Earlier today, I visited the American Folk Museum in Northern Ireland. Inside the main building were pieces of art and several trinkets that were supposed to show a connection between Northern Ireland and a nineteenth-century America. Those items were all well and good, but the truly amazing exhibits were outdoors. Old colonial buildings were re-created on the outskirts of the museum. Some of them were models of old Irish buildings, and others were attempts at old American buildings.
Both sets of architecture were extremely authentic. When I stepped into the Irish colonial cottages, they looked just like the ones I would see in the Plymouth Plantation back home in Massachusetts. The cottages had minimal living conditions, stone walls, wooden roofs, and a cooking fire burning in a pot (which gave off enough smoke to suffocate me). It made me realize that although each country has a different culture, they all pretty much start at the same place. As time has progressed, people are able to make lifestyle changes that suit the identities of their cultures, but back in colonial times, everyone had the same limited resources. Survival was the main priority, and overall, it is important to realize that most people in that time were probably going about it in the same way.
The American houses were really interesting too. They looked more like old western houses rather than colonial houses, but their designs were still very engaging. I never knew that the bedding of an old bed was suspended by tight ropes. I had thought that there was at least some sort of mattress available back in those times, however primitive it may have been. Nevertheless, it is important not to take these model houses at face value, for even though they could be very authentic, they do not have a completely American perspective on the designs, which could have led to some inconsistencies. The blend of cultural perspectives is always interesting to observe, which is why I am glad that I was able to see the sights presented at the American Folk Museum.