Reinventing the Historic House Museum is a one-day symposium is designed to offer current thinking, practical information, and solutions to the challenges facing historic sites. The Historic House Museum in America is not dead nor is it dying. The field, however, needs to take time to reflect and renew as the world around our historic homes continues to change. The symposium will include presentations by historic house game-changers and local historic site administrators, discussion, a boxed lunch, historic site visit, and a brainstorming workshop at a historic house museum to try out the new ideas proposed during the symposium.
Why should I attend?
Reinventing the Historic House Museum goes beyond basic questions about Historic Houses to delve deeper into core issues regarding relevance, funding, and preparing for the future.
Here are some of issues and challenges that participants from the previous workshop have discussed:
-How to use the house’s history to tell the larger story of the city and county, as well as the house.
-Moving town museum into a historic house, so how to interpret both the house/family and town collections? How to renovate the house for museum purposes.
-What are the best ways to preserve the collections when we have no environmental controls (tarnishing of silver, textiles, rugs, photographs)?
-How to raise funds to maintain buildings at a state-owned site.
-Finding new ways to interpret the house to keep it engaging and interesting.
-How to change community perceptions of the site/museum?
-Attracting funding, developing maintenance plans and building attendance at a very rural location.
-Balancing long-term thinking versus everyday demands.
-Balancing preservation/conservation with being more available/access/education.
-Need to take a look at the bigger picture of operations and management.
-How to educate the board about the challenges and needs of museums.
-How do I better prepare students for careers in museums (particularly historic sites)?
Who should attend?
Participants in this class have ranged from emerging professionals and volunteers, to academic historians and professionals nearing the end of their careers. All have seen the value in the class and have been able to implement change at their organizations. In short, anyone who is interested in developing the skills to make their historic house interpretation and management better for their audiences and their stakeholders should attend this workshop.
Onsite workshops allow participants to not only observe the great work other institutions are doing, but also gives them a chance to network with other museum professionals. Of those who choose to attend an AASLH workshop, many make career-long connections with people who are as passionate about the field as they are.
What You Ought to Know about Opportunities and Threats
Led by Max van Balgooy, Principal, Engaging Places, LLC
Historic house museums face numerous challenges but figuring out which ones are serious or benign, urgent or important, temporary or long-term, isn’t easy. Max van Balgooy will present his analysis of the most important Opportunities and Threats facing historic sites in America based on the latest social and economic research, with a discussion on how they may relate to your house museum.
Reinventing the Historic House Museum
Led by Ken Turino, Manager of Community Engagement and Exhibitions, Historic New England
The purpose of this session is to provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of the rewards and challenges facing historic house museums today. Historic sites are looking for creative and sustainable ways to make themselves relevant to their communities. What is very exciting now is that many sites have risen to this challenge using different models and ways of interpreting to look beyond traditional models. The presentation will look at specific ways and examples of how historic houses have engaged with their communities, implemented creative forms of interpretation and programming as well as ways to earn income all to become more sustainable.
Each event will also include the perspective of a local historic site administrator as well as an onsite experience session at a historic house museum.