The whole third section of our book is devoted to reinforcing the memories of a trip well taken and exploring the cultural diversity offered in your own hometown. But what I neglected to include in those chapters is the memory boost offered by electronic blasts from the past. Every couple of months I get an e-mail message from Nederlands Openluchtmuseum. Even before I open it, it brings me a little smile.
Back in 2007, when the kids were seven and four, we took the whole family to The Netherlands for a scientific conference. On an off day we took a train and a bus to a museum that was supposed to be fun for kids while documenting the everyday cultural heritage of the region. We had a great afternoon walking through the period buildings of the “Open Air Museum” and interacting with people in period costumes doing traditional labor like milling grain or smithing.
On that same trip we went to Denmark to visit old friends, who took us to Sagnlandet Lejre, another open-air museum with a slightly different focus. You can start in 19th century cottages, and then go back to an iron-age village and a stone-age camp, all populated by regular people like you volunteering to immerse themselves for a week in a long-lost way of life. Our family still talks about going back to “live in the past.”
Memories of these places come flooding back to me now every couple of months, thanks to those e-mails. Even though they are in Dutch, a language I don’t know, and I’m not likely to get back to the museum any time soon, I always open them to see what’s going on. I don’t want to discontinue this correspondence because for five minutes I am transported back to 2007, spending fun days with my family at great museums.