We are currently in a Droughtlander. That’s the term fans of the television show “Outlander” have coined to define the timeframe between when a season ends and when the next batch of new episodes begins.
The Starz show, based on the popular book series by Diana Gabaldon, follows Claire Beauchamp Randall, a World War II nurse who accidentally travels back in time through a stone circle to 1743 Scotland where she meets the love of her life, James MacKenzie Fraser.
Season two wrapped up in July 2016 and it was more than a year later that season three premiered in September 2017 with the finale airing in early December. Season four is currently being filmed, but no release date has been announced.
But the Droughtlander for fans is real. Very real. To remind them of their favorite characters, the Gaithersburg Community Museum is hosting the perfect exhibit through March 3. “The Artifacts of Outlander” presents the similarities between the fantasy/historical fiction series/books and life in Maryland during the same time.
The exhibit was created in April 2015 by the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory, part of the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in St. Leonard and has been touring the state at libraries and museums ever since.
MAC Lab curator Sara Rivers-Cofield notes the idea for the exhibit came from former MAC Lab Conservator Caitlyn Shaffer. The two often listened to audiobooks while working with artifacts. The Outlander series was one they listened to and discussed. Shaffer one day suggested they should do an exhibit.
Pulling from 30 archaeological sites across the state, about 200 pieces are on display alongside pictures from the show. “Bonny Wee Baubles” shows a picture of Randall on her wedding day along with artifacts that brides would have worn during the same time frame in Maryland. “Buttons, Buckles and Blades” showcases men’s accessories with a picture of Fraser while Claire’s Surgery features items used for medicinal purposes including small vials.
“You can really envision the artifacts as they were and were used instead of just seeing these little pieces and thinking ‘Oh. That’s from that time. That’s kind of neat’,” said Nansie Heimer Wilde, Gaithersburg Community Museum’s facility manager. “This area of Gaithersburg wasn’t settled quite that early although there were people here. There were settlements, but the people probably lived much like the period being discussed.”
Folks also can look through an exhibit catalogue that provides in-depth information on the archaeological sites and artifacts.
Wilde has not seen the television show, but is reading the first book in the series. “I am sucked in,” she joked. “I am hooked.”
She enjoys the exhibit because it offers insights into how people lived during the period. “Maryland and Scotland both were economic assets to England and both were relying on English goods and probably were very, very similar during that period,” Wilde said. “Anytime you bring history to (people) and you get people excited about looking at some little fragment and realizing it was something important, it is fun.”
The exhibit focuses solely on “Outlander,” the first book in the series and first season of the show. The second book, “Dragonfly in Amber,” and the second season moved the story to France, which did not provide a local connection. In season three (spoiler alert), the couple end up shipwrecked in Georgia, corresponding with the end of the third book, “Voyager.” Rivers-Cofield noted the exhibit has not been expanded to depict their trials and tribulations in America that occur in subsequent books in the series.
And for those who love Fraser — more specifically the actor who plays him (Sam Heughan), a special treat is in order. There is a life-size cut-out of him in full costume as Jamie, so get those selfie faces ready. He will be standing by, ready to smoulder.
The Gaithersburg Community Museum, 9 Summit Ave., Gaithersburg, is hosting “The Artifacts of Outlander,” a traveling exhibit from the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory, part of Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, through March 3. Hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. Admission is free.
In conjunction with the exhibit, the museum will host an Archaeological Discovery Day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24, featuring hands-on activities for all ages including tin-smithing, marble making, seed identification and ceramic mending. Rod Cofield, Director of Historic London Town and Gardens, will guide patrons, 21 and older, through “Colonial Taverns: Spirits of the Chesapeake,” a history of inns and taverns that dotted the Chesapeake region during the 18th century, on Friday, March 2. Tastings will start at 7 p.m., and the talk at 7:30. Admission is $10. Register online. Visit www.gaithersburgmd.gov or call 301-258-6160.