Workshop: Reinventing the Historic House Museum (Oct 2019)

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Reinventing the Historic House Museum

An AASLH Workshop

Workshop Description

The one-day workshop, Reinventing the Historic House Museum includes an 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 the participants’ house museum. We share a series of field-tested tools and techniques drawn from such wide-ranging sources as non-profit management, business strategy, and software development. Drawing from innovative organizations, we profile historic sites that are using new models to engage with their communities to become more relevant, are adopting creative forms of interpretation and programming, and earning income to become more financially sustainable. A key component of the workshop is a facilitated brainstorming session to reinvent an event or program. Working with an actual house museum not only puts theory into practice but demonstrates the value of multiple perspectives for analysis.

Why should I attend?

Historic house museums face a wide range of challenges in today’s continually changing environment. Traditional methods no longer seem to be as successful but new approaches seem uncertain or risky.  By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to analyze their operations, programs, and events to make better informed decisions, learn how to use a variety of tools and techniques that can be applied to a wide range of activities at museums big and small, identify ways to make their house museum more distinctive and relevant, and feel more confident to try new and different approaches.

Topics include:

  • Recognizing the Myriad Challenges Facing House Museums Today
  • Conducting a Holistic Assessment of Your House Museum’s Public Programs
  • Analyzing the Five Forces that Affect Public Programs and Events
  • House Museums That Are Successfully Reinventing Themselves
  • Discovering Your House Museum’s Unique Value and Distinctiveness


FORMAT: In-person group workshop

LENGTH: One full day (8:30 am - 5:00 pm), with lunch provided

DATE: Friday, October 4, 2019

LOCATION: The Old Stone House, 336 3rd Street, Brooklyn, NY 11215

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

COST: This workshop (which typically costs $95.00 per registrant) is made available at no cost thanks to grant funding secured by the Historic House Trust of New York City from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Arthur F. & Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation. Please use promotional code HHTNYC19 at checkout to receive discounted pricing.  

Who Should Attend This Workshop

Boardmembers, staff, and volunteers who manage house museums and historic sites or who develop public programs and events. This workshop is designed for organizations large and small who are seeking to increase the impact and sustainability of their house museum, as well as for paid or volunteer staff who want to expand their professional skills.

Participant Feedback

This workshop has been incredibly helpful to the host sites, who serve as the case study for the brainstorming session:

“Reinventing the Historic House Museum sparked many great ideas on how we can use our historic homes in dynamic, innovative ways. Since attending the workshop, we have implemented many changes, including a new self-guided tour with interactive elements that have increased our attendance and engaged the public in brand new ways.”

Sarah Bader-King, Director of Public Programming & Events,
Wornall/Majors House Museums, Kansas City, Missouri

Reinventing the Historic House Museum helped us visualize how the Margaret Mitchell House could connect with the community around us. While the site was very popular with tourists, we were hidden in plain sight from our own community. Our goal was to discuss the challenges we faced and to pursue practical solutions. The workshop allowed us to collaborate with area professionals and hear from colleagues facing similar challenges. We left the workshop with good ideas and a commitment to reimagine our site. As a result of that work we have increased visibility in the community, created programming relevant to the neighborhood, and are partnering with area organizations to become a community resource and connector.”

Jessica Van Landuyt, Director of 20th Century Houses,
Atlanta History Center, Atlanta, Georgia

Max van Balgooy

Director, History Leadership Institute

Max A. van Balgooy is president of Engaging Places LLC, a design and strategy firm that connects people and historic places.  He has worked with a wide range of historic sites on interpretive planning and business strategy, including James Madison’s Montpelier and Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage. He is an assistant professor in the Museum Studies Program at George Washington University, directs the History Leadership Institute (formerly known as the Seminar for Historical Administration), serves on the editorial board of Curator, the Museum Journal, and regularly leads workshops at regional and national museum conferences. He is a frequent contributor to professional journals and books, and with Ken Turino of Historic New England, he is preparing an anthology on reinventing the historic house museum for publication by Rowman and Littlefield in early 2019. These experiences provide a rich source of ideas for, where he blogs regularly about the opportunities and challenges facing historic sites and house museums.

Kenneth Turino

AASLH Workshop Instructor

Kenneth Turino is Manager of Community Partnerships and Resource Development at Historic New England where he has worked for 19 years. He oversees community engagement projects throughout New England and is responsible for exhibition partnerships at the Eustis Estate, Langdon House Museum, and the Sarah Orne Jewett Museum and Visitor Center. Prior to this, he was Executive Director of the Lynn Museum in Lynn, Massachusetts for 14 years. Ken frequently consults on interpretive planning and community engagement projects at historic sites including Madam John’s Legacy, New Orleans, LA, on best practices of community engagement, James Madison’s Montpellier, Orange, VA, where he was part of a charrette to rethink the visitor experience for the Interpretive Plan and most recently with the Connecticut Landmarks’ Palmer Warner House on interpreting LGBTQ history. Ken holds a MA in Teaching, Museum Education, from the George Washington University and is an adjunct professor in the Tufts University Museum Studies Program where he teaches courses on the future of historic houses. Mr. Turino is also a Trustee of the House of Seven Gables in Salem, MA. Along with Max van Balgooy he is an instructor for AASLH‘s Reinventing the Historic House workshop. His forthcoming book, with Max van Balgooy, based on the workshop will be published in fall 2019. Ken is also very pleased to announce that he is producer of  the Boston Camerata’s latest CD, Treasures of Devotion (June 2019)!


Pre-Workshop Survey
1 Question
1 Question Please complete this survey before attending the in-person workshop. Your responses will be used by our instructors to help tailor the content of the workshop.
Agenda and Logistical Information
Reinventing the Historic House Museum
10/04/2019 at 8:30 AM (EDT)   |  0 minutes  |  Attendance Required
10/04/2019 at 8:30 AM (EDT)   |  0 minutes  |  Attendance Required
Reinventing the Historic House Museum - Handout - Sample Agenda
Open to download resource.
Open to download resource.
Workshop Materials
Reinventing the Historic House Museum - Handout - Bibliography
Open to download resource.
Open to download resource. Selected Bibliography on Historic House Museums, prepared by Ken Turino and Max van Balgooy. This bibliography of more than 200 books and articles published since 2000 was developed as a gateway to the breadth of challenges and opportunities facing house museums in the United States.
Reinventing the Historic House Museum - Handout - Process Resource Packet
Open to download resource.
Open to download resource. Selected presentation slides from workshop instructor Max van Balgooy.
Reinventing the Historic House Museum - Handout - Worksheets
Open to download resource.
Open to download resource.
Value of History Statement
Open to download resource.
Open to download resource.