A place devoted to telling visitors how life was like during the 19th century: that’s Har-Ber Village Museum, Grove, Okla.
“Har-Ber Village is actually one of the largest antique museums in the country,” said Tim Field, program director for the village. “It focuses on rural and town life of the 19th century.”
The village began in 1968 by founders Harvey and Bernice Jones, hence the name Har-Ber Village.
“We have more than 100 exhibits in buildings that can be viewed,” said Field. “In the last few years, a lot of the barriers have been taken out of the buildings, so you can actually enter into them.”
Items range from toys to clothing to tools to modes of transportation to books to cookware, among others.
And there is something for everyone.
“Particularly for kids, we have what we call the ‘kids’ cabin,’ and it is one of our pioneer cabins – an original building – but there is no barrier, they can go inside, pretend that they are cooking on the wood stove, they can play in the loft upstairs with the toys, it is just something that the kids really enjoy,” he said. “We have also started some working exhibits in the last year and a half. The print shop here is now a working exhibit and we use the antique press periodically to actually print things. We have a working blacksmith shop. We also opened a weaving exhibit this year that highlights a 1840s, 1850s barn loom, and we actually have some of our volunteers that weave on that loom.
“The museum brings that to life to the kids,” said Field. “Our special event days, we always do it on a Friday and Saturday. Friday is primarily geared for school groups, so the kids can come in and learn what things were done every day in the 19th century and how people survived, without the automation and the technology that we have today. A lot of the kids that come on Friday, we see them come back on Saturday, they bring their parents and grandparents.”
Other activities can include doing laundry the old-fashioned way with a scrub board and even churning butter.
Visitors come from all over. Most of the items displayed came from the private collection of the founders of the village.
“We do have things that have been donated, but we are not actively soliciting more,” said Field.
Field talked about a unique item in the collection.
“We have a bell that came from a ship that sailed out of Massachusetts during the Revolutionary War,” he said. “The ship was named The Joseph: it was originally intended to go into a scrap drive in the 1940s. Some farmer bought it, he lived in Arkansas, and used it to call in his workers for lunch. When he passed, Harvey Jones bought it. It sits here in a display case.”
Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12:30 to 5 p.m. Sunday. There is an admittance fee. Children ages 6-13 are $5, adults are $10, 63 and older are $7.50 and children under 6 are free of charge. There are family rates and groups rates available.
For more information, please call (918) 786-6446 or visit them online at www.har-bervillage.com.