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Bringing the Past to the Present: Contemporary Issues at Historic Sites and Museums

October 25, 2017

Are you interested in connecting your site’s history with a current issue? Or wondering how you can use your site to spark dialogue and encourage visitors to take action? Or to navigate sensitive conversations with co-workers and visitors who might be resistant to discussing contemporary topics?

This interactive webinar will explore how historic sites and museums can bring contemporary issues to light at their sites. Using Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site as a case study, speakers Lauren Zalut and Annie Anderson will discuss their work linking the past and the present through the stories of incarceration.

The presenters will discuss their site’s progression from solely interpreting the past to interpreting both historic and current events. They will also provide participants with a toolkit of actionable steps and resources that can be scaled up or down, depending on the size of each participant’s site.

*Some of this webinar’s content will be covered in Sean Kelley’s workshop, “The Advocacy / Neutrality Throwdown!” at the AASLH annual meeting in Austin, TX on Saturday, September 9, 2017.




Date: October 25, 2017

Time: 3pm EST/2pm Central/1pm Mountain/12pm Pacific/10am Hawaii/4pm Atlantic

Cost: $40 for AASLH members/$65 nonmembers



About the Speakers:


Annie Anderson is the Manager of Research and Public Programming at Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, where she explores America’s past and present prison systems. Annie is a cultural historian who studies race, gender, sexuality, vice, crime, and morality. She recently researched and co-wrote the exhibit Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration. Annie is a member of MASS Action (Museum as Site for Social Action).




Lauren Zalut oversees the development, implementation, and evaluation of guided tours, and the training of tour guides. Using the historic site as a catalyst for conversation on social issues, Lauren has worked to incorporate dialogue facilitation techniques and content about mass incarceration into guided tours, as well as into youth and family programming. Lauren believes that museums can be forces of social change, and it is her goal to design inspiring visitor experiences.





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