For the last decade there has been much talk about “repurposing” historic house museums for new uses or users because some just are not financially sustainable. Virtually every national and some state history conferences over the years have had at least one panel session about this topic.

It has been seven years since the second Kykuit Summit on Historic Site Stewardship in the 21st Century and the publication of New Solutions for House Museums, but what have we actually learned about the process of change to permit repurposing historic sites for new uses or users?

In that same period, there have been several state government owners of historic sites have been forced, due to draconian budget cuts, to make choices about which sites to retain in their portfolios. But why has there been so little fundamental change –so little “repurposing”–at nonprofit owned historic house museums? Why is the conversation with board members about change so hard?

This Historic House Call will talk about this dilemma and offer some suggestions about talking about change with your board and staff at your historic site, based on Harvard Business School professor John Kotter’s book A Sense of Urgency.

Donna Ann Harris of Heritage Consulting Inc. will lead this online webinar discussion and provide some examples of some historic sites that have talked about change and provide ample time for questions and discussion by participants. Ken Turino, manager of community engagement and exhibitions at Historic New England will moderate and offer his experiences during the call.

Donna Ann Harris is also the author of New Solutions for House Museums: Ensuring the Long Term Preservation of America’s Historic Homes published by AltaMira Press in 2007. She has been a preservation consultant for ten years and works nationwide in three practice areas: historic preservation, downtown and commercial district revitalization and nonprofit management.

Historic House Calls are online discussions featuring hot topics for historic house museums. Led by experts in the field, and moderated by members of AASLH Historic House Affinity Group Committee, they encourage attendees to join in the discussion.

Historic House Calls are free and only open to AASLH members.