Designed for board and staff members of nonprofit-owned historic house museums that are struggling with insufficient funds or people power to sustain their site to the level that their historic building needs and deserves. Provides new solutions for house museums that cannot be sustained long-term. Outlines eight techniques currently in use by nonprofit and government owners of historic houses to sustain the sites long-term.
Part I Assessment and Decision Making Current Trends in Historic House Museums Is This Your House Museum? Legal and Ethical Issues The Decision-Making Process Making the Transition
Most House Museums were created by volunteer preservationists who saw the house being threatened and wanted to retain the structure as part of the historic fabric of the community.
House Museums must be heavily subsidized in order to pay for house maintenance and the staff to run them.
Unfortunately, most house museums are only locally significant, and don’t attract enough financial support (through tourism) to remain solvent.
Many historic house stewards make the unconscious or conscious choice not to address deterioration of the house, since it is easier to do nothing. However, it is the obligation of the stewards of the property to plan for the future and ensure that the work of the past does not end in deterioration and abandonment.
Some House Museum Statistics Twenty years ago there were 5,000 house museums in the United States. Ten years ago there were more than 8,000. 59% began operating prior to the 1960s. 70% are in rural locations or places with populations under 50,000 people. 54% receive fewer than 5,000 visitors a year. 65% have no full-time staff. 80% have annual budgets of less than $50,000. A new house museum is created every 3.5 days.
House museums appeal to both preservationists and the public because of their familiarity. However, without active interpretation a house is a dead artifact. Want to honor and romanticize local forefathers. Interpretations are often generic.
Some problems with house museums. Aging boards. Few endowments and little planned giving. Deferred maintenance obligations. Visitor services.
DECISION MAKING FLOWCHART Throughout: Board communicates to Membership about progress of search for preferred alternatives. Board manages communication with Stakeholders and the public through a spokesperson.
Part II Solutions and Case Studies Eight Solutions Explained Case Study: Study Houses Case Study: Reprogram for Mission-Based Use Case Studies: Co-Stewardship Agreements Case Studies: Asset Transfer and Merger Case Study: Long-term Leases Case Studies: Short-term Leases Case Studies: Sale to a Private Owner with Easements Case Studies: Sale to a Nonprofit Stewardship Organization Case Study: Donation to a Governmental Entity
Reuse Options Based on the Condition of the Historic House Museum Building KEY: ***excellent solution **possible solution *unlikely solution
Reuse Options Based on the Condition of the Historic House Museum Building
Retain ownership of the historic building Five options: Continue to manage the site but reprogram it as a study house with limited visitation. Continue to manage the site but reprogram it for another mission-based use. Give up daily management, and enter into a formal co-stewardship or cooperative relationship with another house museum organization to operate and manage the house museum. Dissolve the corporation and merge with another nonprofit to manage the property as a house museum. Give up daily management, and enter into a long-term management or lease agreement with another nonprofit or for-profit that manages the property for a house museum or another adaptive use.
Sale or donation of the property, with protective easements Three options: Sell the house to a private owner with easements Sell to a nonprofit stewardship organization with easements Donate the site to a government or other nonprofit entity.