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Farm living
By RYAN HATCH Colorado Daily Staff
Tuesday, March 11, 2008 9:37 PM MDT

Rural farm life will make its home in Boulder for the next couple months. And, of course, there will be cows to milk.

The Boulder History Museum has welcomed a new exhibit to occupy its walls with the opening of “Growing Seasons, An American Farm Family at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century,” a several-month long educational exhibit on the foundation of rural life, beginning in the early 1900s. The exhibit will house casein paintings (art using paint which is derived from milk, has a glue-like consistency), Boulder County farm artifacts and even the chance to see what milking a cow was really like. Museum visitors will get the opportunity to have an in-depth look at the realities of living on America's rural farms, growing up in the 20th century.

Many of the exhibits are interactive set-ups with artifacts from the farm. Some of the panels have even been transcribed into Spanish, encouraging people from all sorts of different backgrounds to attend. Susan Linde, the Museum's public relations director said they have coordinated with several of the local bilingual schools to come in and explore the gallery for an educational field trip.

“It's the first exhibit we've had translated into Spanish,” Linde said. “We've reached out to the schools with the strongest bilingual student base and in doing so, we've allowed people to look at the panel descriptions both in English and Spanish.”

However, Linde said one of the most exciting parts of the new exhibit is how involved the visitors can become with the display. Picking up the tools people used while being able to milk an almost full-size cow are some of the highlights, she said.

“In order to make it more interactive for families and children, there is not quite a life-size cow, maybe the size of a calf, but a cow nonetheless that they can authenticate the idea of milking,” she said.

The exhibit is based on an award-winning nonfiction book that has been recognized in “Smithsonian Magazine” and selected as a Teacher's Choice by the International Reading Association. The exhibit also includes media features, allowing the visitors to listen to recordings in either English or Spanish.

“Kids can listen to the Storybook on the iPods available and there's a DVD they can watch that's a segment on life growing up on a farm in the 20s,” Linde said. “There are just so many hands-on pieces to the exhibit.”

And of course, there are many original paintings on display that were used in the book.

“They're a milk-based paint that the storybook is based on and the pictures in [the book] are also [on display],” Linde said.

Still, the most exciting part for Linde and the other Museum employees is being able to have visitors come and experience such a dynamic and multi-faceted exhibit.

“We've had guests come that don't know it's bilingual and thrilled because we do have a lot of tourists come in to the museum as well,” she said. “And not all of them are English speaking so we've had people be surprised that way though some of the promotion we've done.”

The exhibit has been on display since late January and expects to remain up until the first week of June, hoping to stay open for the remainder of the academic semester and allow as many schools and visitors to see the displays. “Growing Seasons” will give way to the Museum's summer opening, SUMMERFEST, on June 8th and will be the kick-off event of the season.