This substantially enlarged and expanded second edition of New Solutions for House Museums: Ensuring the Long-Term Preservation of America’s Historic Houses provides advice for historic site stewards that have concerns about the financial sustainability of their historic house museum and its relevance to its local audience.
Seven new case studies have been added for the second edition. The new case studies reinforce the book’s central argument that not every historic house museum, whether founded 100 years ago or last month, can be sustained long-term. Three of the new case studies are from diverse historic sites, showcasing how African American, women, and other minority-focused historic sites are pioneering new ways to commemorate their histories and interpret fascinating stories to visitors, with the end goal of creating financially sustainable historic sites that are relevant to their audience.
New interviews have been conducted with the ten existing case studies from the first edition to bring them up to date. The new edition adds two new reuse options to the eight introduced in the first edition. This chapter describes how to identify and implement a reuse decision, costs and advisors needed, and tips on decision making. There is a new chapter-long interview with Tom Mayes, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, on recent legal and ethical issues facing historic sites. Another new chapter provides advice on the essential role of the historic site’s Board of Directors as the decision maker for any reuse exploration. The second edition of New Solutions for House Museums contains a new introduction to the second edition, an updated conclusion, bibliography, and index.
Donna Ann Harris has worked in the historic preservation field for 35 years. Since 2004, her firm Heritage Consulting Inc. has provided training, research, and consulting services for historic sites and historic commercial districts on volunteer management, fundraising, heritage tourism development, and organizational development activities.
Table of Contents
List of figures
Part 1 – Essential Background
2.Current Trends in House Museums
3.The Role of the Board of Directors in Historic House Museums
4.Legal and Ethical Issues: An Interview with Tom Mayes
5.The Decision-Making Process
6.Making the Transition
Part 2—Solutions and Case Studies
7.Ten Solutions Explained
8.Case Study: Study Houses
a.Historic New England,
9.Case Study: Caretakers
a.Caretakers at Historic Sites
10.Case Studies: Reprogram for a Mission Based Use
a.Nantucket Historical Association, The 1800 House, Nantucket Massachusetts
b.C & O Canal Trust, Canal Quarters Program, Hagerstown Maryland
c.Alice Paul Institute, Mount Laurel New Jersey
11.Case Studies: Co-Stewardship Agreements
a.Deadwood History Inc. Deadwood South Dakota
b.Emmett Till Interpretive Center, Sumner Mississippi
12.Case Study: Shared Use
a.Cooper Molera Adobe, Monterey California
13.Case Studies: Asset Transfer and Merger
a.Margaret Mitchell House and Atlanta History Center, Atlanta Georgia
b.Cliveden and Upsala Merger, Philadelphia Pennsylvania
14.Case Studies: Long- and Short-Term Leases
a.Massachusetts Historic Curatorship Program
b.Fairmount Park Conservancy, Philadelphia Pennsylvania
c.Heritage Branch, British Columbia Canada
d.Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
15.Case Studies: Sale to a Private Owner with Easements
a.Elfreth’s Alley Association, Philadelphia Pennsylvania
b.Sale of Upsala by Cliveden Inc., Philadelphia Pennsylvania
16.Case Study: Sale to a Nonprofit Stewardship Organization
a.Casa Amesti Foundation, Monterey California
17.Case Study: Donation to a Governmental Entity
a.Adel Historical Museum, Adel Iowa
18.Conclusions and a Call to Action
About the author
Donna Harris has made a tremendous contribution to the ways in which we preserve and engage with our history through her work to support and encourage the re-imagining of historic sites and house museums to sustain themselves both culturally and financially. The second edition of New Solutions for House Museums will continue this in even more impactful and dynamic ways.
Selling off the property is not the only option for struggling historic house museums. In her 2007 book, Donna Harris offered alternatives for cultural organizations, sustainable strategies that honored their commitments to preserving the past. In this new edition, she updates examples to reveal the complexities of these solutions and suggests some new strategies. Moreover, the addition of seven new in-depth case studies include several diverse examples that demonstrate new means of reinvention and sustainability. New Solutions for House Museums, 2nd edition, will help current board members, staff, and the next generation of history advocates think outside the box.