Last week I attend AASLH’s Historic House Museum Issues and Operations workshop hosted by the Historic Charleston Foundation. Twenty-five museum professionals and volunteers gathered from across the nation – representing a diverse collection of historic homes. One thing was made clear very early on. No matter the diversity in the size and functions of our historic homes – we are all in this together! We face similar challenges and have the potential to facilitate transformative experiences with our guests. So often we forget that as we do not often have the chance to come together and discuss the strengths and challenges of the house museum world.
Our speakers, Max Van Balgooy, George McDaniel, and Bethany Hawkins, provided more than just information for us to digest – they facilitated group discussions. These sessions helped us dig deeper and brainstorm solutions to particular situations. Information and conversations revolved around the following topics:
- Challenges Facing Historic House Museums Today
- Excellence in Preservation and Programming
- A Real Life View: A Behind-the-Scenes Site Tour of the Nathaniel Russell House
- Building Support: People & Money
- Strategy and Sustainability
I left the two day workshop re-energized to dig into the work I love to do and a notebook full of ideas to implement to guide my historic house to embrace its distinctiveness in my local community as well as from other historic homes. I am challenged to update my site’s mission and vision statements to be a stronger guiding force as we map out the future goals and projects. Does your site have a mission and vision statement? If so, is it an active guiding force in every decision you make?
Melissa Peterson, Site Manager, Minnesota Historical Society’s Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site