While searching around for a day trip, I stumbled across a local medical museum. I have been sort of wary of medical museums because, though I find them infinitely fascinating, I think that they can tend toward the gory. I don't think that I should hide things from my children, but perhaps age appropriate exposure is an okay thing. I should have stuck with my policy and avoided this one too!
The website (see above) is brightly colored and enthusiastic. "A great day out in Yorkshire!" I looked through the pictures and it looked less medical history and more interactive exhibits about the human body. That seems cool, right??
I would like to first let the audience know that the oldest child with us on that day was eight. The youngest was three. (We were with another family, but they have a child the same age as Isaac and another the same age as Talia.)
As we entered the museum, we were asked to read through biographies of some people from the mid 1800's. Everyone was supposed to pick a person and follow their story, as we walked through a life size representation of a poverty stricken Victorian close. It was poorly lit, had authentic smells and sounds and was a bit scary. Add to that, every.single.one. of the characters had been exposed to some, extremely common, but completely life threatening illness! Then we walked through a section that described the medicines, health care and costs associated with those two things. At the end, we were informed whether or not our character survived. We got to the end and Elie yells, "I picked the nine month old baby and she DIED from too much medicine!" Okay, not the most pleasant illustration of how lucky we are to live in the country/time period we live in, but not the worst thing in the world.
Next exhibit was about fake joints. That was fun because someone we know has a fake joint. (Hi! GranEde!) The kids were incredibly excited to actually see what a "new knee" looks like. There were drawings of the surgery and real-fake-knees that they could manipulate and feel.
Moving on we encountered a whole history of surgery, that opened with a movie that was a dramatic retelling of a story about a young girl (nine or ten) working in a factory who had gotten her leg caught in the machinery. The leg needed to be amputated to save her life. Elie and Isaac would not be dissuaded from watching. They didn't show any gore - per se. But there was some screaming and it was intense. (Elie recently admitted she had been having some nightmares from the video, in which she has to get her arm/leg/body part amputated.) There was also a video, from the early days of motion pictures, that demonstrated how fast a surgeon would have worked before anesthetic. It was on repeat and the kids were just standing there watching it over and over. We hurried through the rest of the history of surgery, breezed by the history of obstetrics and finally ended up in the brightly colored, learn about your body section of the museum.
They all had a great time measuring how much they weighed, how high they could jump, how far they could reach and how tall they were. They read and looked, built and took apart. It was a really cool set of exhibits, with little experiments and skill tests.
I don't think I'm sorry we went, though it wasn't what I was expecting. Perhaps it was a little pricey for how long we were there, but it was really interesting. They don't seem *too* scarred by the whole thing....but I don't think we'll go back in the near future.