Recent Opportunities


AASLH Workshop: Reinventing the Historic House Museum

Workshop Description

Reinventing the Historic House Museum is a one-day symposium 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 is it dying. The field, however, needs to take time to reflect and renew as the world around our historic homes continues to change. The symposium will include presentations by historic house game-changers and local historic site administrators, 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.

Why should I attend?

Reinventing the Historic House Museum goes beyond basic questions about Historic Houses to delve deeper into core issues regarding relevance, funding, and preparing for the future.

Here are some of issues and challenges that participants from the previous workshop have discussed:

  • How to use the house’s history to tell the larger story of the city and county, as well as the house.
  • Moving town museum into a historic house, so how to interpret both the house/family and town collections? How to renovate the house for museum purposes.
  • What are the best ways to preserve the collections when we have no environmental controls (tarnishing of silver, textiles, rugs, photographs)?
  • How to raise funds to maintain buildings at a state-owned site.
  • Finding new ways to interpret the house to keep it engaging and interesting.
  • How to change community perceptions of the site/museum.
  • Attracting funding, developing maintenance plans and building attendance at a very rural location.
  • Balancing long-term thinking versus everyday demands.
  • Balancing preservation/conservation with being more available/access/education.
  • Need to take a look at the bigger picture of operations and management.
  • How to educate the board about the challenges and needs of museums.
  • How do I better prepare students for careers in museums (particularly historic sites)?


FORMAT: In-person group workshop 

LENGTH: One day (8:30 am - 5:00 pm) 

DATE: Friday, October 12, 2018 

LOCATION: Glessner House Museum, 1800 South Prairie Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60616 

MATERIALS: Workshop materials will be provided upon registration and in-person at the event. 

COST: $30 per person

This workshop is made available at a reduced cost thanks to the gracious generosity of our funders and sponsors. 



Topics include:

What You Ought to Know about Opportunities and Threats
Led by Max van Balgooy, Principal, 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, with a discussion on how they may relate to your house museum.

Reinventing the Historic House Museum
Led by 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.

Who Should Attend This Workshop

Participants in this workshop have ranged from emerging professionals and volunteers, to academic historians and professionals nearing the end of their careers. All have seen the value in the class and have been able to implement change at their organizations. In short, anyone who is interested in developing the skills to make their historic house interpretation and management better for their audiences and their stakeholders should attend this workshop.

Register  here


Max van Balgooy is a national leader in historical interpretation and community engagement, with extensive experience in developing solutions in collaboration with volunteers, staff, trustees, residents, scholars, design professionals, business leaders, and elected officials.  A recognized researcher, author, and speaker on the trends, challenges, and opportunities facing museums, historic sites, and cultural organizations, Max uses his skills as a facilitator and consultant for developing plans for business strategy, historical interpretation, public programming, marketing, and online media. He also operates Engaging Places, LLC, a design and strategy firm that “connects people and historic places.”

Kenneth Turino is Manger of Community Engagement and Exhibitions at Historic New England, the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive regional heritage organization in the country. Ken oversees community engagement projects throughout the six New England states and is responsible for the traveling exhibitions program at Historic New England. Prior to coming to Historic New England, Ken was Executive Director of the Lynn Museum, an active local history museum in Lynn, Massachusetts. He has worked at a number of historic houses including the Paul Revere House in Boston and is a Trustee of the House of Seven Gables in Salem. He frequently consults on interpretive planning and community engagement projects at historic sites. These include the Nicholas House Museum, Boston, The Hermann-Grima and Gallier Historic Houses, New Orleans, and most recently with Donna Harris on the future of the Charnley-Norwood House in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.


SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610
Copyright - (c) 2012