Some people drink to forget, but that wasn’t the case at Big Boss Brewing on Saturday, where every patron was being reminded or taught about the past.
In an effort to expand its fan base, the North Carolina Museum of History brought a pop-up exhibit to the Raleigh brewery. All afternoon, the brewery offered tours of its operations and museum staffers guided people through hands-on activities.
The pop-up exhibits are one way to engage a younger crowd who might not have set foot in any museum since a grade school field trip.
“It’s coming to places where they are and telling them, ‘Hey, we’re doing tons of cool things, so put us on your radar,’ ” said Cassandra Bennett, the museum’s director of adult education programs.
This was the first time the museum has hosted a pop-up museum at a brewery, but Bennett and Sally Bloom, another employee, said it likely won’t be the last. They’ve had a few at parks and cultural events before, too. Bloom is in charge of the Longleaf Film Festival, a statewide showcase of films that’s also aimed at engaging a wider audience.
“The demographics we’re missing tend to be people (in their 20s or 30s)” she said.
The pop-up museums are also an example for people of all ages of our rapidly changing world. Bloom was showing off sewing kits, baking tools and medical implements that all were in common use just a few generations ago. Yet they were unrecognizable to many people Saturday.
Bloom encouraged visitors to think what they have now that might be similarly unrecognizable in 100 years.
“But not even 100 years, it could be 10 years,” said Mona Tauber, a PhD student at N.C. State. “Technology is progressing so quickly.”
Tauber, 44, is a former elementary school math teacher. Her husband, Peter Tauber, 48, a native of Germany, was more interested in the history of beer and beer laws in North Carolina. With a pop-up museum in a brewery, they were both happy.
Mona Tauber said the current generation of children usually has no idea what floppy disks or rotary phones are, and sometimes that generational knowledge gap makes formerly simple lessons like how to read a clock much more difficult.
“They’re so used to being digital that it’s a lot harder to teach common skills,” she said.
Some children were looking at the artifacts or coloring. Bennett held up a metal candle holder for 4-year-old Austin Garten to try to identify.
“You know candles?” Bennett asked him. “Before there was electricity, people had to use candles for light.”
In addition to increasing its pop-up presence at breweries to plug the museum and the film festival, the history museum also holds in-house events that might draw younger crowds.
Every first Friday of the month, the museum hosts exhibits with alcohol on hand to bring in the crowds who are already on the streets. There are also frequent lunchtime programs for people working downtown, and in addition to its permanent exhibits the museum hosts several temporary traveling exhibits each year.
Right now visitors can learn about Latinos in North Carolina, the culture of the mountains, child labor in the early 20th century, the moonshiner who invented the M1 carbine rifle, and more.
Starting Saturday, the museum also began showing a collection of photos from famous North Carolina photographer Hugh Morton, who created the Blue Ridge nature preserve Grandfather Mountain.
Doran: 919-836-2858; Twitter: @will_doran