House museums are complex organizations but one of the most effective tools for navigating this complexity is the humble mission statement. In this 30-minute webinar, Erin Carlson Mast, president and CEO of President Lincoln’s Cottage in Washington, DC, discusses how she’s leveraged the values embedded in their mission statement to transform their community programs and daily operations to affect the lives of their visitors. She’ll be interviewed by Max A. van Balgooy (me!), co-editor of the recently published Reimagining Historic House Museumsand president of Engaging Places.
The webinar is today (Thursday,April 23, 2020) at 3:00 – 3:30 pm Eastern (that’s 12 noon Pacific) and registration is free to AASLH Members and $30 Nonmembers. This webinar will be recorded and will be available in the AASLH Resource Center after the event has passed. Registrants of this event receive complimentary access to the recording in their Dashboard.
This webinar is part of the Historic House Call webinar series. Organized by the committee of the AASLH Historic House Affinity Community, Historic House Call webinars provide staff and volunteers working in historic house museums the chance to hear from a leading expert on a topic related to historic sites and ask questions about that topic. Historic House Calls are presented quarterly at no charge for AASLH members.
Amidst the tidal wave of museum layoffs and closures, many independent consultants and freelance workers are struggling to stay afloat. As Anne Ackerson writes in The COVID-19 Impact on Museum Consulting, “These are the people who work independently across the field in collections, education, governance, art handling and more. They work from job to job, shouldering the full costs of benefits, building careers while offering services many museums and heritage organizations need, but can’t afford on a full-time basis.” What does the future, both short- and long-term, look like for consultants in the museum field? Join Anne Ackerson, Dina Bailey, and Max van Balgooy to discuss unique challenges facing consultants as they consider envisioning new paths or staying the course. American Association for State and Local History is hosting this conversation on Thursday, April 16 (today!) at 3:00 pm Eastern (sorry, we’re moving rapidly to respond to COVID-19). Registration is $10, $5 for AASLH members; and if you are an organization, consultant, or student that is facing financial strain due to COVID-19, please use promo code FREEWBR20 to waive the registration fee for this conversation. Register here.
I’ll be on the panel to open the discussion with examples from Engaging Places but we’ll be emphasizing a conversation with the attendees gather perspectives from across the nation to understand where things are now and where they might (or should) be going.
Discuss strategies to improve history education in our schools with people coming at it from different perspectives on Tuesday, July 7 at 12 noon (Eastern) in a Google Hangout co-hosted by the National Assessment Governing Board and the American Historical Association. It’s in response to the latest results of the Nation’s Report Card, which shows that many students lack a strong understanding of our nation’s history (as seen in the chart, scores have been flat for the past twenty years, and the conversation will explore ways that students can become more engaged and informed. Hmm, can historic sites and house museums play a role?
Jim Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association
Chasidy White, history and geography teacher at Brookwood (Ala.) Middle School and member of the National Assessment Governing Board
Judith Gradwohl, MacMillan associate director for education and public engagement at the National Museum of American History
Libby O’Connell, chief historian at the History channel
Frank Valadez, executive director of the Chicago Metro History Education Center
and the conversation will be moderated by Jessica Brown, contributing writer at Education Week.
Bedroom at Liberty Hall Museum, Kean University, New Jersey.
If historic house museums are historic sites that primarily educational (not commercial) in purpose, how would they be different if they were managed by educational institutions? “University-Affiliated Historic House Museums,” a report by the John Nicholas Brown Center at Brown University may provide some answers. Prepared for the 1772 Foundation by Hillary Brady, Steven Lubar, and Rebecca Soules, the report examines the issues facing historic house museums that are owned or operated by colleges and universities based on a survey of existing practices at ten sites. Offering recommendations for “new ways to make these museums more useful to the university community,” it concludes with a half dozen alternatives for the Liberty Hall Museum at Kean University, which might be applicable to sites that are not affiliated with universities (swap “campus” and “students” with “community” and “residents”). By the way, the Center is hosting an intriguing colloquium in May 2015 on “lost museums“.
In 1949, Congress created the National Trust for Historic Preservation to Continue reading →
In this 5:17 video, author David McCullough shares the five most important ideas high school students should learn before graduating (and it’s not memorizing dates and quotations). This was recorded by CSPAN at the 2011 National Book Festival.
1. Who are you and what do you like about blogging?
I’m the president of Engaging Places, LLC, a design and strategy firm that connects people to historic places. I love visiting and working with museums and historic sites, so the blog allows me to Continue reading →
Take a break today and be inspired by this video on the Mast Brothers, a small chocolate maker in Brooklyn. It’s a combination of craft, history, and biography in a well produced short film by The Scout. For historic sites that interpret processes past or present, such as food production, building construction, archaeology, or historical research, this might be an engaging approach.
Session on Interpreting African American history and culture, AASLH annual meeting, 2012
Last September, I had the privilege of moderating a session on interpreting African American history at historic sites in a room filled with some of the smartest people in the field during the annual meeting of the American Association for State and Local History. The panelists–George McDaniel, Pam Green, David Young, and Tanya Bowers–gave outstanding opening remarks but even more engaging was the discussion that followed with the audience. Because African American history can be a sensitive topic and to demonstrate a way to confront these issues among a group of strangers, I used a technique drawn from Great Tours (page 117). Each person in the audience was given a 3×5 card and was asked to anonymously complete the sentence, “I would feel more comfortable talking about African American culture and history if…” Among the responses I received were: Continue reading →
Terri Anderson is swapping history collections for art when she joins the Corcoran Gallery of Art next week as a Contract Registrar to help them migrate their collections database from Filemaker to TMS (The Museum System). For the past five years, she has focused her work on collections management at the 29 National Trust Historic Sites as the John and Neville Bryan Director of Collections at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, where she also taught collections management for George Washington University and became one of the national leaders on the challenges of deaccessioning collections at historic sites. With this transition, I thought it would be a good time to capture some of her thoughts about managing collections at historic sites.
Max: You’ve been managing the collections of the National Trust for the last five years–what have been the major successes?
Terri: Our most visible successes were opening several Sites to the public for the first time, including the Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut; President Lincoln’s Cottage in Washington, DC; and Villa Finale in San Antonio, Texas. Each of these Site openings required many important decisions about collections stewardship and access, and each Site demanded a different approach: one size did not fit all.
At the same time, we had successes that, while less visible, were important to me and the parties involved. We did a lot of great work with thoughtful, appropriate deaccessions at several of our Sites. I wrote about our experiences in Continue reading →