Coggeshall Farm Museum is a living history farm set on 48 acres in Bristol, Rhode Island. The museum depicts Bristol's agrarian life in the year 1799 through live interpretation, historic structures, and heirloom plants and animals.
Interpreters dressed in accurate reproduction clothing carry out the same tasks practiced on Rhode Island's coastal tenant farms during the Federal Period. As the weather and seasons change, so too does the work, following a continuous cycle of birth, raising, and eventual harvest. Visitors to the museum encounter a New England farm at work in the years following one revolution-the war that brought independence from Great Britain-and leading up to a second-the Industrial Revolution- on the cusp of major social and technological change that would usher in new ways of understanding agriculture and the world.
The museum utilizes its entire 48 acre site as an educational environment. Visitors experience the past using all of their senses and are invited to assist the farmers with their work. The museum's collection is focused on process, not objects, and those who are willing may find meaning in the past through hands-on learning.
As an active, working restoration of a late 18th century farm, the museum is uniquely equipped to offer insight to a broad audience. By maintaining true relationships between different aspects of the farm through accurate restoration, reconstruction, and use, the museum attempts to illustrate the complexities of life in pre-industrial Rhode Island. Presented with a working historic model of alternative methods and attitudes towards ways of life and work, visitors may come away from their experience better able to contextualize current issues such as consumerism and environmental sustainability.