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Actively Historic: The House Museum in the 21st Century

Historic house museums offer a unique, more personal experience of the past -- an experience both valuable, and at risk.  In recent years, many historic houses have faced increasingly dire economic obstacles, including a declining number of visitors and sparse funding. Concerns of social and cultural relevancy, and reactivation of the visitor experience are likewise of central importance. Historic house museums are particularly significant to the five college community and our immediate regional surroundings. Our symposium unites representatives from diverse institutions to discuss contemporary issues surrounding historic house museums.

Frank Vagnone, co-author of Anarchist’s Guide to Historic House Museums, will present a keynote address on the larger issues of preservation and small cultural institutions, based on his experience with historic house museums. Following the keynote will be a roundtable discussion moderated by Tim Rohan, Assistant Professor of the History of Architecture at UMass Amherst, with panelists from loca institutions, including: Jane Wald, executive director at Amherst College’s Emily Dickinson House Museum; Nina Zannieri, Executive Director of the Paul Revere Memorial Association; Anne Lanning, Vice President for Museum Affairs at Historic Deerfield; and Barbara Matthews, Public Historian at Historic Deerfield.

A networking reception will cap off the symposium following the panel discussion.