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Gwinnett exhibit offers a global view of homes
The “Your House, My House” exhibit at the Gwinnett County Government Environmental and Heritage Center seeks to give families a broader perspective about what makes a house a home, such as this replica m’bure from the tropics of Fiji. Upon arriving, visitors can select from a map which homes to tour. - photo by BRANDEE A. THOMAS

‘Your house, my house'

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, through April 16
Where: Gwinnett County Government Environmental and Heritage Center 2020 Clean Water Dr., Buford
Cost: Admission to the center ranges from $3.50 to $10.50. Children 2 years old and younger are admitted free, as are the center's members. Membership is open to everyone, not just Gwinnett County residents.
More info: 770-904-3500, or click here.

More than likely, you refer to that place where you retire at the end of the day as your home.

However, if you lived in Mongolia, you might call it a "ger," or a "m'bure if you lived in Fiji.

The new "Your House, My House" exhibit at the Gwinnett County Government Environmental and Heritage Center seeks to give families a broader perspective about what makes a house a home.

"It's a very educational, very fun, very interactive exhibit," said Jason West, the center's director of development.

"It showcases three model homes from three different countries."

One of the homes on display is the Mongolian ger.

"A lot of the people in the Mongolian culture are herders, so they are constantly moving their animals from place to place. They have to be able to pack up their home and move it to the next location," West said.

In addition to a life-sized version that families can walk inside and get an idea of what life is like for these nomadic families, kids can also try their hand at deconstructing their own ger.

"We have a smaller version that kids can take apart and practice packing it up and putting it on a camel's back for relocating," West said.

"This helps a younger person understand that whereas their house is going to be there, this house comes apart easily and can be moved."

Inside the larger ger, visitors also get a chance to see examples of instruments, tools and other items that a real Mongolian family would have.

Inside the m'bure, a woven home from Fiji, visitors get the opportunity to not only try out weaving themselves, they also can compare the home to others on display.

"Although the ger has a stove inside for cooking, there is no kitchen in this house," West said.

"We discovered that this culture would build a (fire) pit outside, put whole pieces of meat on it, cover it with banana leaves and do their cooking that way."

In addition to observing cultures' architecture, visitors have the opportunity to build their own log cabin, draw their dream home on paper at a drafting table, or use mini-bricks to construct a dwelling.

They can also create a computer-generated home.

On certain days, the center hosts special presentations that help visitors get an even better idea about what daily life is like in different parts of the world.

For instance, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, visitors will have an opportunity to learn more about the life of Mongol shepherds during the "Mongolia: A Slice of the Steppes" presentation. In addition to a unique, winter hike there will also be special Mongolian craft projects for children.

The cost of the Mongolian experience is included in the general admission to the center, which includes admission to all of the exhibits. 

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