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What was Hot in 2014 According to

As the Engaging Places blog enters its fourth year, it’s a chance to take a look back to see what’s attracted and intrigued our readers.  It’s now grown to about 350 posts and is viewed about 3,000 times each month.  This year, the most popular posts were (starting with the highest):

  1. HBR: The Truth About the Customer Experience (a discussion about “customer journey mapping” that was cross-posted on the AASLH blog)
  2. HBO CEO named Mt. Vernon CEO; A Step Backwards IMHO (still popular even though it was posted in 2012)
  3. Let’s Give SWOT a REST (and another popular post from 2012)
  4. IMLS’ Count of Museums in the US May Be Exaggerated (and prompted lots of comments, particularly about the data sources and methodology)
  5. Are Historic House Museums Adapting for the Future? (an announcement about the March 2014 Historic House Museum Symposium at Gunston Hall; btw, others are planned for New Hampshire and Georgia in 2015)
  6. Pushing the Period Room Beyond the Period at Hunter House (they look like period rooms, but they aren’t)
  7. Is Historic Preservation Ready to Preserve Culture as well as Architecture? (this post received a huge bump on December 3 thanks to Facebook)

Most readers came from the United States, although Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia were close behind.  It seems that readers are most interested in

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Video: The Future of History

In this 16:01 video, Kristen Gwinn-Becker asserts that there is a necessary—indeed, urgent—need to build easily accessible digital archives of our primary sources.  She says that,

As an historian, I understand there is a vast amount of historically valuable information to be processed, but I believe it is worth the effort to make that heritage digital and discoverable to the public.  As a technologist, I know that it is possible to make this happen.

Her presentation was given at TEDxDirigo and you may have met her at the AASLH annual meeting where she was discussing her company, HistoryIT.

Video: Long Beach Historical Society Cemetery Tour


City TV produced this 4:10 video documenting the Historical Society of Long Beach cemetery tour (“where every plot has a story”). Started in 1995, the Historical Society conducts its annual living history tour at the city’s two oldest cemeteries on the Saturday before Halloween.  It attracts about 600 people each fall and according to one visitor, “It’s not weird at all. . . .It’s a cool place to spend an afternoon.”  Admission is $25, $15 for members, $8 for students.

AASLH Annual Meeting Recap

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The AASLH Annual Meeting in St. Paul was a whirlwind for me, starting on Wednesday by stepping off the plane and heading directly into a five-hour Council meeting and then joining the evening reception at the Mill City Museum.  The rest of the week held the same pace with walking tours of St. Paul at 7 am (had to skip breakfast), educational sessions throughout the day, and chatting with colleagues over dinner.  It was great fun but it didn’t give me much time share on this blog what was happening during the conference.  I’ll talk about a couple sessions in more detail later, but here are a few highlights in the meantime: Continue reading

How Museums Can Optimize Revenue Through Dynamic Pricing

pricing-productsOptimizing revenue by increasing pricing for special exhibits or peak times (e.g. weekends) is widely adopted in the performing arts (e.g., matinee vs evening performances at the theater) but rarely used by museums.  A few museums, however, are beginning to experiment with dynamic or demand-based pricing to maximize their revenues.   For example, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art increased their price $2 for the last four weeks they were open before renovation began and received no complaints.  In 2008, the EMP Museum dropped its admission fee from $30 to $15 and it did not affect visitation, so in 2011 they increased prices and in 2013 they moved to 2013 to dynamic pricing. During the last 3 weeks, they earned an additional $15,000.

In “What Price is Right?”, a session at the recent AAM annual meeting, Heather Calvin (Museum of Science), Jill Robinson (TRG Arts), and Jessica Toon (EMP Museum) discussed how museums can use demand-based pricing strategies to set admission prices, service fees, discounts, and membership dues.  It was a wide-ranging presentation so I’m sharing the highlights here to Continue reading

The Most Popular Blog Posts for 2013 at

Your 2013 year in bloggingAs the Engaging Places blog enters its third year, it’s a chance to take a look back to see what’s attracted and intrigued our readers.  The busiest day for 2013 was June 25 when the post on Rethinking the “Do Not Touch” Sign went up and attracted nearly 550 views.  Of the 34,000 views for the year, the most popular posts were (starting with the highest):

  1. IMHO: Seismic Shifts Predicted in Historic Preservation (update: the National Trust moved to the Watergate after selling their HQ building; Preservation Action has moved from the National Building Museum to the Heurich House Museum; and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation is moving to the National Building Museum–it’s musical chairs in DC!)
  2. HBO CEO named Mt. Vernon CEO; A Step Backwards IMHO (still popular even though it was posted in 2012)
  3. Sequestration to Hit Smithsonian Collections
  4. Let’s Give SWOT a REST (and another popular post from 2012)
  5. NEA Survey Reveals Patterns in Historic Site Visitation
  6. Rethinking the Mission Statement

Most readers came from the United States, although Canada and the United Kingdom were close behind (with a total of 122 countries!).  It seems that readers are most interested in

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AASLH Meets in Birmingham

The American Association for State and Local History is holding its annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, attracting about 700 people from a variety of history organizations around the country.  The schedule is packed into three days and today started with an outstanding tour of the Civil Rights movement using historic sites around and the public art in Kelley Ingram Park.  We learned about the many people involved, the strategies and obstacles, using both local and national (sometimes even international) stories. A new sculpture was just installed to honor the children who were killed fifty years ago (four girls from a bombing of the church and two boys on the streets of Birmingham), now accompanying statues of Martin Luther King Jr., children facing fire hoses, and the famous walk-through sculpture of attacking police dogs.  I’ll be sharing more from the annual meeting in the following days, including a summary from the discussions on the relevance of history.  

Engaging Places blog on Vacation in August

One of the traditions in Washington, DC is a long vacation in August because it’s just too hot and humid to work.  Even though most offices, homes, and cars are now air conditioned, the tradition still holds (note that Congress recently adjourned until September) and we’ll be observing it here as well.  There won’t be any posts unless something incredibly interesting happens and we’ll focus on sweeping out spam, refreshing pages, and perhaps even get around to a little remodeling.  We’ll be back again after Labor Day with the usual 2-3 posts each week, so it’s a good time to subscribe so you don’t miss the news when it comes out again this fall.  Thanks for your continued support and interest this year and we look forward to seeing you in a few weeks.

Video: History Summer Camp in China

This 4:49 video is titled, “Dailian History Summer Camp” but I can’t figure out what’s going on.  The music is bubbly but the scenes make no sense:  children playing basketball in kimonos, performances of Korean traditional music, song and dance numbers, jumping rope, and a visit to a historic POW camp (including weapons and torture devices).  I can’t even figure out if the titles are written in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, but it looks like they’re have a good time (the opening titling is a bit long, so you might want to skip to 0:30).      Can anyone translate this and share what’s going on?  Thank you all.