Although guided tours of period rooms is the most common form of interpretation at historic sites, audio tours, video tours, and virtual tours are growing in popularity thanks to technologies that are lowering the cost of production and increasing access to new audiences. From a short list of examples, the students in my “historic site interpretation” class at George Washington University developed a list of ten best practices for different types of tours of historic sites. You’ll discover that many of their suggestions emphasize the need for a plan, themes, and a focus–and projects that failed to have these elements were weaker and less effective.
A. Guided Tours of Period Rooms
- “Historic House Furnishings Plans” by Bradley Brooks in Jessica Donnelly’s Interpretation of Historic Sites (2002)
- “I Wish You Could Take a Peek at Us” by Nancy Bryk in Donnelly (2002)
- “Guidelines for Preparing Historic Furnishings Reports: an Annotated Sample of Contents” by the National Park Service (retrieved September 2, 2012)
- “When Values Collide: Furnishing Historic Interiors” by Carol Petravage in Preservation of What, for Whom? edited by Michael Tomlan (National Council for Preservation Education, 1999), pp. 151-158.
- “Historic Furnishings Report: William Johnson House” (NPS, 2004).
Suggested Best Practices
- Develop an interpretive plan and themes
- Consult primary sources for the property
- Decide whether to have reproduction or original pieces Continue reading