Workshop: Historic House Museum Issues and Operations

Why are historic houses necessary to their communities? How are historic house museums unique?

This workshop focuses on the unique needs, management, and interpretation of historic houses. With a focus on historic house museums, topics covered include collections care, types of research appropriate for historic house museums, exhibition development, interpretive tours, volunteers, and building and landscape maintenance.

See a sample agenda


Date: April 6-7, 2017

Location: Strawbery Banke | Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Cost: $270 members/$385 nonmembers
FLASH SALE: $50 off all registrations from March 9-13!


What Participants Said:

“The ‘notebook’ of articles is a great idea and a tangible helper to take back with us. The faculty’s experiences were invaluable–they will be a great resource, too!”

“The most helpful part was seeing institutions’ actual documents.”

“The enthusiasm & varied backgrounds of the participants was helpful.”

“As a volunteer–gave me a realistic view of the job description of our curators, staff & us as volunteers.”


About the Faculty:

3333346Max A. van Balgooy is the president of Engaging Places, LLC, a design and strategy firm that helps connect people with historic places. He is a national leader in historical interpretation and community engagement, with extensive experience in developing solutions in collaboration with diverse audiences, including volunteers, staff, trustees, residents, scholars, design professionals, business leaders, and elected officials. He has more than 35 years of experience working in museums historic preservation, heritage tourism, and historic sites, including senior positions at the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Workman and Temple Homestead Museum. A recognized researcher, author, speaker, and blogger on the trends, challenges, and opportunities facing museums, historic sites, and cultural organizations, he is a frequently requested facilitator, trainer, and consultant on business strategy, historical interpretation, public programming, marketing, and online media.

He also teaches in the Museum Studies Program at George Washington University, sits on the editorial board of Curator journal, is a MAP Peer Reviewer with the American Alliance of Museums, and served on the AASLH Council. He received his M.A. in history from the University of Delaware as a Hagley Fellow, his B.A. in history from Pomona College, and participated in the Historic Deerfield Summer Program in Early American History and Material Culture and the Attingham Summer School for the Study of Historic Houses and Collections.



George W. McDaniel is President of McDaniel Consulting, LLC, a company George established after serving 25 years as Executive Director of Drayton Hall, a historic site in Charleston, SC owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. McDaniel Consulting’s tag line, “Building Bridges through History,” is grounded in George’s personal beliefs and his experience in site management, preservation, education, board development, fundraising, and community outreach. Rather than using history to divide us, he strives to help organizations use history, especially local history, to enhance cross-cultural understanding and to support local museums, preservation, and education.  As an example, George recently led volunteer efforts with Emanuel AME Church and historical organizations in Charleston to use historic preservation to enhance racial reconciliation and healing.

A native of Atlanta, he holds a B.A. in history from Sewanee, an M.A.T. in history from Brown University, and a Ph.D. in history from Duke University.  The author of numerous publications, he has written two essays for 2017 AASLH publications:  “Commemorating Tragedy, Healing Wounds: Mother Emanuel AME Church” in Commemoration: An American Association of State and Local History Guide, and “Building Bridges through Local History” in Encyclopedia of Local History. Also due for publication in 2017by the University of Virginia Press is his essay, "Stepping Up and Saving Places: Case Studies in Whole Place Preservation,” in Stewards of Memory: The Past, Present, and Future of Historic Preservation at Mount Vernon. A frequent presenter at workshops, conferences, and public gatherings, he earned in 2015 the South Carolina Environmental Awareness Award and in 2016 the S.C. Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation, the first person in the state to have won the leadership awards in both fields.



We're All in This Together

Last week I attend AASLH’s Historic House Museum Issues and Operations workshop hosted by the Historic Charleston Foundation. Twenty-five museum professionals and volunteers gathered from across the nation - representing a diverse collection of historic homes. One thing was made clear very early on. No matter the diversity in the size and functions of our historic homes - we are all in this together! We face similar challenges and have the potential to facilitate transformative experiences with our guests. So often we forget that as we do not often have the chance to come together and discuss the strengths and challenges of the house museum world.

HHM Workshop 2015

Our speakers, Max Van Balgooy, George McDaniel, and Bethany Hawkins, provided more than just information for us to digest - they facilitated group discussions. These sessions helped us dig deeper and brainstorm solutions to particular situations. Information and conversations revolved around the following topics:

  • Challenges Facing Historic House Museums Today
  • Excellence in Preservation and Programming
  • A Real Life View: A Behind-the-Scenes Site Tour of the Nathaniel Russell House
  • Building Support: People & Money
  • Strategy and Sustainability
Behind the Scenes Tour at the Nathaniel Russell House
Behind the Scenes Tour at the Nathaniel Russell House


I left the two day workshop re-energized to dig into the work I love to do and a notebook full of ideas to implement to guide my historic house to embrace its distinctiveness in my local community as well as from other historic homes. I am challenged to update my site’s mission and vision statements to be a stronger guiding force as we map out the future goals and projects. Does your site have a mission and vision statement? If so, is it an active guiding force in every decision you make?

Melissa Peterson, Site Manager, Minnesota Historical Society’s Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site