This Massachusetts Museum Is Celebrating the 400th Anniversary of Thanksgiving With a New Exhibit

Plimoth Patuxet Museums' commemoration of the 1621 meal opens on Sept. 25.

The feast that started one of America's most celebrated traditions marks its 400th anniversary this year — and to commemorate the first Thanksgiving in 1621, Plimoth Patuxet Museums in Plymouth, Massachusetts, will open a new exhibition this Friday, according to the Associated Press.

Called "We Gather Together: Thanksgiving, Gratitude, and the Making of an American Holiday," the new exhibit aims to help visitors "better understand the events that led to the First Thanksgiving" by looking at the relationship between the Indigenous people and English colonists. It will showcase rarely seen artifacts, as well as art that follows how the colonial dinner turned into a national holiday in the 19th century, the AP reported.

A group of children inside at Plimoth Patuxet Museums
Tim Turner, a Cherokee Indian and museum educator, sits inside a nush weetu at the Hobbamock Homesite as a group of children listen to him explain the animal skins inside at Plimoth Patuxet Museums, formerly known as Plimoth Plantation, in Plymouth, MA on Nov. 5, 2020. Despite the pandemic, the Plimoth Patuxet is welcoming visitors this Thanksgiving season. John Tlumacki/Getty Images

"Plymouth/Patuxet is the place where the ancient traditions of gratitude in both the Indigenous and European cultures merged in the autumn of 1621, and a new holiday of gathering and giving thanks for the countless blessings in life began," the museum says on its site, describing the upcoming display.

The anniversary exhibit is just one way that Plimoth Patuxet Museums — which uses the old-fashioned spelling from Governor William Bradford's "Of Plymouth Plantation" — is commemorating the holiday. It will also host its annual Thanksgiving Day Homestyle Buffet ($84 for adults, $54 for children under 12), as well "The Story of Thanksgiving" Dinner with role players to greet guests on Nov. 25 (sold out) and Nov. 26 ($114 for adults, $60 for children under 12). The museum will also offer a New England Harvest Feast on select dates from Oct. 9 through Nov. 27, with entertainment over a 17th-century meal that includes "a dish of turkey, sauc'd" and "a chine of pork, roast'd."

A woman removes corn kernels in her home in Pilgrim Village at Plimoth Patuxet Museums
Kathleen Wall, who portrays Zara Godbertson, removes corn kernels in her home in Pilgrim Village at Plimoth Patuxet Museums, formerly known as Plimoth Plantation, in Plymouth, MA on Nov. 5, 2020. John Tlumacki/Getty Images

Throughout the year, Plimoth Patuxet Museums uses "powerful personal experiences of history" to tell "the stories of the Wampanoag people and the English colonists who created a new society — in collaboration and in conflict — in the 1600s," the museum said in a release. The Smithsonian Institution Affiliate site, located less than an hour south of Boston, includes the Mayflower, Patuxet Wampanoag Homesite, 17th-century English Village, and Plimoth Grist Mill.

"We have so much to be thankful for as we celebrate the 400th anniversary of the First Thanksgiving, when the Pokanoket Wampanoag and Plymouth colonists came together after a season of diplomacy to share a harvest feast in the fall of 1621," the museum says on its site. "Join us now and through this autumn for a host of special activities, events, and exhibits on how this history — and the deeply human expression of gratitude that inspired it — continues to impact us today."

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