One of the best ways to experience the history of Amherst, Massachusetts, is paying a visit to the Amherst History Museum. This museum houses relics and artifacts pertaining to the periods ranging from the colonial past, the industrial age, and the latter part of the 19th century.
The Amherst History Museum was established in 1916, and is governed by the Amherst Historical Society. The museum is housed in a 1750 building called Strong House. The house was built by a farmer named Nehemiah Strong. The house predates the formation of Amherst.
During this period, the region was known by the name Third Precinct, and sometimes as East Swamp. In its initial years, the house was a small-sized building featuring a large center chimney. It gradually grew to a 3-story gambrel-roofed mansion.
In the museum, one can find artifacts such as decorative items, paintings, tools, and agricultural implements, all of which trace the history of Amherst. Special features of the museum are its period rooms, each of which belongs to a particular era.
The oldest of these is the Simeon Strong Room, which portrays 18th-century life. The room features items such as Queen Anne chairs, pewter, china, press bedstead, and other similar 18th-century objects which belonged to Simeon Strong, the last member of the Strong family to live in this building.
The 19th century is showcased in the Sarah Emerson Room. Sarah Emerson and her daughters were the last family to live in this house. Following Mrs. Emersonís death, the house was willed to the Amherst Historical Society in 1916. Mrs. Emersonís bedroom is preserved intact as per the will. The artifacts in this room belong to the period from the early- to mid-19th century.
Mabel Loomis Todd, the founder of Amherst Historical Society, is given a special place in the Amherst History Museum, as well. The Todd Room is dedicated to this distinguished lady, who was known for her interests in traveling, science, art, and music. The collection of paintings and art items that she accumulated during her travels grace the room.
Apart from the rooms dedicated to individuals, the museum houses the Town of Amherst Room. As the name suggests, this room is dedicated to the local history, ranging from the pre-settlement Indian days to the 19th century.
Some of the prime displays include Native American arrowheads and grinding stones, wood planes, palm-leaf hats, and brick molds of the 19th century, and the historic everyday objects such as post office signs, copper town measures, leather fire buckets, and quilts are on display.
Amherst History Museum also features rotating exhibits and special programs for school children. Educational tours for the children are regularly arranged. The museum, in partnership with the regional school district, offers the students a chance to relive the past via the Civil War Encampment, which is arranged on the adjoining grounds.
The viewing experience of the museum is complemented by the adjoining 18th-century garden. The garden contains plant varieties that were grown during the early days. Even the styling of the garden pertains to the 18th century.