December has brought a Christmas wonderland transformation to the museum for people of all ages to enjoy.
Although anyone can come and experience the museum’s high holiday spirit, Queens County Museum director Linda Rafuse says their theme is always Christmas is for kids.
Two hour programming is offered to schoolchildren ranging from nursery school up to grade five. Children will come with their class and participate in a two-hour program in three separate groups: Christmas legends and traditions, Victorian and Colonial Christmases, and the Mi’kmaw component of Christmas.
Rafuse says she thinks the most popular part of the programming is the Toyland room. A Toyland is something the staff all gear towards, displaying toys from many years ago, to new toys.
“Barbies and Transformers, old time trucks. Lots of teddy bears, and oodles of dolls,” says Rafuse. “There's a Victorian Christmas setting that shows a range of toys from Victorian times up to the turn of the century, and up to 25 years ago. A little bit of everything.”
Many of the toys are under the 14 Christmas trees up throughout the museum, some of which Rafuse says are special.
“One tree is full of webs, the other tree is full of icicles or tinsel,” says Rafuse. “That tells the legend of the Christmas Spider, an old German legend of the Christmas spiders that spun webs on a Christmas tree, then Santa turned it magically into shimmering icicles on Christmas Eve.”
The old German legend is but one of the many learning parts of the educational programming. The children will also be learning things such as early traditions and legends, about toys through time, the Winter Solstice, and a little Christmas song in Mi’kmaw playing different instruments.”
After the children finish learning about different aspects of Christmas, they all gather in the Toyland room for singing, juice and chocolate chip cookies. Rafuse says the chocolate chip cookies compliments of Atlantic Superstore, who have always given the children chocolate chip cookies.
While snacks are being enjoyed, the children are told about the “Elf Cam” hidden in the corner of the room.
“We explain when Santa sees school children on the Elf Cam visiting the Queens County Museum, he calls them on the speaker phone and he talks to them,” says Rafuse. “They get all excited about that, they wait and listen to see if the phone's going to ring,” says Rafuse.
And when the phone does ring, the children get to speak with Santa Claus himself.
As the program comes to an end, the children get to make their own magic reindeer food.
“After we put magic into the oats, the kids take their magic reindeer food home,” says Rafuse. “They take their reindeer food along with an ornament to colour and hang on their tree.”
The museum has been doing the same programming for more than 15 years, and Rafuse says it is becoming bigger and better.
“Where it's been so popular, we can have anywhere between 200 and 400 kids in our Christmas season,” says Rafuse. “We have over 200 children currently booked right now to come in between now and the 17th.”
The museum is open to the public with free admission. Rafuse says the staff welcomes not only children, but parents and grandparents to come and view the Christmas room as well.
“Even though we only do the programming for the school kids, if you ask the story of the spider, or any of the traditions, I'm sure the staff would be glad to tell a story,” says Rafuse. “And if you're bringing the kids, they'll get a free package of magic reindeer food to take with them.”
The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., only closed from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. for lunch. The Christmas theme will be in place until Dec. 23, which will be the museum’s last day before it is closed until after New Years.