About Us

Engaging:  attracting, delighting, pleasing to the eye or mind

Place:  spot, seat, space, site, neighborhood

EngagingPlaces.net is about making places that delight the eye and mind.  Ideas, opinions, interviews, best and future practices are continually presented through regular blog posts.  

Engaging Places, LLC is a design and strategy firm that connects people and historic places.  We work with historic sites, museums, non-profit organizations, and cultural institutions build capacity, improve visitation, increase support, and engage communities by assessing current performance and conditions; conducting audience research and program evaluation; providing benchmark and measurable outcomes; designing practical strategies and business plans; and training staff, volunteers, and boards.  We’ve worked with places as small as a one-room schoolhouse and as big as a city, as venerable as a National Historic Landmark and as new as a site still under development, as physical as a Main Street and as intangible as a blog.  All of these places can engage the community through an appropriate mix of education, design, and fun that’s based on careful research, planning, and execution.  It’s a complex blend, but we can help.

We don’t keep our processes a secret or make you dependent on our services.  We don’t provide assessments that determine we’re the only ones who can help.  We don’t require contracts with long-term commitments or in-sourcing.  Instead, we will give you the knowledge and resources to develop your staff, board, and organization so that it can perform effectively and efficiently without us.  We will help you become an organization that continually learns through planning, implementing, and evaluating as a team.  We bill by the project, not by the hour, so you know exactly what to budget for the value received.  If we’re successful, we’ll put ourselves out of business.

Engaging Places, LLC is:

  • Max A. van Balgooy, President.  One of the national leaders in historical interpretation and community engagement, with extensive experience in developing solutions in collaboration with volunteers, staff, trustees, residents, scholars, design professionals, business leaders, and elected officials.  Recognized researcher, author, and speaker on the trends, challenges, and opportunities facing museums, historic sites, and cultural organizations.  A skilled facilitator and knowledgeable consultant for developing plans for business strategy, historical interpretation, public programming, marketing, and online media.  For more details, read his profile, check out the projects, and connect with him on LinkedIn.
  • Mary A. van Balgooy, Vice President.  Award-winning public historian and accomplished non-profit executive who has worked in a variety of institutions, including archives, botanic gardens, geography, historic houses, historical societies, museums, preservation organizations, universities, and governmental agencies at city, county, and federal levels in all types of positions including administration, board governance, fundraising, collections, education, preservation, and public relations. Her historical research focuses on the 19th and 20th-century history of women in the United States. For more details, read Mary’s profile and connect with her on LinkedIn.
  • Quick one-page company profile and three project profiles: Caramoor, Haas-Lilienthal House, and the Molly Brown House.

To discuss your project, contact Max van Balgooy at Engaging Places, LLC:

  • 313 Twinbrook Parkway, Rockville, Maryland 20851
  • (301) 412-7940
  • Max.vanBalgooy@EngagingPlaces.net