It was really the kids who wanted to go into this one. They love all the spooky rooms wax museums have. Without enthusiasm, I was lead into the Salem Wax Museum. The cost was $6 per adult and $4 per child. This museum does have a prime Salem location; right next door to the old burying point. You can't help feeling sorry for someone whose final resting place is in the shadow of a tacky wax museum.
The entire museum is one room giving the history of Salem.
There are a few displays of early sea merchants who ran the sea trade from the Salem harbor. Of course you have the whole witch trial thing played out with great fanfare. Once again, I felt that this tragic period in American history was being commercialized, and a few people were turning a profit from innocent people who were hung here over 300 years ago.
The museum didn't even do a good job with it. The displays were very overdone and looked more like mannequins with bad colonial clothing. Some characters were even missing a few digits. One display had the central figure removed for repairs.
The one saving grace for our admission was downstairs. Downstairs there is a small gift shop full of more witch knick-knacks, all made in China. However, on one wall, you can do tombstone rubbings. The rubbings are like the ones you can do in the great cathedrals of Europe. You take a piece of paper and a piece of hard charcoal and rub. We did several of these here and the kids were intrigued with the whole process and the tombstone themselves.
The other activity downstairs is some rope and some instruction on how to tie the old knots that sailors would use to tie the knots on their ships. We tried a few knots. We weren't very good, but we had fun trying.
The other thing they do downstairs is make a wax mold of your hand and part of your arm. It costs an extra fee and there was a line to do it. The kids wanted to make casts of their hands, until we wondered how on earth we would travel for the next two weeks, carry around these fragile hand and arms molds, and get them home to California. We opted to watch others do it and worry about getting them home safe and sound.
If it was just the museum, I would say, without hesitation, to just skip it. It's not worth it. However, the downstairs saved the day. We had some great family time doing the stone rubbings, tying knots, and watching other people make casts of their hands in wax. The real fun is downstairs.
September 25, 2004
From journal Salem - More than just witches.