Sunday, June 15, 2008

NOT Boring House Tours

For a new project, I posted a query on several museum list-servs seeking perspectives on historic houses that engage their visitors. I heard from those who noted a site they had visited, and from others who worked at sites that had undertaken new interpretive efforts. I'll continue to write about historic houses, but here's the start of a list of historic houses that museum list-servers recommended:

Rupp House, Gettsburg, PA
Locust Grove, in Louisville, Kentucky
Laura's Plantation
Drayton Hall, SC
Middletown Place, SC
Sotterly, MD
Coffin House, Fountain City, Indiana
Luthili Museum, South Africa
Lower East Side Tenement Museum
Anne Frank Museum
Davenport House Museum, Savannah, Georgia
Chateau de Mores State Historic Site, Medora, ND
Benjamin Franklin House, London

What else should be on the list? Where have you had a memorable, engaging experience?

Above: White pitchers at Chateau de Mores State Historic Site, from levendis' photostream on


Anonymous said...

I would suggest a site nearby, Johnson Hall State Historic Site. During visits there, when speaking to staff, we learn that the house itself is a backdrop to telling the story of the house and the times. The staff is more interested in standing in the great hallway talking and answering questions, giving visitor-specific tours, rather than doing rote tours and pointing out objects, etc. I would use this site as an example when planning tours for historic homes. Very well done.

Susie Wilkening said...

I echo Drayton Hall, and add the Apprentice House at Quarry Bank Mill, outside Manchester in the UK. It was a guided tour, so my husband absolutely refused to go, but I went despite that. The guide was engaging, pragmatic, sightly acerbic, and conveyed a lot of information in an easy manner. Though I never could figure out what her costume had to do with the tour.

Another thing I noticed is that I was the youngest one on the tour . . . by at least 20 years. And I am in my 30s!

mark said...

Gladstone's Land in Edinburgh, Scotland has different periods on each floor in a similar manner to East Tennement in NY. Both dne very differently but each, I think, most suitable for their audience and histories.
Drayton Hall does a wonderful job and with no furniture atall, just a strong event-led narrative.

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