Mathers Museum celebrates the holidays early with Family Craft Day

The Mathers Museum of World Cultures offers a variety of programming, including its Family Craft Days, which incorporate the younger members of the community, for university students and community members.

This week’s Family Craft Day theme is “Toys,” and the event will take place starting at 2 p.m. Sunday in the museum. Families attending will have the opportunity to make a variety of classic toys in celebration of the upcoming Indiana bicentennial Dec. 11. The toys add an element of entertainment to the celebration of Indiana’s history, according to Sarah Hatcher, head of programs and education for the museum.

Hatcher said this is in line with the tradition of the museum to start the holiday season with a creative event.

“Like each of the past few years, we really wanted to start the holiday season with a family craft day to give people the chance to slow down and spend some time together as a family,” Hatcher said in an email.

The afternoon’s bicentennial connection is just one of the reasons the museum chose the toy theme, Hatcher said.

“Toys seemed like an obvious and fun choice,” Hatcher said. “Nearly everyone is familiar with toys and the idea of play, so helping kids connect to history by making modern versions of historic toys seemed like a good way to go.”

Attendees will have the opportunity to create classic toys, dolls, ball and cup games, whirlygigs, and toys, including corn-husk dolls, with a traditional twist.

“All of the toys are great, but I think watching them make the corn-husk dolls will be really wonderful. For many of the kids this will be a material they’ve never worked with before,” Hatcher said. “I’m also looking forward to seeing the ball and cup in action. We did it several years ago at Lotus Blossoms World Bazaar, and it was great fun.”

The emphasis, as with all Family Craft Days, is to explore global cultures through crafting, though Hatcher said this event’s focus differs slightly from past events in the same vein.

“These activities are all from the United States, though some of them have their roots in the time before European contact,” Hatcher said. “Outside of the Halloween Family Fun Fests, it is unusual for us to focus on American culture.”

Hatcher said what stands out to her is how family-oriented events attract a mix of people to the museum in addition to museum regulars who attend every Family Craft Day.

Connecting people, especially those who have not attended events in the space before, to the museum and providing something to distract from the routine of daily lifeare just a few reasons why Mathers is host to events such as this one.

“Life is very busy, and it is easy to push visiting the museum off to the side for another day when there is less to do, but when there is an event or an activity to attend it can help make going to the museum a priority,” Hatcher said. “Once people are here, they inevitably have a great time.”

One of the major goals of the event is that families come and create together, Hatcher said.

“I hope the children walk away realizing that they don’t need expensive toys to have fun,” Hatcher said. “Sometimes all you need is a few supplies and your imagination to make some remarkable toys.”

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