Learning by Touring

The Barker Mansion is home to many events. It opens its doors to the public and community, allowing people to be a part of the mansion. Meeting for organizations, “how to” classes, parties, and sleepovers are just a few of the many happenings that occur in the Barker Mansion. One aspect of the mansion that sometimes gets overlooked, but is indeed important, is the fact that we give out tours of the mansion.

The mansion has added signs to further help interpret rooms.

Tours of the Barker Mansion happen every Tuesday through Saturday at 1pm. In the past, tours have been self-guided and allowed people to walk through the mansion at their own leisure. Now, tours are all led by a guide and everyone is a part of one group. The tour itself takes around 45 minutes and allows people the chance to see the many rooms of the mansions.

Another interpretation sign.

I’ve had the ability to tag along on a few tours of the mansion. The mansion isn’t a massive place, but I’ve always seemed to learn something new. There have been times where I’ve privately walked around the three floors, exploring the different rooms. Those these walks were nice, I never really knew what I was looking at.

The door that is often mistaken for a dumbwaiter.

The rooms are elegant and grand. The bedrooms are spacious and fancy. The halls are large. The ballroom is filled with fascinating artifacts. However, that’s basically all I could ever take away from walking through the mansion on my own. All the knowledge I’ve gained about the mansion has been given to me through the tours.

Some of the artifacts of the mansion.

This past Saturday I joined the 1pm tour and once again went through the mansion. Once again, I learned some new things like that there’s a hidden button on the table in the dining room. One lady was talking to the tour guide and I overheard an interesting tidbit. The lady shared that she personally enjoys having a guide rather than doing self-guided.

One of the many pianos in the mansion.

In my head, I agreed with the lady. The guide spoke about how she also enjoys having a guide since then you know what you’re looking at. Naturally, the guides we have know everything there is possibly to know about the mansion and the Barker family. This point was really insightful. It makes perfect sense. Yes, it’s nice to have the ability to tour the mansion on your own, seeing the many rooms at your own pace. However, unless you’re a real history buff, you aren’t really learning/knowing anything about the mansion.

The room of Catherine’s teacher.

Everything looks really nice, but what makes the mansion interesting is the history surrounding it all. The era it’s from and the family that lived in it are what make the mansion fascinating. So, I’ve enjoyed having the ability to join a tour group and learn more and more about the mansion. It’s allowed me to morph a more complete perspective on interning here. Being guided through the mansion has allowed me to be more appreciative of the mansion as a whole.

I’m grateful for always having a guide on the tours since it’s allowed me to understand what I’m looking at/supposed to be looking at. Greater, finer details are given about a room and why it was set up the way it was. Explanation for certain styles and choices are told so that I’m able to walk away from the tour with a greater sense of knowledge.

Miguel Valencia


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