Forum Journal (Summer 2014): Innovation Lab Final Report


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This document is enhanced content for "Innovation at National Trust Historic Sites" by Cindi Malinick in the Summer 2014 Forum Journal (Stepping into the Future at Historic Sites). To learn more about Preservation Leadership Forum and how you can become a member visit:

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Forum Journal (Summer 2014): Innovation Lab Final Report

  1. 1. Innovation at National Trust Historic Sites Enhanced Content: Takeaway Innovation Lab Final Report
  2. 2. N A T I O N A L T R U S T H I S T O R I C S I T E S I N N O V A T I O N L A B F O R M U S E U M S Final Report - April 30, 2014 Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez, Senior Vice President of Historic Sites National Trust for Historic Preservation The measure of a museum’s success should not be its ability to represent a state, a nation or company, or a particular history. It should be its capacity to reveal the humanity of individuals. —Orhan Pamuk, The Innocence of Objects
  4. 4. Overview As our formal partnership with EmcArts and the Innovation Lab concludes, it gives me great pleasure to submit this final report. The very notion of juxtaposing innovation with preservation, both ostensibly disparate, provided not only a challenge, but also a great opportunity for National Trust Historic Sites and the organization as a whole. On the one hand, preservation is seen as static and unchanging, but in reality its etymology also points to a more direct and active approach; the Latin roots, prae, ‘before,’ and servare, ‘to save,’ not simply to bear witness, but to watch and protect. Nevertheless, the contrast of preservation with innovation reveals an even more expansive potential, as the word innovation comes from the Latin innovare, ‘to renew and change.’ Therefore, the motivation behind our application to the Innovation Lab was our belief that historic sites are capable of cultivating new forms of knowledge and consciousness and fostering creative openings, where memory and culture are not simply vibrant and alive, but also allow for transformation and renewal. From the moment of applying, through to prototyping, and now looking to the future, the Innovation Lab has been a tremendous journey. However, as with any project of this nature, the Lab experience has been a “winding road” that led National Trust Historic Sites to some unexpected places. At some points along the journey, assumptions were challenged, while others were confirmed and even the bumps along the road became lessons for a new day. Throughout the project, the organization has grown and embraced the language of innovation, and toward strengthening of what is core, we have incorporated much of the “muscle-building” requirements around innovation into our daily work. This work has also radiated out in at least two other distinct ways. First, as other departments and divisions of the National Trust have witnessed the excitement and synergy around the work of the Lab, they have adopted both the language and framework. Second, as we have held conversations with other historic sites, house museums and historical organizations, a similar level of excitement has arisen, particularly in offering new, replicable opportunities. For all of this, the National Trust is extremely grateful to EmcArts. The financial support provided the catalyst for experimentation, and the collaborative exchanges with peers led by our facilitator, Melissa Dibble, were extremely valuable and impactful.
  5. 5. National Trust Historic Sites Page 4 Innovation Lab Final Report-2014 Project Narrative As Senior Vice President of Historic Sites at the National Trust, I submitted a grant request to EmcArts in 2012 to fund “Re-Imagining Historic House Museums” by using our own nationwide portfolio of historic sites as the “laboratories.” Encouraged by the grant, we applied the Innovation Lab because we recognized and believed that change was not only necessary but also possible, and as such, I outlined both the challenge as well as pointed to the opportunity: Historic house museums constitute one of the largest and most vulnerable segments of museums in the United States. The existing operating model for these institutions lacks the ability to sustain itself, both culturally and financially. The existing operating model for these institutions lacks the ability to sustain itself, both culturally and financially. Across the country, historic house museums—including the majority of historic sites owned, operated, or affiliated with the National Trust for Historic Preservation—find themselves with declining attendance, shrinking budgets, and obligations for the care of historic buildings and collections that they cannot meet. Yet, at the same time, exceptional examples of historic house museums vividly demonstrate that they have the potential to function as highly engaging educational institutions, dynamic community touchstones, and uniquely authentic signifiers of the broad continuum of history. At the time of the application, having been on staff at the National Trust for one year, I had begun implementing an operating goal to move the portfolio of historic sites to higher levels of programmatic quality, structural integrity, and financial sustainability. As part of an overall effort of creating the conditions for that change—which would set the stage for realizing a more fruitful implementation of the Innovation Lab—several major efforts were concurrently underway at the time of the application. These initiatives were aimed at not only operating infrastructures, but also the requisite need to shift culture generally at historic sites. Although many efforts were in process, three examples are noteworthy. First, I had just led a major initiative to clarify governance—roles and responsibilities of boards and Advisory Councils across all the sites—working with pro-bono consultants from Booz Allen Hamilton, which would greatly assist in establishing stakeholder interest in and support of the work of the Lab. Second, this consultation led to the creation of a strategic roadmap that identified five major areas of focus, including planning/positioning, site management, financial sustainability, asset management, and community engagement and outreach, again critical work that would enable even deeper discussions around strategic programming for the Lab. Third, as part of an effort that would result in the hiring of nine new executive directors, at the time of the application and up until August, 2013, I was recruiting and hiring new leadership, expanding the breadth of skill sets and previous professional experiences and above all, bringing leadership to our Historic Sites who were open to new possibilities. Set within this broad context then, the overall strategic goal of the "Re-imagining Historic House Museums" initiative for the Innovation Lab was to provide a platform—a launching pad of sorts—from which National Trust Historic Sites could innovate the traditional house museum model, away from a relatively stagnant standard toward a new model with experiences that focused on what is core—place and story, both tied to what is fundamental to a museum (especially a history museum), all of the muses of memory. “Re-imagining Historic House Museums" embodied a fundamental institutional shift for the National Trust to abandon traditional house museum precepts (static objects, contrived period rooms, guided tours), and instead, to create spaces that informed, illuminated, and inspired. The re-imagined historic house museum would engage the senses beyond sight to include sound, smell, touch, taste, and even sentiment. It would welcome user-generated content and foster new collaborations. It would utilize architecture, collections, and landscapes to tell a broader range of stories that reflect the diversity of
  6. 6. National Trust Historic Sites Page 5 Innovation Lab Final Report-2014 American history. It would serve as a living laboratory for conservation, creativity, and scholarship. It would seek to address tensions and difficult issues based in the realities of its past. Our initial meetings led to a charter (see Appendix) with a very clear challenge, vision, objective and principles, all of which defined the work that we would do on the assessment and prototypes that would follow. While the initial vision of our effort toward reimagining was broad and deep—affecting organizational and management practices as much as programming and finance, in the end, the reach exceeded our eventual grasp. As is true of managing any large portfolio, balancing capacity and creating equilibrium is critical; while this was certainly true in the Historic Sites headquarters’ Department, it is a truth that resonates also at each and every historic site in the portfolio. Therefore, the process of going through the Lab eventually led us to a highly conscious phasing and thoughtful prioritization, enabling greater focus, and eventually slowing down enough to spark the creative potential at these places of memory. Challenges and/or unanticipated events and outcomes As Richard and I acknowledged during our pre-award phone call, a grant to the National Trust for Historic Preservation from EmcArts would be an experiment for both entities. The National Trust had never before participated in a funding opportunity structured quite like the Lab, which is precisely what most interested me. From EmcArts’ perspective, the National Trust posed a challenge as an applicant and an awardee at many levels. EmcArts had not previously granted Lab funds to multiple (and multiple- sited) museums such as those of the National Trust, which while generally clustered, is in fact a portfolio located from coast to coast. The portfolio itself posed a challenge because the operating, governance and ownership models vary across three categories (Stewardship Sites, Co-Stewardship Sites, and Affiliate Sites) with the reality being that there are at least 27 unique museum models, with their own communities, infrastructures, and challenges. Finally, while the Historic Sites’ Department, which includes headquarters staff and a portfolio of 27 sites, represent the largest component of the National Trust (assets, staffing, budget, and endowment) the major focus of the organization as a whole was on preservation advocacy— saving historic places. Thus, at the very outset, the challenges, while not small, provided in many ways the perfect laboratory for experimentation. Both organizations inevitably learned a great deal, stretching our “adaptive muscles” in ways big and small. Capacity was perhaps one of the greatest challenges for realizing and implementing the various components of the Lab. From a sheer logistical standpoint, given the relatively small number of staff at headquarters, most of whom have very specific roles in their support of the sites (i.e. chief architect for sites, collections manager), we struggled to maintain an extraordinarily heavy day-to-day workload and at the same time, take full advantage of all that the Lab offered. Yet, in spite of this, from a bigger picture perspective, while I inherited an incredibly challenging organizational structure and culture in the department and organization as a whole, the work done to reorganize the headquarters department at the end of 2011 actually led to a number of efficiencies. The goal was not only to “raise all boats” and greatly strengthen the network, but also to shift away from a command and control model to a model of support and synergy. Cultural change in any organization, however, is never easy or quick and always subject to unique personalities and the inevitable political undercurrents in play, and the National Trust was no exception to these challenges. In terms of the actual implementation of the project, our initial plan to establish a network/virtual portal for improved communications and to develop a more robust sites’ website encountered a variety of obstacles. Some of these obstacles related to capacity of headquarters’ staff, given the push and pull expectations, mandates, and unexpected urgencies. Some other obstacles encountered from the
  7. 7. National Trust Historic Sites Page 6 Innovation Lab Final Report-2014 Marketing Division related to the National Trust’s highly regulated and structured website, resulting in a challenge that while not insurmountable, would have taken more time than available. As a result, however, not only because of the difficulties encountered, but also because of continual engagement and communication with the sites, this process allowed for a more nimble and flexible approach. In the end, we adjusted, course-corrected, and set our sights instead on assessment and prototyping, which though unanticipated, resulted positively. In terms of this level of implementation, while some sites met resistance from some stakeholders in areas around assessment and even the very definition of innovation, and other sites received criticism from the public during their prototyping efforts, most efforts at the sites were receptively met with great expectation and encouragement. Nevertheless, all of the challenges became learning experiences that the sites have absorbed and are using as they move forward in their ongoing work to create and innovate. Evidence of Outcomes/Impact Perhaps the most overt evidence of National Trust Historic Sites growing “innovation muscles” can be seen in the prototyping projects planned or implemented across the portfolio and supported by nearly $29,000 in Innovation Lab grant funds. As reported to EmcArts last winter, the Sites Department spent time during our 2013 Santa Fe Site Directors meeting developing ideas for prototyping at our sites that would be experimental, that could increase the capacity of our sites to implement changes that were discontinuous with previous practices, and that would test assumptions. To follow on with that work, we issued a call for proposals, envisioning that the sites could use the funds as either seed money for 'day- dream' projects or for innovative projects that were already underway and that needed additional support. We encouraged the Site Directors to consider a host of ideas for projects ranging from $1,000-$7,500, including staff exchanges for professional development or fostering new networks and synergies; consultancies for assisting with new projects that would be discontinuous from previous practice; or experimental cultural programming for new cultural or educational programming that was engaging and reflected a commitment to building a sense of community, raising consciousness, or inspiring creativity. The sites responded enthusiastically and immediately, planning or implementing their projects, with many presenting their assessments of the completed projects during a Q & A session at our Indianapolis meeting. Not surprisingly, the prototyping revealed ingenuity, initiative, and creativity, pushing the boundaries of past practices. Per our very “lightly-held” nominal guidelines framework, the projects were small and manageable, and integrated the innovation philosophy we all had been exploring for the past year. There were many examples, but three show the range of projects, which included: underwriting an architect-in-residence at the Glass House, who actually lived in a mobile unit (combining a van, a scissor lift, and an inflatable, translucent room) in order to truly integrate himself into the site’s campus life; supporting travel for the Executive Director of Farnsworth to explore the Rural Studio in central Alabama, an avant-garde architectural studio sponsored by Auburn University that focuses on efficient, economical and sustainable building techniques and is located in one of the poorest counties in the United States – for potential partnerships or patternings for his own rurally-located site; and a digital web interactive for Lyndhurst, which is a three-phase project, including 360° filming for a virtual tour for viewers to navigate “through” the interior of Lyndhurst during the holidays, further filming and upgrading technical aspects of the website to support the “tour,” and lastly connecting the site to Glass House, again virtually through portals that will allow visitors to hone in on a piece of art at Lyndhurst and end up focused on a different piece of art at the Glass House. For this last project, the goal is to connect all the sites virtually in this unique way, and connecting the Glass House and Lyndhurst is a small and incremental effort toward that end.
  8. 8. National Trust Historic Sites Page 7 Innovation Lab Final Report-2014 Evidence of New/Enhanced Innovation Capacity From an organizational point of view, the fact that President Stephanie Meeks declared 2013-2014 the ‘Year of Innovation’ for the National Trust is remarkable evidence of how pervasive the Innovation Lab became. In her winter presentation to the Board of Directors and at an ensuing All Staff Meeting, Ms. Meeks delved into the importance of innovation, and stated unequivocally that the Trust must dedicate itself to highlighting and celebrating innovation to further transform its work. She specifically noted that, “as the leaders of the preservation movement, we are looked to for advances in preservation action and leadership thinking.” As such, the Trust established the “Insights in Innovation” Speaker Series for all staff that supported innovation education in a dynamic back and forth setting with various leaders of national import. Using the language utilized in the Sites’ Innovation Lab, the Trust also leveraged the concepts behind innovation to stimulate innovative work by offering grants for internal and external recipients that would encourage creativity and considered risk-taking through funding new projects that were fresh, cutting-edge, and that demonstrated new and better ways to do things. Drawing from a small funding source of $25,000, grants ranging from $3,000 to $5,000 were framed around criteria including the impact of the project, the ability to complete the project, and the financial feasibility of the project. These small but impactful projects, revealing how the idea behind the Innovation Lab radiated outward, included the following: a Preservation Green Lab animated video, Preservation Legal Defense Network tools and services to assist attorneys and others leverage laws early in a preservation conflict, Drayton Hall’s 3D visualization project, an Employee Recognition and Incentive Program for both supervisor and peer-to- peer acknowledgement, and #RaiseAGlass, a Historic Bars Content Series that will highlight local bars and other entertainment venues across multiple media platforms. For the sites staff and the headquarters staff, we all continue to work to strengthen core innovation muscles. Adopting the language and a framework, which is notably being used by many historic sites staff, each one of us thinks constantly about how to engage differently, proactively, and incrementally, celebrating even the smallest of accomplishments. Even greater evidence can be seen in more systematic policy changes. Specifically, we amended our Interpretation and Education (I/E) Fund grant guidelines, incorporating our Innovation Lab principles into the language and increasing the amount of mini-grants to $5,000 and standard grants to $30,000 to test the assumption that more funds in both categories would lead to more innovative projects. Further, the guidelines (see Appendix) now encourage sites to apply jointly to foster more collaboration, and also ask sites to describe how their project meets one or more of the principles from the Innovation Charter. The fact that a principle source of funding for our sites that is made available on a competitive basis annually now incorporates the language of the charter - actively encouraging innovation - is a major accomplishment and tangible evidence of the impact of the Lab. This spring, we announced three recipients for these grants awarded under the new guidelines: $30,000 to The Lower East Side Tenement Museum to support a digital exhibit and series of public programs to interpret the history of its recently acquired late 19th century tenement building that will relate the experiences of immigrant families who settled there after World War II, thereby expanding the scope of the Museum’s programming to better represent the experiences of current immigrant residents in the community; $30,000 to the Glass House to enhance its accessibility to visitors, scholars, and international audiences through the development of an innovative website and educational media platform, utilizing a variety of informative media including commissioned essays, video content, and digitized collections and archives; and $11,100 to the Montpelier Foundation to support the creation of an interpretive representation of an early 19th century slave quarter at Montpelier through ghosted timbers. To be constructed during a week-long, fee-based public workshop that will give participants hands-on
  9. 9. National Trust Historic Sites Page 8 Innovation Lab Final Report-2014 experience in carpentry for hewing and notching logs and at the same time provide background on historic research and interpreting slave quarters that are no longer present on the landscape. Accomplishments/Activities Completed Throughout the project, the organization has grown and embraced the language of innovation; but moreover, the entire National Trust, not just its historic sites, has incorporated much of the “muscle- building” requirements around innovation into its daily work, and those innovations are exciting to behold. For the portfolio of historic sites, we dedicated three full Site Directors meetings (Spokane, Santa Fe, and Indianapolis) to the Lab, exploring in a variety of sessions what it means to innovate and how our sites specifically could begin to adapt, at least incrementally. We developed a charter and began incorporating the principles of that charter into every aspect of our work. Both headquarters staff and sites staff developed and implemented an innovation readiness assessment and conducted those assessments at four selected sites – Cliveden in Philadelphia, PA, Lyndhurst in Tarrytown, NY, Villa Finale in San Antonio, TX, and Gaylord, in Lockport IL (see Appendix). From that, we pivoted to developing criteria to support prototyping at the sites and reviewed the successes and challenges of those prototypes together (see Appendix). Further, three members of the Innovation Core Team had the opportunity to attend the Innovation Lab Summit held in Denver in October. Later, in collaboration with the Preservation Services Department, we sponsored an Interpretation & Education conference that brought sites staff from around the country to Washington to explore potential innovative work in the field. The two day convening included staff from across the organization, and was organized around field sessions, workshops, and brainstorming. Finally, we have shared our Innovation Lab work both inside and outside the Trust – via conference calls with Eastern and Western field staff all of whom were anxious to learn more; through written articles and essays for an upcoming issue of the Trust’s Forum Journal; with “students” at the annual Seminar for Historic Administration; and as conveners and presenters at national conferences, including the American Alliance of Museums, the American Association of State and Local History, and the American Historical Association. Assessment of project to date with any changes in the original plan As noted previously in this report, our original intent was to utilize grant funds to build an Innovation Network that would include a virtual portal to enhance communication between sites and hiring a consultant to develop “wireframes” for a more robust website. However, this goal was not realized for several reasons, including extremely limited capacity of headquarters’ staff and other challenges encountered with the Marketing Division related to the National Trust’s highly regulated and structured website. As with so many things in life, the resulting changes were for the best, as we course-corrected, and focused instead on assessment and prototyping, which resulted in an energized staff diving into diverse projects. Future plans/next steps in innovation process National Trust Historic Sites believe that history holds tremendous power and potential to illuminate, inform, inspire, and influence. We believe that when combined with the power of place, the opportunity to deepen the understanding and appreciation for the past exists in a critical, layered, and sensory experience. As practitioners of history, we know from the lessons of the past that sometime, good ideas
  10. 10. National Trust Historic Sites Page 9 Innovation Lab Final Report-2014 are like wine and need time to develop and the right time and place to open and savor. And other times all that innovation requires is taking a step back, re-focusing and trying something in a different way. Because of our Innovation Lab experience, staff is eager to continue experimenting, taking risks and realizing that change is also dependent upon incremental changes that work toward tipping points. During this prototyping process, I often heard site staff comment upon that fact that they had never witnessed the National Trust investing in innovation and encouraging risk taking. The framework and language and frankly, a changed culture, have given the staff permission to take risks, make mistakes, adjust, and if necessary, repeat, until momentum is steadily built. This changed culture has resulted in thinking differently, moving past assumptions about stakeholders, audiences, programming, revenue, and infrastructure, and finding ways to leverage all of these toward a common goal. The National Trust will continue to draw upon the momentum of the Lab by investing, even in small ways, in operational and programmatic innovations.
  11. 11. APPENDICES
  12. 12. The Innovation Lab of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Catalyzing Creativity, Consciousness and Community at Historic Sites Innovation Lab Core Team, National Trust for Historic Preservation 2012 Challenge: Thousands of historic house museums are among the most vulnerable historic sites and museums in the United States because their existing operating models lack the ability to sustain these sites both culturally and financially. The imperative is as much operational as it is methodological and cultural. Vision: The Sites of National Trust for Historic Preservation will engage the past, shape the present, and inspire the future. Principles: Aligned with the mission, preservation ethic and core values of the National Trust, we resolve to innovate and evolve historic sites so that they adhere to the following principles: • Historic sites listen to and respond to their communities. • Historic sites are dynamic, relevant and evolving. • Historic sites are managed adaptively to be financially sustainable. • Historic sites foster an understanding and appreciation of history and culture that is critical, layered, and sensory. • Historic sites serve as spaces for reflection, conversation and as a nexus for storytelling. • Historic sites are inclusive and reveal the full breadth, depth and often marginalized scope of American history. Objective: The National Trust for Historic Preservation will foster catalytic changes at historic sites to promote powerful connections between sites, communities, and their histories; protect the integrity of structures, collections, and landscapes; and achieve long-term financial sustainability. Type and Trajectory: While aligned with the NTHP mission, preservation ethic and stewardship responsibilities, the changes required for innovation must be about empowering sites and their governing bodies, and these changes may include engagement with strategic public and private partnerships. We acknowledge that the work to innovate National Trust Historic Sites is in different stages of evolution across the Trust’s portfolio of properties. In this context, the following types of adaptive change will be encouraged and supported, and sites and lessons learned can and should move between these categories. • Radical—implement a major change that may include returning the site to an original, non-museum use or implement new uses. • Transformative—implement a major change that will include new uses that
  13. 13. are sensitive to the history of the site and responsive to its community. • Experimental—implement substantive changes that are discontinuous with previous practices and test new assumptions. Strategies: As the National Trust works to imagine and realize both the present and the future in which it is more visible, relevant and financially successful, the Innovation Lab will implement the following strategies: • Assess and build capacity for discontinuous/innovative change; • Incubate Innovations across the portfolio of sites (including prototype implementation & evaluation); • Create an Innovation Network for Trust Sites to share their prototypes/experiments, learning, frustrations across the portfolio; • Capture and disseminate innovations to build deeper and further understanding/learning and implementation both inside and outside portfolio; • Build Financial Innovation Plan, including an Innovation/Risk Capital Fund for Sites, leveraging partners.
  14. 14. Interpretation and Education Fund Standard Grants: Guidelines and Eligibility The purpose of the Historic Sites Interpretation and Education Fund (IE Fund) is to support humanities-based planning and programming at National Trust Historic Sites. Eligible projects must include outside humanities scholars and/or interpretive specialists and educators in research, planning, staff training, and program evaluation at individual sites or at two or more sites working together. The Interpretation and Education Fund will award grants to National Trust Historic Sites to support projects that are based in and convey significant humanities themes to the public and use innovative formats and programs to engage audiences. Projects should appeal to general audiences and grow out of sound scholarship used to develop new or enhanced programs and strengthen on-site humanities programming. Eligibility National Trust Historic Sites that are open to the public may apply for grants if they have: • Met the terms and conditions of their agreements with the National Trust • Satisfactorily completed projects previously funded by the IE Fund • Satisfactorily submitted annual reports for current projects funded by the IE Fund • No more than one current project supported by the IE Fund at the time of application, including standard grants and mini-grants Receiving funding from other National Trust grant programs does not preclude a site from receiving funding from the IE Fund. Eligible Programs • Convene an interdisciplinary team to develop or evaluate humanities-based programming, interpretation, goals, strategies, etc. • Retain scholars/consultants for projects such as developing interpretive themes, implementing new programming or exhibitions, or revising guide training materials • Create an internship, for example to hire a graduate student to undertake a specific research project • Enhance the site's digital humanities offerings • Explore and pilot ways to make the site's research materials more accessible • Develop a lecture series or online exhibit • Provide stipends to local teachers, for example if they are advising on the development of student programs • Conduct a humanities-based teacher workshop • Develop a self-guided cell phone tour or a site-related app with humanities-based content
  15. 15. Ineligible Programs or Expenses • Staff salaries • Visitor admission or registration fees to the site • General operations (e.g., overhead, maintenance, utilities, insurance) • Endowment • Capital improvements • Renovation, restoration, rehabilitation, or construction • Acquisition of historic artifacts for collections • Preserving or cataloging collections • Purchasing more than $1,000 in equipment or purchasing equipment that that can be used in other non- educational projects (e.g., computers, software, cameras, chairs) • Fulfilling degree requirements • Research not directly related to improving education and interpretation at the site • Projects that have been completed Types of Grants Standard Grants: Proposals may range from $5,000 to $30,000. These grant applications are reviewed and approved by a scholarly committee and up to five awards are anticipated. Sites are encouraged to partner with other National Trust Historic Sites for larger projects. Mini Grants: Proposals may range from $1,000-$4,999. Eligible activities include those described above as well as support of staff development related to interpretation and dissemination of innovative interpretive practices. Travel expenses and conference registration are eligible expenses. These grant applications are reviewed and approved on a first-come first-served basis by National Trust staff.. Application Deadlines and Key Dates The application deadline for Standard Grants is November 27, 2013, with awards made in January 2014. For Standard Grants, there is one annual deadline. Mini-grants up to $4,999 will be awarded on a rolling basis using an abbreviated application; the pool of mini-grant funds is replenished annually at the start of the fiscal year (July 1). All applications will be submitted online using the National Trust’s grant website at If you have any questions about the website, please contact Katherine Malone-France at Each site may submit up to two standard applications per grant round, but it is not recommended. If submitting more than one application, clearly indicate which application is the highest priority. A separate application with appropriate attachments must be submitted for each distinct project. Different projects cannot be combined into one application.
  16. 16. Project Start and End Dates For Standard Grants, projects must start no earlier than 60 days from the application deadline date (i.e., no earlier than January 27 for the November 27 deadline). Grants cannot support a completed project, either in whole or in part. Grants may support projects already in process, however, they must be separated into clear and distinct phases or components. Funding can only be applied for future and uninitiated phases or components. Any previous phases must be completed before applying for subsequent phases. For standard grants, projects must be completed no later than two years from the date of the award. Mini-grants must be completed within one year of the date of the award. Criteria The applications are reviewed according to the following criteria: • Intellectual Content: Does the project enhance significant humanities themes? Is the intellectual approach broadly conceived, based on sound scholarship, and appropriately analytical? • Reimagining Historic Sites: Does the project reflect one or more of the principles for innovating historic sites developed during the Innovation Lab: • Historic sites listen to and respond to their communities. • Historic sites are dynamic, relevant and evolving. • Historic sites are managed adaptively to be financially sustainable. • Historic sites foster an understanding and appreciation of history and culture that is critical, layered, and sensory. • Historic sites serve as spaces for reflection, conversation and as a nexus for storytelling. • Historic sites are inclusive and reveal the full breadth, depth and often marginalized scope of American history. • Build or Support the Preservation Movement: Will the project engage new audiences with the preservation movement or support existing preservation constituencies? • Audience Interest and Reach: Does the project meet the needs and interests of the intended audience and would it expand the public's understanding of the site? Will the project draw in and engage audiences effectively? Will the project make the site more intellectually accessible to visitors? • Format: Are the program formats appropriate to the ideas, themes, and audience? • Resources: Have the appropriate materials and resources been clearly identified? Are they the right ones for the project and are they available? • Project Team: Does the team have the necessary expertise, interpretive experience, and technical skills? Has a team of humanities scholars been effectively involved? • Workplan: Is the plan of work realistic and efficient? Can the project be completed in a timely manner? • Budget: Are the project’s costs realistic, appropriate, and reasonable? • Strategy: Does the project fulfill long-range or strategic plans? • Track Record: Has the Site completed previous grants successfully?
  17. 17. Conditions if Awarded Acknowledgment: Recognition should be comparable to gifts received from other similar donors. All products created with grant funds should include the following language: “This project is supported by the Interpretation and Education Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, an endowed fund made possible by a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.” Publicity and Copyright: The National Trust reserves a royalty-free nonexclusive and irrevocable right to reproduce, publish, or use a work produced with IE Funds, and to authorize others to do so for educational and informational purposes. Reporting: Progress or final reports must be submitted with any requests for reimbursement or payment. Disbursement of Funds: Grant funds are paid on a reimbursement basis only and generally should be requested at the conclusion of the project with the submission of the final report. For larger grants, an interim payment can be requested as part of a progress report.
  18. 18. 03-20-2013 The Innovation Lab of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Catalyzing Creativity, Consciousness and Community at Historic Sites Created by the Trust’s Innovation Lab for Museums Core Team, November 2012 Challenge: Thousands of historic house museums are among the most vulnerable historic sites and museums in the United States because their existing operating models lack the ability to sustain these sites both culturally and financially. The imperative is as much operational as it is methodological and cultural. Vision: The Sites of National Trust for Historic Preservation will engage the past, shape the present, and inspire the future. Principles: Aligned with the mission, preservation ethic and core values of the National Trust, we resolve to innovate and evolve historic sites so that they adhere to the following principles: • Historic sites are managed adaptively to be financially sustainable. • Historic sites listen to and respond to their communities. • Historic sites are dynamic, relevant and evolving. • Historic sites foster an understanding and appreciation of history and culture that is critical, layered, and sensory. • Historic sites serve as spaces for reflection, conversation and as a nexus for storytelling. • Historic sites are inclusive and reveal the full breadth, depth and often marginalized scope of American history. Objective: The National Trust for Historic Preservation will foster catalytic changes at historic sites to promote powerful connections between sites, communities, and their histories; protect the integrity of structures, collections, and landscapes; and achieve long-term financial sustainability. (over)
  19. 19. For more on innovation and adaptive change work, visit Terms and Quotes to anchor our Innovation and Adaptive Change work Organizational Innovations are instances of organizational change that: o result from a shift in underlying organizational assumptions o are discontinuous from previous practice, and o provide new pathways to creating public value According to Edgar Schein, Professor Emeritus, MIT Sloan School of Management: “Assumptions evolve as repeated successful solutions to problems. What was once a questionable hypothesis about how to proceed becomes a reality that is taken for granted. In order to innovate, organizations have to resurrect, examine, and then break the frame created by old assumptions.” Technical Challenges are ones that can be solved by improving an organization’s current practices. Solutions already exist in the world and experts can be used to align the organization’s strategy with established “best practices.” Adaptive Challenges are those that have no set procedures, no recognized experts, and no evident responses available to meet the challenge or solve the problem. They are more difficult to identify and easy to deny. According to Ronald Heifetz, Senior Lecturer in Public Leadership and Co-Founder of the Center for Public Leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University: “If you throw all the technical fixes you can at the problem and the problem persists, it’s a pretty clear signal that an underlying adaptive challenge still needs to be met. Adaptive challenges are often hard to pin down, less clearly visible than technical ones, and certainly tougher to work on.” Innovation Lab for Museums Framework Phase 1: (July – October 2012) Form an Innovation Team, Research + Focus Phase 2: (November 2012) Project Accelerator – decide on prototype(s), plan for “re-entry” Phase 3: (December 2012 – June 2013) First Assessing-Prototyping Phase – Enroll others, try out the innovation, evaluate, refine & repeat/shape next prototypes Phase 4: (likely July 2013 – December 2013) Second Prototyping Phase + Build Capacity + Share Learning
  20. 20. National Trust Historic Sites Innovation Lab for Museums - Assessment Workshop Summary September 8, 2013 Cindi Malinick, Louise B. Potter Senior Director of Sites Stewardship As the “Captain” of the Training/Assessment Team, I worked with Melissa Dibble to develop an assessment tool and implementation plan for the assessment, a recommended outcome develoed by the Trust’s Innovation Lab Team for our historic sites portfolio from the Airlie Intensive. Melissa in turn recommended we bring in a respected assessment consultant, Jamie Gamble (bio:, to assist us. The National Trust is grateful to EmcArts for the $3000 "content expert" funds to pay for Mr. Gamble’s services. We met in January at EmcArts offices, along with Team members Hunter Palmer and Jason Allen, to discuss the assessment, design tools and processes, and generally, how best to proceed. It was a very productive day, resulting in the development of an excellent framework around which to move forward. At the conclusion of our day, we also reached consensus that we also wanted to model assessment techniques for the site directors in addition to our assessing the sites’ capacities to innovate. We created a general timeline for the assessments (to conclude before our April 10 Santa Fe Site Directors Meeting) and decided that Melissa Dibble would serve as my trainer and as a disinterested 3rd party at our sites in leading the readiness workshops. Prior to each site visit, I asked the Site Directors to distribute to the participants some brief materials that laid out the Core Principles developed at Airlie and that defined innovation (attached). Below is a brief summary of the workshops and outcomes. Assessment Workshops Purpose Concept and Implementation: • To better understand how the Historic Sites Department could support our sites in experimental innovation, whereby the sites build increased capacity to implement substantive changes that are discontinuous with previous practices and test new assumptions, a two or three-member team conducted one-day site visits — Innovation Assessment Workshops — to clarify the site’s level of willingness, embedded challenges, and promising opportunities • Four sites were chosen to participate in this prototyping experiment, March-May 2013 (in order of visit): Cliveden, Philadelphia, PA; Lyndhurst, Tarrytown, NW; Villa Finale, San Antonio, TX; and Gaylord Building, Lockport, IL • Cindi Malinick, Senior Director of Sites Stewardship and Melissa Dibble, Managing Director of EmcArts, led the first three workshops; the Senior Vice President, Historic Sites, Estevan Rael- Gálvez, PhD, participated in the fourth/final workshop at Gaylord Building • Participants at the sites included staff, volunteers, and other key stakeholders, such as Advisory Council/Board members, neighbors, and colleagues o Workshops consisted of participants sharing existing practices and strategies that illustrate innovative responses to the identified key principles, and identifying conditions and processes that support innovation, as well as any existing barriers and challenges Results/What we Learned: As a pilot project to provide insight into our sites’ capacity for innovation, the Workshops: • Provided a platform for stakeholders to express support or concern for innovative practices • Modeled the kind of inquiry - with a “3rd party moderator” - that sites could use to support their transition to a more innovative culture • Confirmed baseline innovation readiness already/continuously assessed by Historic Sites
  21. 21. Department staff • Led a “fishbowl” discussion with all the Site Directors at our Santa Fe meeting around the Readiness Workshops, with each of the participating Site Directors sharing their thoughts and experiences around the workshops, answering questions from the other directors, and enlisting everyone’s insights going forward.
  22. 22. National Trust Historic Sites Innovation Lab for Museums – Prototype Projects Summary December 9, 2013 Cindi Malinick, Louise B. Potter Senior Director of Sites Stewardship During our Site Directors meeting in Santa Fe in April, we spent some time working toward developing ideas for prototyping at sites that would: experiment in innovation; increase the capacity of our historic sites to implement substantive changes that are discontinuous with previous practices; and test assumptions. To support the sites in this prototyping, we made the remaining funds from Phase 3 of the Innovation Lab - approximately $29,000 - available to the sites. Exceeding our expectations, the sites submitted numerous proposals that showed initiative and innovation, created new synergies, offered professional development, and pushed the boundaries of past practices. Per our very “lightly-held” framework, the prototyping projects were small and manageable, both in cost and scope, required a nominal application, focused on the innovation philosophy around testing assumptions, experimentation, and change, and offered a commitment to building a sense of community, raising consciousness and inspiring creativity. I have included an accounting of the funded projects, which ranged from $1000-$5000, and the following is but a sampling of the interesting work our sites undertook this Fall. Staff/Information Exchange between Villa Finale (San Antonio, TX) and Filoli (Woodside, CA) The staff exchange consisted of sending the Building & Grounds Manager from Villa Finale (Orlando Cortinas) to Filoli to work with the Horticulture Manager (Jim Halyards) and other members of that site’s staff. While at Filoli, Orlando had the opportunity to observe large-scale landscaping and gardening techniques. He also interacted with education managers to learn what types of programs were offered to the public at Filoli, and toured other garden centers with extensive landscapes in the area. Expecting to be overwhelmed by the volume of horticulture challenges at a site the size of Filoli, Orlando was pleasantly surprised to be able to offer them tips on organic gardening and vermicomposting practices used at Villa Finale. Both sites benefitted from the interaction and sharing of ideas and knowledge, and while this particular funding paid for a Villa Finale staff to travel to Filoli, the California based site is already planning for its staff visiting Villa Finale in the future. Orlando also offered these thoughts:
  23. 23. My visit to Filoli was not only very enjoyable and informative, but inspirational. Inspirational to me because I was able to connect to other Trust coworkers half way across the US and finally put a face to names I only see in email exchanges. We get caught up in our own little worlds and day-to-day tasks at our own respective sites that we sometimes forget we belong to a much larger organization and diverse group of people that we can connect to. Connect to exchange ideas or to ask for help with problems that perhaps another site has already dealt with and overcome. We have many resources within our own organization, creating a personal connection between sites will open up those resources and allow us to help each other in many different way. Meeting the horticultural staff was awesome, seeing all the hard work they put into their gardens was amazing. Let me tell you the pride they take in their jobs and love of what they do shows at the site. Learning their day to day practices, seeing how they manage such a large and detailed site and learning how self sufficient they are was truly amazing and motivated me come back to our considerably smaller site and really take a look at what we can do here to improve our gardens. Receiving an abundance of general information from the staff was great; it allows me to pick and choose what is relevant to our site and how I can apply what I learned to Villa Finale. I also thought meeting with the various different departments (Education, Programming, Maintenance, Visitor Services, Volunteer Special Events Chairs) was very insightful. Seeing how a different site works behind the scenes was great. It also opened up another resource I could bring back to Villa Finale and pass along to my coworkers for future collaborations and assistance. Filoli’s educational programming was very extensive and successful seeing that and being able to pull from their successes and failures is very helpful for Villa Finale especially since we are relatively new and still developing our programming. Seeing how much of a strong volunteer base they have was motivating, hearing about how they manage volunteers and make them work efficiently was great information for us to consider as we continue to develop and grow our volunteer base. I think it was good that although the focus was on the gardens, composting and the buildings & grounds side of Filoli, I was able to meet and gain valuable information from all the different departments. This allowed me to pass along contacts, ideas and information to my coworkers here at Villa Finale. Being the first Trust employee to participate in the employee exchange program was an honor and an awesome experience. I hope this program does continue. I think other Trust employees will greatly benefit from connecting to other sites and distant coworkers. Experimental Cultural Programming: Glass House and Alex Schweder: Rehearsal Space Over the course of two weeks, New York-based artist Alex Schweder participated in the cultural life of the Glass House campus while occupying a mobile living unit (combining a van, a scissor lift, and an inflatable room) temporarily situated alongside the Brick House. While in residence, Schweder attended Glass House public programs, engaged with visitors and site guides, and worked on a book manuscript about “performance architecture” in Philip Johnson’s library. We anticipated that these activities would reaffirm and enrich the Glass House’s commitment to contemporary culture by leveraging the site’s unique resources to facilitate creative research and development.
  24. 24. We consider Schweder’s project to be a successful pilot residency. Our guides frequently reported that visitors responded positively to Schweder’s presence and reconsidered the role that contemporary art could play on site. In an interview, Schweder stated that the time at the site was invaluable as well as “conducive to thought and imagination.” Furthermore, the themes of the Glass House enhanced his thinking about performance and architecture. Schweder provided valuable feedback about the resources and facilities that would enhance an artist’s experience during future residencies; overall, he confirmed our assumption that a flexible residency model best serves artists. We hope to explore further the infrastructure for our proposed residency program during the 2014 season. Selected press: “Mobile Living Unit” set the stage for artist-in-residence at the Glass House 4846486.php; Van Parks, Bubble Emerges, Man Inside emerges-man-inside-1443687057 Other Selected images:
  25. 25. Consultancies: President Lincoln’s Cottage/ Graphics Facilitation: President Lincoln’s Cottage utilized prototyping grant funds to begin re-imagining how the site tell the story of its work, starting with the orientation theater experience, which sets the tone for the entire site experience for visitors, but also serves as a “summary” for any donor or prospect we want to introduce to the site. The site hired a well-known graphics facilitator firm, Crowley & Co., to lead them in initial exercises. While the site didn’t come away with a definitive new format for visitor orientation, they did have a great brainstorming session resulting in many ideas to start testing. The Cottage, though eager for an outcome in that regard, also recognized that Crowley & Co. might not be the best consultant to finalize a new visitor orientation —they might not have the expertise for whatever format is determined to best for the site’s needs. One surprise outcome of the the project came during a “History Timeline” activity led by the consultant, Deirdre Crowley. She asked various questions and plotted staff responses on a timeline that started 18 months earlier. At the end of the exercise, the staff saw a visual representation of their work over the past year and a half. The sheer volume of notable milestones and other events was staggering. The site learned how important it is to have some time to reflect after such a prolific period, and further, that if the staff was not aware it had just passed through such a busy period, supporters and other key stakeholders probably did not fully appreciate it either. This realization led to a new next step - to create a timeline, as well as visual representations, of the new phase President Lincoln’s Cottage is about to enter. New Research: Oatlands and Garden Shed Signatures/ Belle Grove and Attic Rediscovery In an effort to preserve and understand more about the lives associated with Belle Grove and Oatlands, our historic sites located in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and Leesburg, VA respectively, the staffs oversaw the professional photographing and researching of signatures in either “hidden” or unexpected spaces.
  26. 26. At Belle Grove, signatures on the walls in the attic – a “magical and mysterious” space only accessible up a tightly winding staircase, intrigued the staff, which believes that this tradition of “graffiti” began with Union soldiers who occupied the house during the Civil War – and the signing of the walls continued into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As an innovative project, Belle Grove documented this graffiti through photography and videography – something that had never been done before. The documentation also created additional new opportunities for Belle Grove, including engaging more deeply with the local population—many of whom have family stories about their relatives and neighbors that signed their name on the attic walls and who have wished they could “sneak up into the attic” and confirm if the stories they had heard were true. At Oatlands, a similar project, inspired by Belle Grove’s work, is underway, as that site documents signatures found on the walls of its Garden Shed. The site now has high-resolution images of each of the signatures, as well as several days worth of research on some of the earliest signatures. The eventual product, both images and stories, will be included on the Oatlands’ website, as a beginning of public dissemination. One signature though, of Carla Johnston, has already resulted in an important story. Carla was the Head Gardener from May 1, 2006 to April 22, 2011, and her motto was, “Sustain-Grow-Thrive.” By her signature block, one can discern how important it was to her to build a team of employees and volunteers who lovingly cared for the garden to ensure its health for the future, since she also recognized Richard Moore, Barbara Edwards, Armando Villatoro, Nelson, Villatoro, and Lorenzo Villatoro. Carla felt it was important to bring back certain things from the Carter Family time period (1798- 1897), such as a vegetable garden to reflect the garden’s primary function during that time. Her vision also reached beyond the physical garden to the records that document the garden’s history. She and her team sorted through boxes of photographs and papers and organized them into an indexed filing system. Carla viewed the garden as a spiritual place - that it was a living and
  27. 27. breathing entity - to be nurtured. She hopes the garden will continue to breathe and give life to everyone who enters, offering a place for solace and rest. As the Oatlands project manager recently wrote about the prototyping project: This project has been inspirational in several ways. First, it has enlightened us to new ways of interpreting our buildings. Traditionally the mansion is where we interpret the people associated with Oatlands. The outbuildings, especially one that is as utilitarian as the Garden Shed, are interpreted for their function, architecture, or not interpreted at all. This project has sparked the idea of using this building to honor the people who nurtured the garden, the place where so many memories have been made for owners and visitors. It has made us think about interpreting our buildings for the people associated with them and not just based on the building's function. Second, the project moved us forward with our African American research and gave us a jumpstart for our expanded programming and interpretation in 2014. Third, and perhaps most important, it has given us the idea of using the room to interpret a slave house. Some of our oral history points to the Garden Dependency room(s) as having housed slaves but the stories are third-hand and don't specify which room. The size of the Garden Shed and its location certainly could have housed 4-5 people. Digital Imagery: Lyndhurst Interactivity on the Web Lyndhurst hired Andy Romer, a professional art photographer, to begin documenting the architecture of the site, beginning with the inside of the mansion. Mr. Romer has extensive experience in the field, particularly in documenting art and exhibitions in a variety of different spaces. He produced his thesis project as an imaginary tour from the Glass House (another National Trust Historic Site) bathroom to the pond pavilion, which inspired Lyndhurst to reach out to him – ultimately with the thought of actually connecting Lyndhurst to the Glass House digitally. Below is a link to Mr. Romer’s documentation of some of the rooms inside Lyndhurst – they are outstanding creating these 360 –degree interactive digital environments, and just the beginning of what we all anticipate will be an exhilarating virtual experience.
  28. 28. Innovation Lab / EmcArts Grant Awards FY 2014 J25U010 Site Project Date of Request Requested Amount $ awarded Date of Notification Report Received Amount Spent Balance Notes Glass House Artist Residency at the Glass House 9/24/2013 3,000 3,000 9/25/2013 3,158 (158) Schweder honorarium & exp + Amanda Kirkpatrick Villa Finale Horticultural Exchange (with Filoli) 9/24/2013 2,065 2,065 9/24/2013 2,213 (148) Orlando travel + Filoli PLC New graphic orientation video 9/27/2013 3,000 3,000 3,000 - Crowley & Co consultants Gaylord Student Essay Contest 10/16/2013 2,500 2,500 11/14/2013 2,500 Belle Grove Attic Rediscovery Project 10/4/2013 1,975 1,975 10/4/2013 2,483 (508) Farnsworth Rural Studio Visit 10/18/2013 1,500 1,500 10/18/2013 1,416 84 Site visit to Alabama Chesterwood Pop-up holiday shop in Stockbridge 10/17/2013 3,000 3,000 10/23/2013 3,049 (49) Zurofsky + equip purchase + hourlies + WJ Blueprint + Kwik Print + Ben Hillman + Shoppers Guide Oatlands Green House "grafitti" photography/research/web 9/25/2013 3,000 3,000 11/14/2013 3,000 0 Drayton Hall Shop re-imagined 3,000 3,000 11/5/2013 3,000 - Retail Development Associates Lyndhurst digital web interactive/images of site 5,600 5,600 7,310 (1,710) Andy Romer Photography + Design/Diseno New York for interactive website $28,640 28,640 28,629.27 10.73 56 67 TOTAL AWARDS Balance of Funds Remaining