WASHINGTON — The Gunn Historical Museum is offering a free virtual presentation on Zoom titled “The Spirit of Christmas Past: Four Centuries of Christmas in New England” with Kenneth Turino on Monday, December 7, 2020 at 6:30p.m. Registration is required by accessing the Museum’s page to sign up at www.gunnlibrary.org/gunn-museum/museum-registration-page/.
The presentation will view how Christmas was transformed from a rowdy celebration to a family centered event. Kenneth Turino said this will be the 14th presentation he has done this year. “I focus on the secular aspects of the holiday,” he said. “The main takeaway for those watching on Zoom will probably be that what we think of as old Christmas traditions are not as old as we think. This lecture traces the development of the celebration of Christmas from the time it was outlawed in 17th century New England, especially Massachusetts and New Hampshire, because it was primarily a drinking holiday with people going door to door saying they would not leave without a drink.”
He explained that in the beginning of the 21st century, all the trappings of a traditional Christmas were in place. He plans to include some Washington Christmas traditions and stories as well, and Zoom listeners are welcome to ask questions at the conclusion.
Kenneth Turino is a curator, educator, director, producer, and author, who holds a Masters of Arts in teaching and museum education, from George Washington University. As Manager of Community Partnerships and Resource Development at Historic New England, the oldest, largest and most comprehensive regional preservation organization in the country, he oversees community engagement projects throughout the region, which encompasses 37 historic sites and museums. He has published numerous public history articles, including many with a focus on interpreting historic sites and on LGBTQ history. He is also on the faculty of Tufts University in the Museum Studies Department where he teaches courses on Exhibition Planning, and Reimagining Historic House Museums.
Stephen Bartkus, curator of the Gunn Historical Museum, who has known Turino for many years, said the lecture will be well-illustrated and lively. Bartkus noted that the museum, which is on the first floor of a home built in 1781, is now open to the public on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A docent will be on hand to answer questions. The museum regularly changes exhibits; some of the most recent ones covered the influx of Swedish immigrants in Washington, Lake Waramaug and a dollhouse holiday exhibit.