Take a time traveling adventure and meet people who came to Rhode Island from four different countries. Hear their stories and find out why they came, what they brought and how they changed the Ocean State.
We all have stories about our families and how they came to America. While each of us reflects our individual culture, we share a common bond. Almost everyone living in Rhode Island has family roots in another country. Each group has experienced being new and different and all have brought customs, objects and perspectives that continue to enrich American life. Coming to Rhode Island celebrates the cultural diversity of the Ocean State.
In the exhibit's four story galleries, visitors discover the stories of actual people who immigrated to Rhode Island. The galleries are set in their historical context from an English colonist's farm to a Latino bodega in the 1960s. Hands-on activities bring the stories to life. Children climb aboard a replica packet ship to learn about the voyage from the Cape Verde islands and "work" in a simulated 19th century textile mill to understand the life of a French Canadian mill worker in northern Rhode Island.
The exhibit culminates in the Story Center where families find their ancestral lands on a huge map and tell their immigration stories using magnetic strips of words. Children choose from an assortment of books and activity kits, playing Colonial games of chance and weaving baskets in a variety of traditions. In addition, a video introduces the descendents of the historical immigrants, all of whom are children living in Rhode Island now. The descendent children are the hosts of history hunt, challenging visitors to look for clues as to why their forebears came to America, what they brought, how they changed and what they left behind.
Coming to Rhode Island is recommended for children ages 7 and up - and their adult friends - for maximum understanding. Younger children also enjoy pretending in the exhibit's historical environments.
Some things to do in Coming to Rhode Island
Ages 5 to 7:
Ages 8 and up: