This one-day symposium is designed to offer current thinking, practical information, and solutions to the challenges facing historic sites. The Historic House Museum in America is not dead nor are most of them dying. The field, however, needs to take time to reflect and renew as the world around our historic sites continues to change.

Margaret_Mitchell_house_atlanta_2006Each symposium will include presentations, discussion, a boxed lunch, historic site visit, and a brainstorming workshop at a historic house museum to try out the new ideas proposed during the symposium.

Topics at both locations include:

The Five Forces that are Affecting Your Historic House Museum
Max van Balgooy, President, Engaging Places, LLC
Historic house museums face numerous challenges but figuring out which ones are serious or benign, urgent or important, temporary or long-term, isn’t easy. Max van Balgooy will present his analysis of the most important opportunities and threats facing historic sites in America based on the latest social and economic research, along with a discussion on strategies for responding to these external forces at your house museum.

Reinventing the Historic House Museum
Ken Turino, Manager of Community Engagement and Exhibitions, Historic New England
The purpose of this session is to provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of the rewards and challenges facing historic house museums today. Historic sites are looking for creative and sustainable ways to make themselves relevant to their communities. What is very exciting now is that many sites have risen to this challenge using different models and ways of interpreting to look beyond traditional models. The presentation will look at specific ways and examples of how historic houses have engaged with their communities, implemented creative forms of interpretation and programming as well as ways to earn income all to become more sustainable.

Each event will also include the perspective of a local historic site administrator as well as an onsite experience session at a historic house museum.

For Atlanta Location:
Michael Rose, Executive Vice President, Atlanta History Center, will discuss the challenges of engaging the local neighborhood with a historic site with a controversial past. Participants will learn how challenges can be turned into opportunities.

Putting Ideas to Work at the Margaret Mitchell House
Jessica VanLanduyt, Historic House Manager, Atlanta History Center
This hands-on session is a practical exercise that is designed to help participants think in new and creative ways that can be applied to their institutions. Participants will briefly tour the house, hear from staff about traditional and new uses for the site, examine reports, attendance figures, etc., and draw on the day’s discussion to help staff come up with ideas on how best to use the property to engage the local community.

This workshop was inspired by a sold-out symposium presented by the Historic House Museum Consortium of Washington, DC at Gunston Hall in March 2014, and now has been taken nationally to various regions by the American Association for State and Local History. Partial funding for the Atlanta symposium is provided by the Watson-Brown Foundation.