Village Books and Gifts

   One of the strategic priorities of Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) is Education. It is important to us that our guests, regardless of age or ethnicity, learn about history, be it Mennonite history or pioneer history, when they visit our museum.

   Our education program which typically hosts about 4000 students annually is one of our major means of achieving this strategic priority. The exhibits in the galleries and in the out-door village, and our festival events also serve to educate our guests. Perhaps a less obvious teaching venue at MHV is Village Books and Gifts, our gift shop. On the surface it may appear to be exclusively a revenue source.

   While Village Books and Gifts is a revenue source, it also provides numerous educational initiatives. The most obvious one would be the sale of books. Most of our books cover Mennonite subject matter of one kind or another or are written by authors connected to the Mennonite world. The most obvious example would be our own volume, A Collected History: Mennonite Heritage Village, a souvenir of the museum and a portable exhibit.

   The recently released Historical Atlas of the East Reserve is another example of educational books that are available in our gift shop. This book provides much historical information about the former East Reserve by way of maps, photographs and narratives. Mennonite Girls Can Cook, both the original volume and the Celebrations edition, have educated many cooks and will continue to do so.

   Village Books and Gifts also sells DVDs and music CDs, many of which focus on music that has been and continues to be meaningful to Mennonites. Recordings by Canzona recall many older German choral works that were popular in our churches in the past. Eduard Klassen’s offerings with his Paraguayan Harp reflect the worship experiences of many Mennonites who settled in Paraguay, beginning in the 1920s. These and many other unique recordings are available in our gift shop.

   Menno Apparel has been a popular item in the store this year. Tee-shirts with slogans that reflect Russian Mennonite culture or juxtapose it with an element of pop culture have drawn considerable attention. Some examples would be, “The Duecks of Hazard” or “Make Borsht, not Bombs.”

   The Crokinole board is a game that was found in many Russian Mennonite homes and is still taken quite seriously by some. It and other old fashioned toys are available in our gift shop providing many with a connection to their past and giving many younger people a taste of life in former days.

   While games, toys, and tee-shirts with slogans on them may not be profound teaching tools, they clearly present opportunities for people to tell stories from their past. And isn’t story telling one of the most effective teaching tools?

   These items and others are available at Village Books and Gifts. The store is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

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About the Author

Barry is the Executive Director of the Mennonite Heritage Village. While he does not consider himself to be a historian, he places a high value on the preservation and interpretation of the Mennonite and pioneer stories that help people of all ages understand and appreciate their heritage. Learn more about the MHV.

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