RIHS Joins Smithsonian Magazine for 14th Annual Museum Day

Free Admission at John Brown House to Include Kids Book Event; MoWC Also Free

The Rhode Island Historical Society, a Smithsonian Affiliate, will open the John Brown House Museum (52 Power St., Providence) and Museum of Work & Culture (42 S. Main St., Woonsocket) free of charge on Saturday, Sept. 22, 10am-4pm, as part of Smithsonian magazine’s 14th annual Museum Day, a national celebration of boundless curiosity in which participating museums emulate the free admission policy at the Smithsonian Institution’s Washington D.C.-based museums.

In addition to free admission for Museum Day, the John Brown House Museum will feature programming centered on the recently released children’s book The World in One Square Mile: Central Falls (Stillwater River Publications, $21).

Authored by RIHS Executive Director C. Morgan Grefe and illustrated by Phoenix Chan, the beautiful hardbound children’s book tells the story of Central Falls and its environs through a series of vignettes narrated by various 10-year-old characters over the course of four different centuries, with an emphasis on the city’s diversity. It is a collaboration among the RIHS, the City of Central Falls and Mayor James Diossa, the Rhode Island Foundation, the Cape Verdean Student Association at Central Falls High School, and Stillwater River Publications.

“This book is about the remarkable city of Central Falls, and so it’s also about discovery, curiosity, empathy, and achievement,” Grefe said. “In Central Falls’ story, imagined through the eyes of the children of immigrants, we can see the story of Rhode Island, as well as of the United States.”

Grefe continued:

“When sharing the book with young people, I often tell them, ‘Part of your job after reading this book is to say, “What story do I want to tell?”’ In turn, making it the focus of our Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day festivities seemed to us a natural fit given the event’s founding principles of access, equity, and inclusion – all of which comprise a big part of our mission at the RIHS. Along with our partners on this project, we’re honored and thrilled, as always, to take part in this celebration of America’s museums.”

Museum Day at the John Brown House Museum will kick off with a reading from the book at 10:15am. Highlights of the day include a special visit from Mayor Diossa, who will discuss the book and read a selection at noon, as well as a presentation from Grefe titled “Reflecting on Central Falls:  Rhode Island’s History in One Square Mile” at 3pm.

In addition to the speaking programs, throughout the day, children and families are invited to share their own stories by creating a collage that will be scanned and added to a public digital album. The John Brown House Museum will provide materials for the collage, but visitors are welcome to bring copies of their own personal photographs to add. Copies of the children’s book will be available for purchase.

RIHS docents will be on hand throughout the John Brown House Museum to chat with visitors; please note that while admission to the museum is free, tickets for the “Benefit Street: A Mile of History” walking tour at 10am are regular price ($15/$12 members).

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