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Colonial Williamsburg During COVID-19

ClaytonClayton Richards is a graduating MA student at the University of South Florida with interest in American history, particularly American expansion and imperialism.


Colonial Williamsburg During COVID-19

The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused all business to change the way they operate. This includes historically based businesses, such as museums, both traditional and “living,” and open-air historical attractions. This can be particularly difficult for these types of businesses, as they rely on attracting large amounts of people to their locations and in the case of living museums, on the interactions between the visitors and the interpreters. However, in the face of these massive upheavals, living history museums have been forced to adapt to theses new circumstances. A prime example of this is Colonial Williamsburg. Forced to close in the wake of COVID-19, Colonial Williamsburg has moved their interpretations online, encouraging visitors to their website to “travel back in time from their couch.”1 These interpretations take the form of blogs entries mainly, written by historical interpreters. These blog entries often look to educate people on certain aspects of 18th century life, while also heavily involving the interpreters themselves. There are blog entries exploring certain characters and figures from Williamsburg. Others are done in more of a Question and Answer style, with interpreters answering questions either their work as interpreters in Williamsburg or questions about their characters, such as Thomas Jefferson. They have also posted an entry about how 18th century apothecaries would have dealt with COVID-19. Colonial Williamsburg has also tried to include more interactive material on their website. They highlight their online interactive resources on their page, even including activity pages for younger visitors and how-to guides for crafts and colonial-style food recipes for adults. This shows how Colonial Williamsburg is trying to remain relevant during the COVID-19 crisis. They are still pushing the interactive elements that have made them famous, but they are embracing new mediums for this out of necessity. Colonial Williamsburg is using its resources and archives to keep its history relevant during this current crisis, by combing online and their signature interpretations as best they can. With the circumstances caused by the COVID crisis, history has had to push pasts its traditional zones in order to stay active in the public.

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