The National Trust for Historic Preservation released this announcement of their receiving a grant to support an initiative to increase visitor engagement at historic house museums. You can read the press release here: National Trust Initiative to Innovate House Museum Model.
Some of my first museum memories are from historic house museums, they are what some call sticky memories. I don’t remember the whole day, but I remember the red exterior of Gilbert Stuart Birthplace, the amazing elevator in Gillette Castle, the opulence of Rosecliff Mansion (okay, so at least the last two aren’t so house-y, but they followed the model at least back then, and they were houses to some people). I was between 6 and 9 when I went to these places, and that I at least remember some facet of them 20 years later means that those running the museums and leading the tours are doing something right. I’d go back to them too. There are certainly some house museums that I have been to much more recently that I remember less of…and those I won’t name, at least not now.
Still, things need to be changed when it comes to house museums, and supporting visitor engagement is a huge step in the right direction.
What do you think needs changing about how house museums are run or about how one experiences a house museum?