Old Independence Regional Museum is pleased to announce that we have received funding to expand our Field Trip Grant program. This program was originally created for the 2009-2010 school year to encourage public schools to take advantage of the regional educational opportunities that the museum has to offer. The grant paid for the general admission to the museum for schools from the 12 county region that the museum represents: Baxter, Cleburne, Fulton, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Marion, Poinsett, Sharp, Stone, White, and Woodruff. Now, in addition to the exhibit tour, which includes the Depression Era Back Porch, Shawnee Town, Region on the Move, our current temporary exhibit, 19th century toys and games, and a visit to the gift shop, schools can receive grant funds to help pay for some of the hands-on, demonstration, and living history programs that the museum offers.

“Our Field Trip Grant program has been a huge success, and we have been exploring ways to make the programs offered by the museum more affordable for schools. Now a donor has granted us the funds to do it. We are so excited to be able to offer this opportunity to our region’s schools, and hope that they will take advantage of the generous contribution of our funder,” stated Amanda Nikkel, Humanities Educator.


The museum offers 20 programs that focus on Native Americans, Pioneers, the Civil War, Great Depression, and WWII. A few of these programs are:


Pictographs were symbols that were used by Native Americans to represent ideas and communicate stories. Students will examine historic Native American pictographs and the materials used to produce them. Students will then use pictographs to write their own story.


Clayworks – Clay was like a treasure trove for Native Americans. A museum interpreter will discuss several of the ways clay was used and how clay pottery was discovered. Students will create a pinch pot, animal effigy, or pendant out of clay.


Churn Butter Churn – For families living long ago butter was churned at home once a week and was often a chore for children. This was a time consuming, yet rewarding, process. Students visiting the museum will learn about the science and history of butter making. They will experience first hand the work that went into it. At the end of the program students will be able to sample the result of their hard work.


What do you see?— Optical illusions trick the brain into thinking it sees something different from what is actually there. Toys that produced optical illusions became very popular in the 19th century. Students will learn about some popular optical illusions, will make a thaumatrope, and will design a wooden top to take home.


Freedom Quilts—This program begins with a discussion of the Underground Railroad and how quilt patterns are thought to have been used to send messages. The museum interpreter will read “Patchwork to Freedom” and the program ends with students piecing a grade appropriate paper quilt block.


“I Am Not a Spy”—Students will be visited by Emily Weaver, a teenager from Batesville who was accused and convicted of spying during the Civil War. Although sentenced to death, Emily escaped from prison, eventually making her way home to Batesville. Emily’s story illustrates how many families were divided by the Civil War. Students will also learn about the “social whirl” that took in place in Batesville during the war years when soldiers were encampment in Batesville. Following the living history performance, students will learn the “secret language of the fan”, a code used by you ladies during the Victorian era to communicate across a crowded room with their friends or suitors. A museum interpreter will demonstrate the language, and students will get a handout detailing the code.


Making Music – The Great Depression was a challenging time for most living in the Independence County region. To lift their spirits folks came together to listen to the radio, tell stories, and make music, and not having money to buy instruments did not stop them. Many made do with homemade instruments. While visiting the museum students will learn some ways people entertained themselves during the Great Depression, with focus being given to music. Students will be able to try their hands at the museum’s collection of “make do” instruments and make a set of spoons that they will learn to play and take home.


The length of each program ranges from 30 minutes to 1 hour and price from $1 to $3. Each program is limited to 30 students.


The grant funds will be administered by the museum, and schools from the museum’s 12-county region are invited to apply for a portion of the grant funds. Please contact Amanda Nikkel or April White at 793-2121 for more information about the programs the museum offers or to obtain an application form for your school.


“Our hope is that this program will be a huge success, and we will continue to offer and expand it from year to year,” said Nikkel.


Old Independence serves a 12-county area: Baxter, Cleburne, Fulton, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Marion, Poinsett, Sharp, Stone, White, and Woodruff. Parts of these present-day counties comprised the original Independence County in 1820s Arkansas territory.


The museum is located at 380 South 9th street, between Boswell and Vine Streets in Batesville.