#34 Woodstock Museum

My name is David Ault and I would like to adopt the Woodstock Museum.

Woodstock Museum (Photograph by David Ault)

Woodstock Museum (Photograph by David Ault)

Tell us a bit more about yourself

I’m an actor and science presenter from the West Midlands in the UK. At the moment I’m directing two of the regional Big Bang fairs – local science festivals – as well as doing storytelling in the nation’s schools and theatre shows throughout the country. I’m kept very busy on the internet with a variety of voice acting roles, and I am a member of the couchsurfing community, having discovered its wonders whilst performing Shakespeare in India and crossing North America looking at science centres and museums.

Tell us a bit more about your adopted museum
I want to adopt the Woodstock Museum in SW Ontario, Canada, located on the main 401 Highway between London and Toronto, in a small city of around 30,000 people. The museum tells the local history of Woodstock, although it also branches out into wider culture and science, and they have a space for temporary exhibitions. It’s a council-funded museum and entrance is free. Most of its visitors come from Woodstock and the Oxford County around it.

Why have you chosen to adopt this museum?
The curators have really done their research and looked at what works in other places before creating the exhibits, and for a place that receives limited funding they’ve done a lot with what’s there. It’s housed in the old Town Hall, and rather than gutting it all and moving on, they’ve used what is already there and made that part of the local history exhibit. They’ve also got the right balance of words and interactivity, not ‘dumbing down’, but summarising the text of an interactive or exhibit and then expanding on it below, so the reader can choose how much they want to read. Basically, I have chosen to adopt this museum because it shows how well some research and careful planning can go into making an excellent visitor experience, rather than just throwing a load of money on hi-tech stuff that really isn’t necessary. Excellent curators, and a good outlook!

Why would you recommend people visit?
It’s excellent value for money in that it’s free to go in, and has something for all ages. The town crier, George “Washington” Jones, walks you around the galleries with various quizzes and games for all ages, and there are relevant interactives at different heights for the youngsters!

How would you sum up your museum in three words?
Fun, free, thoughtful

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