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Historic House Call: Interpreting Historic Landscapes

November 2, 2017 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Free – $40
An AASLH Webinar

Over the past decade there has been much hand-wringing about the decline and fall of the historic house museum and much attention paid to strategies for resuscitating or abandoning them. All the while, a key resource for expanding the meaning of historic sites, deepening the visitor experience, and enhancing sustainability lay right outside the door: the historic landscape. This webinar will examine the variety of ways in which sites across the country are approaching the interpretation of diverse historic landscapes, from large estates to small urban sites, in order to expand a site’s significance and stimulate engagement for contemporary audiences. Join Sean Sawyer as he presents case studies focused on extracting lessons from the front lines of historic landscape interpretation.  Issues examined will include: shifting organizational culture and public perception to understand the significance and value of historic landscapes; the development of site-wide interpretation to include historic landscapes as integral, rather than supplementary; the inclusion of viewsheds within the interpretation of historic landscapes; the logistics of landscape tours, including pricing, guide training, interpretive technologies, accessibility, and weather concerns; and tactics for community engagement through the historic landscape.

At the conclusion of the webinar, participants will: 1) look at their site’s landscapes with fresh eyes and be inspired to promote and support their research and interpretation; 2) appreciate historic landscapes as integral, rather than supplementary, to historic structures and collections; 3) understand the concept of viewsheds as integral to historic landscapes; 4) learn about addressing the logistics of landscape tours, including pricing, guide training, interpretive technologies, accessibility, and weather concerns; and 5) appreciate historic landscapes as offering potent opportunities for community engagement.

About the Speaker:

Sean Sawyer, Washburn & Susan Oberwager President, The Olana Partnership, Hudson, NY
A native of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, Sean received his Ph.D. in architectural history from Columbia University in 1999. Sean joined The Olana Partnership as President in May 2015.  Prior to this, he was the Executive Director of The Royal Oak Foundation, the American partner of the National Trust of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Sean began his career as Executive Director of the Wyckoff House & Association, focused on the operation of the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. He currently serves on the Historic House Committee of the American Association for State and Local History and the Board of Directors of The American Friends of Attingham. Since his appointment as President of The Olana Partnership in May 2015, Sean has led the development of historic landscape restoration and interpretation at Olana State Historic Site.  As Executive Director of the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum, Sean oversaw the restoration of the historic landscape and the development of innovative community engagement projects that engaged the historic farm landscape.

About the Facilitator:

Jessica Stavros has been in the museum industry and local historian for the past 13 years.  She received a Bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Louisville and a Master’s degree in Business Communication from Spalding University, both of which were fully funded by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation in Washington DC.  Jessica has been with Indiana State Museum & Historic Sites since 2012, first as the Site Manager of the Culbertson Mansion in New Albany, IN and now as the Development Director for the system’s eleven Historic Sites.  Jessica serves on several non-profit boards & committees, including Louisville Public Media and Happy Birthday Park, and when she is not working, Jessica keeps busy with her husband & two daughters.

Historic House Calls are online discussions featuring hot topics for historic house museums. Led by experts in the field, and organized by members of AASLH Historic House Affinity Group Committee, they encourage attendees to join in the discussion.

Learn more and register.


November 2, 2017
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Free – $40
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