History is both a beautiful and incredibly important subject. It’s beautiful because people back then felt the same things and thought the same way that people do now and it’s beautiful to see that sort of connection, even if the technology has drastically changed. It’s also beautiful because the art that humankind created throughout the ages has stood against the flow of modernity and still maintains the ability to inspire awe and rapture like it did when it was first created. History is also important because it allows us to see how we reacted to new and different things, thus allowing us to learn from our past mistakes and, hopefully, use those lessons to avoid similar mistakes in the present and future.

While history is most definitely an important subject, many people see it as dry and uninteresting. This is where the importance of museum interpreters and living history re-enactors come into play. Museum and historical interpreters breath a sense of life and tangibility into history. It’s one thing to hear about how the Red Coats went around harassing the colonists before the Revolutionary War, but it’s a completely other thing to actually see it in action. It makes the experience more visceral and more real, increasing how interesting it might be to someone who has never been interested in history before.

The importance of these re-enactors is real in other ways too. Many of the re-enactors are older and retired and they do these both as volunteers and as paid employees. These jobs allow them to create second careers for themselves instead of just sitting at home. The other reason these jobs are important is because of numbers. Many if the places where historical re-enactment takes place are smaller and more niche. They don’t have the funds or the necessary public interest to become large museums. The fact that these smaller museums have live actors adds a new dimension to the historical experience of the visitors. It allows these smaller museums to offer something that the larger and better funded ones can’t. It also allows them to focus on more niche historical experiences, like living on a plantation or on a navy ship and a shipboard surgeon.


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