A generational shift is occurring at historic house museums as board members and volunteers retire while few young people step forward to take their place. These landmarks are also plagued by serious deferred maintenance, and many have no endowment funds. What will happen to these sites in the next ten years, and what can be done to assure their continued preservation for generations to come? In New Solutions for House Museums Harris examines possible options and provides a decision-making methodology as well as a dozen case studies of house museums that have made a successful transition to a new owner or user.
Harris' message is prudent and pragmatic and the operating circumstances surrounding her case studies of house museums that have successfully made the transition to a new owner or a new use will be very familiar to many small museum operators...
Taking care of an old house isn’t easy, and being a responsible steward of a historic house museum is particularly challenging. In this thoughtful book, Donna Harris offers advice that can help boards and staff ask tough questions—and, if necessary, make tough decisions—to ensure a viable future for the historic resources they manage.
David G. DeLong
Donna Ann Harris brings unique insights to a critical problem facing advocates of historic preservation: the proliferation of house museums, too often under-funded and under-staffed. Through penetrating analysis of actual as well as hypothetical cases, she outlines how transitions to new uses and new owners can best achieve the desired result of saving the building itself. This book should be required reading for anyone even remotely connected with running a house museum.
November 2008 Museums Australia Magazine
This publication brings together a number of workable solutions for a contemporary issue of concern....Timely, concise, practical, well researched....and written in everyday language, this is a handy management tool.
The Public Historian
Harris's book is organized in a very clear fashion....At every step, the author displays an emphatic objectivity....Harris comes well positioned to write such a book....Donna Harris has done a great service for historic house museums and the people who are passionate about them.
The Journal Of Heritage Stewardship, University of Michigan, Winter 2009
- Michelle McClellan
In this book, Donna Ann Harris, a preservation consultant with more than 20 years of experience, provides a critical resource for boards, staff, and volunteers at historic house museums, who need to consider whether creative alternatives to the house museum model may allow them to better realize their fundamental obligation—the preservation of the house.
I would certainly recommend this book to my colleagues in the historic house museum community who may be facing house museum sustainability challenges, and who may be able to use the contents and insights offered in this book as a source of inspiration, and/or as a catalyst for moving their institution forward in pursuit of a successful alternative.
Donna Ann Harris has over twenty years of experience as an educator, program designer, and executive. She has worked in all levels of government and the non-profit sector in the historic preservation field. She has earned a Masters in Governmental Administration from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters in Historic Preservation from Columbia University.
Part 1 Part I: Assessment and Decision-Making Chapter 2 1. Current Trends in Historic House Museums Chapter 3 2. Is This Your House Museum? Chapter 4 3. Legal and Ethical Issues Chapter 5 4. The Decision-Making Process Chapter 6 5. Making the Transition Part 7 Part II: Solutions and Case Studies Chapter 8 6. Eight Solutions Explained Chapter 9 7. Case Study: Study Houses Historic New England Chapter 10 8. Case Study: Reprogram for Mission-Based Use Chapter 11 9. Case Studies: Co-Stewardship Agreements , Frank Lord Wright Preservation Trust Chapter 12 10. Case Studies: Asset Transfer and Merger Margaret Mitchell House and Museum and the Atlanta History Center, Cliveden of the National Trust and Historic Upsala Foundation Chapter 13 11. Long-Term Leases Hazelwood of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Chapter 14 12. Case Studies: Short-term LeasesHeritage Brunch, British Columbia Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women's Services Fairmount Park Historic Preservation Trust Chapter 15 13. Case Studies: Sale to a Private Owner with Easements Elfreth's Alley Association, Robert E. Lee Boyhood Home Chapter 16 14. Case Studies: Sale to a Nonprofit Stewardship Organization Casa Amesti Foundation, Heurich House Foundation Chapter 17 15. Case Study: Donation to a Governmental Entity 18 16. Conclusion