Museum Studies at Tufts University

Exploring ideas and engaging in conversation

Category: Uncategorized (page 2 of 12)

Living in the Past: The Heritage House Program at Strawbery Banke Museum

This week’s contribution comes from Emma Cook, who is in her second year in the Masters of Museum Studies/History program, and  is the Collections Department Intern at Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, NH. 

In a transitional world, museums face the pressures to stay relevant to society. Change has redefined the public’s idea of museum experiences and definitions of patriotism. Public demand has grown for museums to reinvent themselves in ways that will increase public engagement and relevance, while maintaining sustainability in historic preservation and financial affairs. Strawbery Banke has many traditions and has relied on many traditional practices, but the museum understands its need to adapt and remain flexible in an ever-changing society. What separates Strawbery Banke from other outdoor museums is its preservation of one of the oldest neighborhoods in urban America, spanning a lifetime of nearly four centuries that has been brought back to life by the museum and the city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The Heritage House Program creates the opportunity for community members to live and work within a historic American neighborhood, while providing financial sustainability in the preservation of its historic houses.

Strawbery Banke consists of 39 preserved historic buildings, with many on their original foundations. These historic houses interpret the past culture and lives of individuals who resided in Puddle Dock from the 1690s to the neighborhood’s decline in the 1950s. The Heritage House Program was designed to revitalize underutilized buildings on the Strawbery Banke Museum property for rental space and museum revenue. The program not only preserves the historic structures and restores them to a specific period in time; it provides residential and commercial space to the local community, and a substantial income for sustainable pursuits. The Heritage House Program contains 15 buildings that, when completed, will provide contemporary residential apartments and offices. So far there are seven completed apartments and six buildings containing 31 offices. The work is funded by individuals, corporations, grants, and in-kind contributions with a percentage of the annual rental income from each unit reserved for the preservation fund to ensure continued maintenance and funding for all historic houses on the museum campus.

Presently, the Penhallow House is in the workings of a complete restoration with Heritage House Program funding. This historic house is a site on the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail and the only “saltbox” house remaining at Strawbery Banke Museum. Further planning and communications are underway in developing the future role of this historic house at Strawbery Banke Museum.

Since its rescue from the 1950s city renewal projects, the Strawbery Banke Museum has not only found control of its own site and economy, but also shared authority with its community and city history. The vast changes in the museum’s look, function, and internal structure, over the years since its establishment in 1978, demonstrate an ever-changing dynamic of a reinventing museum. The ability to not only find funding through modifying excess space, but also including the community to utilize this space, is a unique strategy worth learning from, as the Heritage House Program exemplifies historic preservation with an outcome of community inclusion through rental space and revenue to support museum operations and exhibition space.

Weekly Jobs Roundup!

Here’s our weekly roundup of new jobs. Happy hunting!

New England 





Hello from the New Editors!

Hey everyone! We are both so excited to step in as your new editors for this upcoming year.  To get started, we have some brief bios about ourselves, so you can get to know us a little better. We look forward to hearing from you and working with you throughout the next 12 months! As always, feel free to send us any articles or material that can be used for future blog posts.

Andrea Woodberry– Hi everyone! My name is Andrea, I am heading into my second year in the Tufts Museum Education program, and I’m excited to be editing the blog with Dominique this coming year! I am originally from Minnesota and graduated last year from Luther College in Iowa with a history major and minors in French and museum studies. I said goodbye to the corn fields and blue lakes to pursue a degree in museum education. History was my entry point into a love for museums and through an internship I quickly realized museum Ed was the place for me. I love finding points of connection between museums and their visitors. I see museums as places for people to come together and am passionate about developing ways for museums to continuously deepen new and existing audiences’ experiences. While my background is in history and culture museums, I love discussing how museums of all disciplines can learn from each other to benefit the whole field. In my free time I like to bake, read, and explore. I’m looking forward to connecting with you all through the blog this year over events and topics in the museum field!


Dominique Marcial Hey museum-lovers, I am a Northeast Pennsylvania native with an affinity for canonical literature; Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, The Great Gatsby, you name it, I’ve read it. I am a frequent jogger, with a tendency to listen to Indie to get me through the pain past mile 5. I have a Bachelor’s degree in  English Literature (surprise, surprise) from Lafayette College, and originally intended to become a teacher. Yet after a summer internship at a local museum, I fell in love with the idea of free choice and object based learnings in the museum setting. Low and behold, here I am, pursuing a Master’s in Museum Education at Tufts. I also work at the Concord Museum and intern at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.

My love for museums stemmed from an early age. I was the type of child who would ask to go to local historic houses or museums as birthday gifts. The narratives behind the objects drew me in. As an ardent reader, I loved the stories behind the objects regarding past owners, or creators of the objects, as well as their purposes. As a woman in my early twenties, with a little more museum experience under my belt, I can say that I am truly invested in the community relations and services a museum provides to its local sphere of influence. Whether that be through school programs, senior tours, or public programs, the museum acts as a medium of information regarding not only its collection, but also contemporary social connections and conversations. It is truly up to us as museum professionals to make more accessible connections with the community to be a source of education, contemplation, and even change.

Summer through a Social Lens

The first post of this new editorial season is going to come from Dominique, discussing three Boston museum exhibits this summer that hone in on social provocation, demonstration, and change. Here is a cursory look at (in my opinion) the most socially contemplative and thought provoking installations and exhibits around Boston this summer, that will call you to stop and reflect upon prevalent topics such as immigration, mental health, and forms of resistance. But hey, if your travels don’t pull you to Boston this summer, this will also provide a basis for these exhibits which you can further explore through the omnipotent internet.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston “I must tell you what I saw” Objects of Witness and Resistance.

On Display until July 30, 2017

This extremely powerful exhibit hosts a wide array of objects meant to provoke conversation regarding genocide, mass violence, and responses to these types of hate crimes around the world. The exhibit expands through millennia ranging from ancient depictions of war and Babylonian deportation to J.M.W. Turner’s Slave Ship to the Armenian Genocide. This exhibit is bold, only housing eight paintings, but it is provocative. The pieces demand discussion and beg to be strung together in a timeline that acknowledges the atrocities and devaluation done to people who fall under the category of “different” or “oppressed” in comparison to the majority population at any given time.

Museum of Science “Many Faces of our Mental Health”

Opens May 27.

99 facial portraits will be on display throughout the summer at the Museum of Science depicting the appearances of those who suffer from bipolar disorder and/or schizophrenia, and individuals who are a support system for those suffering from mental health conditions. The exhibit also features more biological components of mental health, such as DNA models that highlight specific genes and traits, and data that explore findings in professional research regarding mental health. The exhibit balances the more human side of mental illnesses with the biologically based research of diseases, which does an excellent job of encompassing a holistic understanding of mental health.

Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston- Nari Ward’s “Sun Splashed”   

On view until September 4,2017

Jamaican-born artist Nari Ward takes a materialistically fresh approach to the social topics of citizenship, urban spaces, and immigration with his found-object installations. The media in this exhibit is unique to say the least. There is a compilation of photography, sculptures, film, and installations made from shopping carts, and a fire escape. The pieces in this exhibit are meant to be reflected upon from their very material makeup to their spatial placement. What does it mean to be an immigrant? What defines urban life? These are all questions to be asked.

Hopefully these will exhibits will make it on your summer museum list and will evoke a response to the social conversations they are trying to induce.








Decorative Arts Trust Scholarship

The Decorative Arts Trust is offering a scholarship to participate in its upcoming Study Trip Abroad to Scotland, June 7-16, 2017. This opportunity is available to graduate students and young professionals whose research focuses on European decorative arts, particularly of the British Isles. The tour itinerary is found on the Trust’s website. Interested parties should submit the following materials to Matthew Thurlow, Executive Director, by March 31: a 500-word essay detailing the prospective impact of this experience on applicants’ academic and professional goals as well as their current experience relative to the range of material culture and architecture included in the tour; a letter of recommendation from a faculty adviser or employer; and a CV or resume. The scholarship will include the full cost of registration as well as a stipend toward airfare. Questions and applications should be directed or 610.627.4970.

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