Aug 312014

Museum house rooms

Imagine living in the places and time periods depicted in museums

When I visit museums with reconstructions of period rooms and when I tour restored homes and palaces, I often imagine what it would be like to live in that place and time.

Beaulieu Palace House

Imagine the fun entertaining at Beaulieu Palace House in England’s New Forest in Victorian times.

Dalnavert dining room

I can picture myself in a long gown being served a several course dinner at Dalnavert,
Winnipeg home of the Macdonald family from 1895 – 1929.

Dalnavert kitchen

But I suspect my fate, had I been around in the late 1800s, would have put me working in the kitchen.


O'odham kitchen in Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden

Although I prefer the conveniences of my modern kitchen, the Dalnavert kitchen might be easier to work in than an O’odham kitchen, shown here as a replica in Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden


Dalnavert atrium

Sometimes I imagine the space transformed to modern times. Wouldn’t this atrium Mrs. Macdonald used to entertain afternoon women visitors make a wonderful office?

Gabrielle Roy house dining

Small spaces work well in the past and in the present. The walls of Gabrielle-Roy House in Winnipeg’s St. Boniface area are painted colours authentic to what would
have been in the house during the early 1900s. The colour scheme would work in contemporary decor.


Nevis former plantation

Former plantation on the Caribbean island of Nevis. Imagine breakfast on the verandah or sitting out in the evening watching the sunset and being serenaded by tree frogs.

Chattel house

Contrast life at the plantation great house with the chattel houses of slave families.

St. Boniface Museum bedroom

Period room at the St. Boniface Museum illustrating life in the Red River Settlement in the early 1900s. The bed doesn’t look very comfortable – I prefer my current bedroom

St. Boniface Museum dining room

But the dining room is inviting


Scottsdale Historical Museum

Parlor at Scottsdale Historical Museum. Looks like an area for proper, straight-backed conversation, not kick-back lounging.

Gaudi apartment

I can picture myself living in this spacious Modernisme apartment in Antoni Gaudi’s Casa Mila in Barcelona.

What museum room or restored residence do you imagine yourself living in?

PIN ITDo you ever imagine what it would be like to live in some of the places depicted in museums you visit?

  56 Responses to “Museum Musings: Could I Live There?”

  1. Fun article. You’re right: although we like to think we could live in one of the very upscale homes, chances of that are very slim. More likely it would be one with few conveniences. Still, it’s fun to dream.

  2. Nice pictures. Maybe you are better off not knowing? Jerusalem (in Israel) has a long and interesting history. But seriously we would not want to take part in it, or even observe it What the Islamic State is doing today has been done there for thousands of years by Christian, Muslim and Jewish warriors.

    • We can look at the period rooms and try to imagine life at the time, but I suspect you are right in many cases – the way of life may have things we’d rather not be part of.

  3. What fun to imagine. I often wonder if I was born in the wrong time period and country. I more see myself in a countryside with cobblestone streets in a much simpler time. Although, I’ve grown accustomed to the luxury of electricity and would need that in whichever museum room I was transported back to.

  4. Hi Donna; I can’t say that I ever pictured myself in any of the historic places I visited. Usually it was part of a school day and was just happy not to be in class all day long. the trip to the farm was one of my favorites. I think if it comes down to it I’m more of a modern conveniences kind of person. take care, max

  5. Coco Chanel’s house! It is fabulous! Love these kind of homes!

  6. Hi Donna, you have just shown me the perfect room – the kitchen in the McDonald house. I could totally move in there tomorrow – don’t imagine they had hydro or did they? Totally enjoyed your pictures and your comments.

    • Lenie, the Macdonald house did have electricity (supplied by the Hudson’s Bay Generating Company, which no longer exists). It was built in 1895 and had all the “modern” conveniences: electricity, coal boiler, hot running water, an intercom system, and telephone.

  7. When I look at all the stuff in some of these restored rooms, the first thing I think of is that I would probably knock something over every time I moved. I’m sure they weren’t really that busy and that the museum is just trying to show all its stuff.

    • I don’t know whether the rooms were that “busy”, but I do know that in many cases (except for the palace and manor houses), the rooms were small by today’s standards.They may have seemed “busy”.

  8. Great photos! I can totally see myself hanging out with my gal pals in Mrs. Macdonald’s atrium. The O’odham outdoor kitchen not so much!

  9. Whenever I visit Paris’ Musée Jacquemart André I think that I could imagine living there…it’s just the right size, accessible, and of course SO beautifully decorated! Dream on…

  10. That was a fun tour Donna, I also pretend to be a guest visiting this home during that timeframe….did that tour of the Mila home and I loved going through that moderisme apartment in Barcelona

  11. I could move right into the Gaudi apartment with very few changes. It’s fun to imagine what it would be like to live in the grand homes, but, like you, I’m fairly sure my station would have been downstairs rather than up. Have you been to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville? Even the kitchen wing is outrageously grand and quite modernized for its time, so we would have enjoyed ourselves. 😉

  12. Hey Donna, loved the way you swung my imagination. From picture to picture I had my imagination move and I have a strong imagination. And you did it quite comically. I will have that breakfast at the former plantation on the Caribbean island of Nevis.

  13. What a creative post! Hard to imagine myself back in the past. I’m more likely to fantasize living in a luxury hotel in Paris:-)

  14. Quite happy that I don’t have to live during Victorian times – must have been quite “on the nose”: no showers, but lots of powdering to cover the dirt. 😀 Honestly: I guess we all got so used to our modern comforts: nice clean bathrooms, hopping into our car to quickly go somewhere, Internet, etc.

  15. Hello .
    It was very nice post with amazing pictures.
    With each coming picture I was imagining my self almost in the same way u have written. But I was amazed to see that old stove in kitchen. I think they were using wood in that. Its really hard to cook on wood as still in Kashmir we have tradition to cook on wood in few homes and I have seen how women burn in warmth. I really like the way you have uploaded slaves home in peak heaven to show the comparison of living in spacious homes , enjoy all facilities and live in a small home.
    This also make me wonder why they have closed Winnipeg home????
    I thank God for every blessing.

  16. A picture is worth a million or two words. What a wonderful pictorial blog, Donna! Thank you. Do you have pinterest? I hope so. 🙂 It looks like you have travelled. Have you heard of or been to the Jorvik museum in York, England? No wonder the line-ups are immense, given how amazing the place is. You get into a little “train” that takes you backwards in time from the 20th Century. Not only do you see living spaces but also real life replicas of people with accompanying sounds and smells. 🙂 Your blog reminded me of this place and how it engaged my imagination with “would I ever wanted to have lived there?” thoughts.

  17. I often wonder the same thing at museums, it’s fun to imagine. But then I realize that I’d be terrified to live with all of those fabulous antiques.

  18. That is a great article. It does make you think, how it would be to live in an era, but the contrast between the different economic social statuses you might have.

  19. Could I live there?… if it were an up to-date with bathrooms and a great kitchen, maybe… LOL. Regardless your post does make you think. I love to visit museums like this too. It shows us so much, especially the contrast between the haves and have nots at that time. 🙂

  20. This is a fun article Donna! I love to imagine what it would be like to live in the different countries I visit or even in different times. Although it’s more likely I would find myself in the kitchen, I picture myself wearing a gown and being served in the formal dining room, la de da!

  21. Oh yes, I play this game all the time. I really had fun when I was at the Chicago Art Museum a couple of years ago and spent a good deal of time looking at the collection of miniature scale model rooms that were on display in the museum’s basement. My favorite place to imagine myself in have been a couple of ghost towns I’ve visited in the West.

    • I had fun this past winter looking at the Thorne miniature rooms at the Phoenix Art Museum, but I believe that is a much smaller collection than is at the Chicago art museum so I can imagine spending a fair bit of time there.

  22. Very creative post and beautiful images; I imagine if I can just rewind it back and see the world in O’odham kitchen – no hassle, no fuse, a place where you have just your pot and you to think of.

    The world has giving us more sophisticated life and also comes along with it a very bigger worries to manage.

    Thanks Donna, this post is well to it.

    • Thanks. We have a lot more conveniences now, but perhaps you are right and we have bigger worries too. However, I don’t think I would like to be cooking in the O’odham kitchen.

  23. Donna, I love the fireplace in the Beaulieu Palace House. A person could be warmed from head to toe with that one.

  24. Donna: This is a super clever post! I have been to Gaudi’s apartment – everything he created intrigues me. I am a creature of comfort and want to stay in this century. 🙂

  25. I could be happy in Mrs. Mcdonald’s atrium. Bring on the tea!

  26. I do the same thing Donna when I am traveling around and see old houses from colonial times in Asia. I always wonder and let my imagination take me away. When I was a tour guide in Europe I would do the same and try and get my passengers to imagine themselves at the Roman Forum and the like, togas and all.

  27. I don’t think I imagine myself living there when I visit historic homes, but I do try to imagine the lives of the people who did live there. We visited a house in Dublin that started with a film told from the points of view of various members of the household, starting with the scullery maid. It was a very effective.

    • That is an interesting way to start a tour. The different points of view would be very effective. I imagine it made you look at the rooms in a different way than if you had not had that perspective.

  28. I also love to imagine if I could or would want to live in those museum re-created homes. They didn’t have lazy boy lounges or mattresses that dial your comfort. Okay, I will stick with just viewing and enjoy my comfortable home.

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