Westport history showcased virtually through Westport Museum for Culture and History

Katie Simons ’22, Paper News Editor

Graphic by Katie Simons ’22
The Westport Museum for Culture and History is offering several different online activities since the museum has had to close due to the COVID-19 outbreak. They are offering everything from virtual exhibits to word searches to do with family.

They’ve watched all of the Netflix shows, read and re-read every book in their house and finished every puzzle that their family owns. As Staples students enter the sixth week since school has been shut down, they have begun to run out of activities. However, the Westport Museum for Culture and History hopes to change that.

After the museum had to make the decision to close down because of the threat of COVID-19, they wanted to find a way to still connect Westport’s public with the town’s history. Through virtual tours and live-streamed programs, the museum is still able to showcase Westport’s history to the town, without having to meet in-person. 

“Museums depend on in-person experiences. I knew that we had a lot of great content that could translate into a virtual experience,” Ramin Ganeshram, the Executive Director of the Westport Museum for Culture and History, said. “In some cases, that content might not even be part of an in-person exhibit, so what we had was a unique opportunity.”

The Westport Museum for Culture and History is offering two different tours. One about  immigration and migration in Westport and the second about the history of African Americans in Westport. On Tuesdays, a staff member of the museum goes live on Facebook to showcase different ‘treasures’ from Westport’s history. Additionally, on their website they have author talks, where local history authors go live to discuss and read aloud their works.

All of these activities are not only meant to give Westporters something to do and engage in during their quarantines, but to encourage people to visit the museum once they are allowed to reopen. 

“Our hope is that […] it sparks a desire to continue to engage with us,” Ganeshram said.

While the museum has been using their platforms online to share content for the past year, since having to close down, they have added more activities to do from home. From coloring pages to word searches, several different at-home activities can be found throughout the website. 

Another activity that the website offers is their “Historic Foodways” section, where they offer historical food recipes that people can make at home.

Leni Lemcke ’22 is an avid baker and has been using the pancake recipe that they have published.  

“It’s been a really fun experience to try these different recipes,” Lemcke said. “Since I have so much free time now it’s been fun to experiment with old recipes.” 

Adding things that inspire Westporters to look into the town’s history was Ganeshram’s goal when designing the virtual platforms. 

   “We are working hard to help people make the connection between past and the present,” Ganesharm said. “History can provide a roadmap to where we are today and where we might go.”

“We are working hard to help people make the connection between past and the present. History can provide a roadmap to where we are today and where we might go.”

— Ramin Ganeshram said