One of the most thought provoking museums that I have had the opportunity to visit was the Ulster American Folk Park in Northern Ireland. This park is an open air museum that follows different generations through the years giving visitors a very personal view of the people. With original buildings and recreated scenes, actors dressed up in period clothes and displaying crafts and skills of the time, it all makes for an interesting walk through history. It starts with the simple homes with thatched roofs and peet moss burning in the fireplace. It moves you through a recreated port where you enter the ship bound for America in hopes of a better life. The ship is small and dark and you can see how many people would be crammed into such a small space. And then it moves you to the recreated port of Ellis Island where each person had to undergo an examination before being allowed to proceed. If you did not pass the exam, then you were put back onto the boat and sent back. And then you go to the streets of New York where you see the scenes of what life was like for those who came over as they lived in small dingy places facing prejudice in not being able to find work anywhere. This museum is incredible and really makes you feel connected to so many people and the courage they had as they left their home and ventured to America in search of something better. There is no better way to understand someone then by walking in their shoes and this museum does just that.
For more information on this amazing place go to https://www.nmni.com/our-museums/ulster-american-folk-park/Home.aspx