Places to Visit ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, Walnut Grove

Travel has  and always will be a favorite thing for me to do and post about and today I thought I’d fall back and pick up a post I hadn’t shared from last autumn ~ a visit to the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum, in Walnut Grove, Minnesota…

Timeline of world happenings which the Ingalls family would
have heard about by reading newspapers ~ those day’s “internet.”
The Laura Ingalls Wilder museum and learning center in Walnut Grove, Minnesota is housed in two main buildings. As you enter the first, you step into a large welcome center which houses an extensive bookstore and gift shop selling boxed sets of the Little House series of books written by Ms. Wilder.

The Little House books printed in various languages on display ~ love the French version of Little House on the Prairie (directly center)! On the right next to it is On the Banks of Plum Creek written in German with By the Shores of Silver Lake written in Spanish. The two left hand books are written in Dutch (think Holland), I believe.
Individual books from the series are also sold along with colorful calico prairie bonnets, aprons, tin cups and other memorabilia ~ all items enthusiastic readers would love to bring home as keepsakes from their special time playing “little house.”

This is a perfect place for teachers and homeschool families to take students as everything is interactive and geared towards studying the pioneering farm life.

The bookshop has every book written about Laura’s life and family including several books which talk about the harsh realities of the real life the Ingalls family actually lived.  Books about other celebrated Minnesota pioneers and first settlers, local birds and wildlife, and other topics are also available for sale giving readers a well-rounded education about life in Minnesota.

Can you spot the little iron which would have been used to press
one’s laundry?? 😉

After purchasing your ticket and following a pathway outside, you’ll gain entry to a two-room house set up much like what Ms. Ingalls and her family would have lived in during their travel days as pioneers.  The enclosed porch and front room display items from the 1870’s through the early 1900’s ~ items which would have been used in daily life for keeping house like this stove above.

Several years ago I visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum in DeSmet, South Dakota. Both are great places to take your children to learn about life and growing up during the Westward Expansion and pioneer years of the 1870’s through the 1890’s.
I didn’t do a write-up at the time and I am not sure why but I did share about the prairie and some of the places to stay there in DeSmet and you can read about that here.

Sorry these are so dark! It was a rainy Minnesota day and these outbuildings were not lighted. I love this little school house moved to the property! This is exactly how schools were built and fashioned back in the 1870’s and 1880’s.

The house is put together as a home-style museum with many cooking items like sad irons, kettles for cooking over an open fire when traveling across the vast open prairies, and frying pans. Various tools which would have been used for taking care of livestock are also on display. Something I find interesting is that back then tin buckets were multipurpose items used for milking the family cow then taking lunch to school.

Laura’s actual writing desk and other things she owned.

I believe this is the Braille Bible which was used in the
Little House series on television during the 1970’s and 1980’s.

 Some items actually owned by the Ingalls family are on display and are showcased behind glass for everyone to see. 

In the second large room, the rear attached building, this room was dedicated to items from the Little House on the Prairie t.v. show from the 1970’s starring Michael Landon, Karen Grassle, and Melissa Gilbert as Laura.
Love this 1970’s era US Postal Service advertisement!
Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder are also on display in this room.  Printed in 40 languages I enjoyed looking at all the title covers as trying to decipher each one in their native writing! (See above)

Since this is a living history museum of Minnesota, war memorabilia is also on display in another room or building, I can’t quite remember.
My son Peter and DIL Justine checking out the clothing to try on.
Veterans and their families have donated many of the items on display from WWI and WWII, mainly. Quite a nice display to learn about who served during the wars and in what campaigns they fought.

Quite fascinating to see history come alive!

Beyond the little house are a school building, church and some other living history buildings. A few leftover plants were still in bloom in mid-October. The one is a wild broccoli that came up on its own according to the caretakers inside. 

Local eateries are nearby too for lunch and the depression along Plum Creek still exists to the right of where I was in this photograph.  A short drive and then a short walk will take you to see the site ~ my photo next to the creek is about a 1/4 mile from where the Ingalls sod home was dug into the creek bed.
A little bright color at the bookshop’s entryway ~ seen on our way out.
The Laura Ingalls Wilder museum in Walnut Grove is really a fun place experience to what it must have been like to live like Laura Ingalls herself!

I highly recommend a visit there for yourself and your children and grandchildren ~ the history is fascinating and I loved seeing all the memorabilia and props from the television series.  Really a fun time!

On a side note…

A Little House on the Prairie Birthday Party
I HAVE to share this recent post from my friend Laura Ingalls Gunn of Decor to Adore as her daughter Alyssabeth was just the prairie belle of the ball at a young girl’s birthday party ~ this is a post YOU CANNOT MISS! 

Laura Ingalls Gunn is a direct descendant of Charles Ingalls brother James Lansford Ingalls and has been to several events as a representative of the Ingalls family, and you can find more as she writes about the costumes she creates and events here.

For more information you can follow any of the Laura Ingalls Wilder websites listed here.  I have followed the DeSmet site for years now and each place Laura actually lived has interactive living history museums.

The DeSmet museum hosts a Little House on the Prairie pageant each summer with other activities at several sites around the town of DeSmet, South Dakota. The cost for each activity and to enter the museum is minimal and a great way for children to learn about pioneer times in the area!

Here is a sweet site by Sarah S. Uthoff talking about the Ingalls Family ~ littlehouseontheprairie.com

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museums

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, Walnut Grove, Minnesota
330 8th Street, Walnut Grove, MN 56180 — 800.528.7280

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, DeSmet, South Dakota ~ tour a living history schoolhouse and tour other buildings brought to the museum site along with the final home on 3rd Street of Caroline and Charles Ingalls. The DeSmet cemetery is only a mile+ away as well as Laura and Almanzo’s first farm site, written about in The First Four Years

*Remember, everything had to be within walking distance though most folks had a horse and wagon ~ something that floored me when I went to DeSmet and saw how close everything was.

Sharing with
Share Your Style #199

Happy travel trails!

John Constable, Painter and the Pink Transferware

I began this post intending to discuss 
just about this set of china 
I have found instead 
that I am more inclined to talk about this 
china pattern’s inspiration: 
that being the famous 
British landscape painter 
from the Romantic period, 
John Constable.

The Constable Series Bicentennial ~ 1776-1976
series of china by J. Broadhurst Potters
was based on a painting by John Constable
“The Hay Wain”
located at the 
National Gallery in London, England.

This is the painting seen below.
If you click on the painting,
making it bigger brings out the details more.
He tended to paint stormy/cloudy skies and
a lot of his paintings were on the darker side
but they had
amazingly striking photographic qualities.

“The Hay Wain,” 1821, downloaded courtesy of The National Gallery, London.

John Constable (1776-1837) was born at East Bergholt, Suffolk County, England who seemingly grew up drawing and painting everything around him.  He was intended to take over his father’s business and did go to work for him for a year (transporting corn and coal up and down the River Stour), but his father knew this wasn’t his heart and he lovingly allowed John to bow out of the trade and to attend the Royal Academy in London to study painting.  

Constable’s vivid paintings were influenced greatly by how he saw landscapes and life as well as by a painting by Claude Lorrain titled “Hagar and the Angel.” Constable was fortunate enough to see this painting upon a chance meeting with Sir George Beaumont, an amateur painter himself. Beaumont apparently carried this painting wherever he went {he was considered to be rather eccentric, perhaps because of this} and would share this painting with anyone and everyone.

John Constable wasn’t much appreciated at the time by the art world of London.  Realistic landscapes were not en vogue as mythological landscapes and portraitures were the rage then, but Constable kept on with his paintings.  His oversize large canvases (6 footers) were painted displaying life very realistically. Their large size helped them to be noticed.  

An exhibition of several of his works in 1824 at the Paris Salon, including The Hay Wain (the one above), caught the attention of the French judges and he won a gold medal. His body of work was eventually recognized by the Royal Academy and at the age of 54 he was elected into the academy, he being the first to use classical brown tones and for painting in this realistic manner. Today John Constable is noted as one of Great Britain’s premier landscape painters.

“It is the soul that sees; the outward eyes 

Present the object, but the Mind descries. 

We see nothing till we truly understand it.”

 John Constable

For further information on John Constable, please visit these websites/essays:

1.  John Constable ~ an Essay, Elizabeth E. Barker, The Metropolitan Museum of Art 

2. The Biography of John Constable, The Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

3. John Constable, essay, Artble

I hope you have enjoyed this little biographical information about John Constable, as I have enjoyed learning about him and his life and sharing this information with you!  

I left out pertinent information, such as his marrying and having seven children, as it wasn’t relative to talking about the pink transferware china and how this china pattern came to be.  He created many, many paintings, sketches and drawings that he used to create his masterpieces and all of that can be found in the sources listed above.  The Victoria & Albert have the most extensive collection of Constable’s paintings and other art work  (over 350) donated by his youngest daughter before her death. 

I realize that my own drawings and photographs are greatly influenced by the romantic painters, although it has been up to now unconciously.  I am sure that I must have seen some of Constable’s paintings when I went to the V&A back during my trip to England in 2005.  Part of my quick Seven Hours in London… 🙂

Hopefully you will forgive me for not going into greater detail about his family life.  It is important as I always feel that family plays such an important role in who we are and how we create our artwork.  

And, I hope you have enjoyed my short writings
Blessings to you,
Barb 🙂