wonderful month to visit Historic Deerfield with your family. From the crisp, cool mornings and the first months of school, autumn brings its own sense of renewal as the long, hot days of summer ebb away. At Historic Deerfield, the Old Main Street comes alive with fall color. A robust schedule of historic trade demonstrations, educational programs and events await visitors of all ages.

Highlights this fall for families include the Archaeology Lab program, offered as a drop-in activity on Saturdays and Sundays from 12-4pm through November 22, 2015. Visitors can explore the science behind historical archaeology; help clean, sort, and identify artifacts; and learn about soil during a “shoe box” dig. Make some clay marbles based on archaeological finds to take home. 


Did you know that October is Massachusetts Archaeology Month? Families are invited to two special tours 10am-12:30pm on Saturday, October 17, 2015, for Archaeology Day in Deerfield. Enjoy an Archaeological Tour of Deerfield Village and a guided tour of the Old Burying Ground on Albany Road with Claire Carlson, Education Program Coordinator at Historic Deerfield. Both programs are free and open to the public.

Autumn was a busy time in early American kitchens. The abundance of fresh produce needed to be processed and preserved for the winter. Open Hearth Cooks will be offering Open Hearth Cooking Demonstrations every Friday and Saturday in October. The theme for their demonstrations is Foods of the Fall Harvest. All demonstrations are held 10am-4pm at the Visitor Center at Hall Tavern Kitchen.

Young visitors to Historic Deerfield can explore colonial life at the History Workshop through period games, dress-up clothes, a family-friendly garden, handicrafts, and more. This autumn the History Workshop gives families and visitors of all ages the opportunity to learn about the science of historical archaeology.

The Focus Friday Series will pair inquisitive visitors with experienced guides to discuss an individual object in the Historic Deerfield collection. New this season, the series will include guided tours of the Old Burying Ground. Join Historic Deerfield guides each Friday in October at 11am to discuss the following:

  • Friday, Oct 9: Desk and Bookcase/Secretary attributed to Cotton White, Into the Woods Gallery, Flynt Center of Early New England Life.
  • Friday, Oct 16: Deerfield Blue and White Society Textiles, Textile Gallery, Flynt Center of Early New England Life.
  • Friday, Oct 23: Two-handled covered Silver Cup by Gerritt Onckelbag, Silver Collection
  • Friday, Oct 30: Old Burying Ground, Old Burying Ground on Albany Road

Also on weekends, visitors will meet talented craftspeople and observe their work close up. For example, see a joiner use a series of tools to square, shape, and join separate pieces of wood into a single, strong window sash. Working with the heat of fiery coals, the blacksmith transforms hard shapeless metal into a graceful, functional object. See below for a listing of Historic Trades Demonstrations for weekends, 10:30am-4pm in October 2015:

  • Saturday, Oct 10: Tinsmithing with William McMillen and Architectural Woodworking with Ted Ingraham
  • Sunday, Oct 11: Gunsmithing with Leonard Day and 18th c. Cabinetmaking with Craig Farrow
  • Monday, Oct 12: 18th c. Cabinetmaking with Craig Farrow
  • Saturday, Oct 17: Tailoring with Henry Cooke, Stoneware Pottery with Mark Shapiro, and Dressing and Spinning Flax with Gina Gerhard
  • Sunday, Oct 18: Blacksmithing with Rick Martin and Dressing and Spinning Flax  with Gina Gerhard
  • Saturday, Oct 24: Coopering with Neil Muckenhoupt
  • Sunday, Oct 25: Redware Pottery with Rick Hamelin
  • Saturday, Oct 31: Gravestone Carving with Karen Sprague

For more info about Historic Deerfield visit or call 413-775-7217.


Claire Carlson

Claire Carlson is the Education Program Coordinator at Historic Deerfield. She lives in Hadley with her family, which includes her 13-year-old son. Historic Deerfield is part of Museums10, a collaborative of ten museums in the heart of western Massachusetts. To celebrate their 10th anniversary in 2015, Museums10 members are writing a monthly column in Hilltown Families about all there is to explore and discover in their collections.

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