Museum visitors learn new skills, activities during the event | News
Learning a rope trick was one of the fun activities enjoyed by hundreds of children while visiting the Will Rogers Memorial Museum during Spring Break Week.
The museum offered guided tours by docents who narrated history, and there were spinners, quilters, and women who made lace doilies who demonstrated their craft throughout the museum. The library was open and Will Rogers movies were showing in the theater and in an alcove by a saddle.
Kenzie Ramsey brought along daughters Emerson, 6, and Harper, 7. Harper circled her rope around and around and didn’t stop until she was ready to stop.
“It’s my first rope,” Harper said.
Her little sister Emerson was also able to keep the rope going a little.
It’s probably a first time for many kids, Kenzie Ramsey said.
“We have many events for children. I’m an intern at RSU [Rogers State University]. I had so much fun last semester that I signed up for this semester,” said Ramsey.
Interns also take historical tours to sites like the State Capitol and Sequoyah’s Cabin.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Ramsey said.
Also with the Ramseys was Hoytanna Benigar.
“I’m her great-grandmother. I’ve been a lecturer since 2008,” Benigar said.
She was in the first teaching class.
“I love it here. During our training we also got to tour the ranch in California. It was an amazing experience. This museum is wonderful and has a lot of special events,” said Benigar.
Will Rogers Memorial Museum History interpreter Bart Taylor has been a part of the museum for six years, on two separate occasions.
“I love connecting kids to Will Rogers. He learned his first rope trick at the age of 7. He became a movie star because he could entertain people with a rope. He still has the Guinness Book of World Records that nobody has broken,” Taylor said.
Taylor demonstrated a rope trick as people entered the museum, often circling it around several people at once.
“Being in a rope trick is a reminder of life,” Taylor said.
Down the hall, members of the Lacemakers Guild of Oklahoma were making lace doilies. In another room with a statue of Will Rogers, women did quilting and taught children to sew. In the next room, members of the Tulsa Handspinners spin with traditional spinning wheels.
A man held an object while wrapping spun wool around it.
“I use a drop spindle,” said JT Branch.
His wife, Carolyn Branch, spun a traditional wooden spinning wheel that was foot-powered.
“Spidering is so peaceful. And I enjoy sharing the art with young people who have never seen it before,” she said.
Spinner Jeannine Glaves used a modern spinning wheel.
“I spin a silk-wool blend with a Nano wheel. It is battery powered or you can plug it in. It’s great for people to be able to turn without using their legs,” Glaves said.
Down the hall and around the corner, Brandi Florek and his family from Amarillo, Texas, who were visiting family in McAlester, viewed dioramas of various aspects of Will Rogers’ life. It was the first time they visited the museum.
“It’s beautifully done. I love how excited the docents are to share the story and the kids’ join-in booths,” said Florek.
McAlester’s Jeff Daniels also attended for the first time. He particularly enjoyed seeing the saddles and watching movies about Will Rogers with real rappelling.
“I went to the gun museum. On our last trip we ran out of time to come here. I thought Gus would enjoy it,” Daniels said.
The architecture impressed Marcin Florek.
“The building is really neat. Will Rogers had interesting quotes. I like to see him do rope tricks,” said Florek.
On a guided tour, Instructor Linda Bradshaw was in the room with the statue of Will Rogers, where quilters were sewing, quilts were on display, and a girl was learning to sew.
“His daughter Mary unveiled this statue. It was made in Europe and unveiled two years after his death. It was quite a shock to Mary to see her father looking down on her after two years,” Bradshaw said.
Will Rogers lived from 1879 to 1935. His most famous quote “I never met a man I didn’t like” is written on the statue’s base.
“See the shiny toes of his shoes? Everyone rubs them for happiness,” Bradshaw said.
Quilter Shirley Weygandt taught Elise Lehman, 6, how to sew on a sewing machine.
“It was fun learning to lasso. But I like to sew and pedal; I can’t do that at home,” Elise said.
Her mother, Sara Lehman of Claremore, said her mother-in-law made quilts for all the grandchildren and inspired Elise to make a quilt she designed herself.