Student Museum Musings – Karen’s Favourite Room

By Karen A, Summer Student

The Oshawa Community Museum, although small, has three buildings and numerous rooms to display their collections. Out of all of the rooms my favourite room is the Henry House Kitchen. Why you might ask is the kitchen my favourite room? Well, let me explain.

The Henry House Kitchen
The Henry House Kitchen

The kitchen is a place where everyone can go and feel at home. The kitchen has always been a place where messes are made and not worried about.  Produced in the kitchen is breakfast, lunch and dinner, which makes the kitchen the best smelling room in the house. Unlike the parlor, study or dining room, the kitchen is a relaxed space where you can go to get daily chores completed.

The Henry House Kitchen has an abundant amount of artifacts in it, all of them used in different and interesting ways. From the nanny bench, to the loom, from the rocker churn to the mustache mug; everything in the kitchen is one of a kind. The kitchen is one of the largest rooms in the house which allows more artifacts to be put on display in the room, and allows more artifacts to be in storage in the room. Most people wouldn’t notice it but all of the shelving and drawers in the kitchen occupy artifacts in the museum’s collection.  With so many artifacts in one room you are always learning about something new!

Our nanny bench, a unique artifact found in the kitchen
Our nanny bench, a unique artifact found in the kitchen

Everyone cooks! The Victorians needed to eat just as much as we do. With that being said, the Victorians prepared food differently than we do today however from this difference we can learn how they did prepare food in the kitchen. In the Henry House Kitchen there are all different artifacts showing how food was prepared in the Victorian era. We have an apple peeler, a coffee grinder and numerous butter-making artifacts. The history of food is a tasty and interesting subject.

Victorians did not just use the kitchen for cooking and eating food, they also made candles, butter and clothes in their kitchens. The kitchen was a multi-purpose room! In the Henry House Kitchen we don’t just have cooking and baking artifacts but we also have artifacts that tell us how clothes were made. One of the biggest artifacts in the kitchen, the loom, was used for making rugs, blankets and clothes. Although the loom in the Henry House Kitchen is a re-production it is still an interesting artifact. In the kitchen we also have threads that are dyed from various plants and herbs. The dyed threads allow us to see how different clothes got their colours.

Yarn died with herbs hanging in the Henry House Kitchen
Yarn died with herbs hanging in the Henry House Kitchen

For me, the kitchen is the room where everything takes place. When kids programs and birthday parties come to the museum we spend most our time in the kitchen explaining children’s roles and doing activities with the kids. The kitchen is a great place to do activities and crafts in because of the size and the openness of the room. We might have to move some of the artifacts on the center table for crafts but it’s worth it to teach the children about Victorian life.

The kitchen is unlike any other room in Henry House because visitors can walk around the whole room and see up close all of the artifacts. All of the other rooms in the house are blocked by a rope for the artifacts’ security, but this limits what visitors can see.

I love the kitchen because there is so much history in one room and with numerous artifacts I’m learning something new each day! Even I, a Visitor Host who has been with the museum for a year, am still learning about the museum’s collection and one room that has so much to learn about is the kitchen. Every time I step into the kitchen I find an artifact I didn’t know was there!

Simply said, the kitchen is the heart of the house, that’s why it’s my favourite room.

Karen Kitchen (2)


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