Forum Journal (Summer 2014): How To Determine Your New Period of Significance - Worksheet


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This slideshow is enhanced content for "The Period of Significance is Now" an interview with Erin Carlson Mast, Morris J. Vogel and Lisa Lopez in the Summer 2014 Forum Journal ('Stepping into the
Future at Historic Sites'). It should be used with the accompanying slideshow ( To learn more about Preservation Leadership Forum and how you can become a member visit:

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Forum Journal (Summer 2014): How To Determine Your New Period of Significance - Worksheet

  1. 1. Summer 2014 Forum Journal: “Stepping into the Future at Historic Sites” Enhanced Content: Worksheet for The Period of Significance Is Now The Tenement Museum and President Lincoln’s Cottage have recently grappled with the question of how best to identify the period of significance for historic sites. The directors of these two sites have come up with a series of questions to help staff at other sites tease out a more inclusive and relevant period of history. The following questions and accompanying presentation will help you think about how your site connects to the broader human experience. Questions: 1. What are your site’s current periods of significance? 2. What are the current site themes? Is the relevance of these themes limited to a period of significance or do they reflect a broader human experience? Brainstorming Exercise: List humanities themes related to your site and whether or not their significance is limited to a specific time and place or illustrates a theme that continues to arise in contemporary society.
  2. 2. 3. What type of audiences does your site currently attract? Does your current audience reflect the diversity of the community/ies you serve? Are there important, site-specific stories that are relevant to your site but that are not used because they fall outside your official period(s) of significance and/or themes? Brainstorming Exercise: Itemize the stories, identifying significance to site, mission, and theme. 4. What are the limitations to your current interpretive program? What obstacles, if any, may prevent you from modifying the site’s period of significance and interpretive themes? Brainstorming Exercise: Itemize the potential obstacles, their impact, and support needed.
  3. 3. 5. What additional research is needed to explore other periods of significance and themes? Brainstorming Exercise: What do you need to do to conduct targeted research to fill information gaps. Analysis and Implementation: 1. Take a survey on what people—members, donors, and the communities you serve—think your period of significance is currently. Include questions about possible new periods of significance. 2. Review the information from the survey and the brainstorming session above. Ask the following questions: • Which new themes have the strongest connections to new audiences and new areas of support? • Which new themes have the strongest connections to existing audiences and areas of support? • What other factors can be used to prioritize which new themes to explore in the short and longer term? • How can new and existing audiences, partners, or research help overcome obstacles? • What are key first steps in moving forward with exploring the prioritized new themes? 3. Develop an implementation plan for adopting and using the new material.