Trail End’s Junior Curators program is designed to give students grades six through eight a chance to experience and learn about history in a hands-on way. It was originally designed as part of the Wyoming State Parks & Historic Sites Kids eXtreme initiative.
During the program, students get to choose an artifact to research and exhibit. Included in the process is learning how to properly clean and handle the artifact and then research its use: how and why people used the object, and what we can learn from it. The students also write an informational text panel explaining their findings to the public. At the end of the week, the students work together to create one cohesive exhibit that is on display for the rest of the year.
This program allows our junior curators to do real museum work and contribute information to our artifact collection database. In return, the students get to experience history in a different light. Instead of just reading about “things” that “people” used to use, they get to hold and study a real object actually owned by a person they have researched. The ultimate goal is to get students interested in history and further fuel their excitement about it, as well as to give them a chance to become vested in their local historical institution.
Past exhibits have included artifacts that have never before been researched or displayed, objects used for special occasions from fraternal ceremonies to weddings, items that are small and easily overlooked in the rooms of a house museum, and objects belonging to extended members of the Kendrick family. The display space allows us to highlight artifacts that we would not normally have a reason to exhibit.
Junior Curators is an award winning program: Trail End and/or participating students have received a award from the Wyoming State Historical Society every year that the program has been submitted for consideration.