Museum Studies at Tufts University

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Historic New England to Host Conference on Preserving Affordable Housing

Historic New England presents Preserving Affordability, Affording Preservation: Prospects for Historic Multi-Family Housing on Friday, April 27, 2018, at the All Saints’ Church in Boston. The conference gathers leading advocates in affordable housing and historic preservation to look at the past, present, and future of our region’s historic multi-family housing.

Historic multi-family buildings, such as New England’s iconic three-deckers, once served as “gateway” housing, providing affordable options for renters and a path to home ownership. Can these historically affordable buildings be adapted to meet current needs? Can we preserve affordability while also preserving historic buildings, neighborhood character, and urban density?

Presentations include scholars and practitioners in urban planning, historic preservation, architecture, and politics. The conference explores how cities can approach preserving historic character while balancing sustainability, affordability, and diversity.

Join us for this conversation that brings together voices from historic preservation and affordable housing to consider historic multi-family housing and its place in our communities. See a complete list of speakers and an agenda.

Registration information

Register online or by calling 617-994-6678. The registration fee is $85 for adults and $35 for students with ID. Fees include a continental breakfast, lunch, and reception.

History in Hot Water – the Tea is Brewing Program Gets Smarter at Old South Meeting House

When: Wednesday, February 14 
6:30pm – 8:00pm 
Where: 310 Washington St, Boston, MA 02108, USA 

Description: 
How do we talk about race, gender and power when presenting 1770s politics to students and the public? Old South Meeting House Education Director Erica Lindamood, Museum Educator Kelsey Merriam, and a group of teachers-in-training from Boston University’s School of Education will present a condensed version of our most popular interactive school program, Tea is Brewing™, as a springboard for discussion. This program reenacts the December 16, 1773 meeting that led to the Boston Tea Party. How can educators and participants give voice to African Americans, Native Americans, women, and others who were excluded from the “tea tax meetings”? Join us as we consider how to present inclusive, hands-on history for all!

This program is made possible with funding from the Lowell Institute. FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, registration requested at http://osmhfeb14-18.bpt.me 

(Snow date Wednesday, March 7, 6:30 pm)

Old South Meeting House is accessible for visitors using wheelchairs.

Assistive listening system is available.
Old South Meeting House is committed to accessibility for all visitors and has been designated as an UP Organization by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Access questions? Call us at 617-482-6439

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Museums in the News: Ending Nostalgia at the Heritage Museum

This post comes to us from Danielle Bennett, a first-year student in the History and Museum Studies Master’s program. 

Historic Houses often suffer from two issues that make them less relevant to visitors. One, they
tend to present a history that focuses on great (or semi-great) men from history, ignoring the women,
people of color, working people, and queer people that enabled the actions of these great men (and
ignores the accomplishments of those people in their own right). Two, to combat a lack of interest in the
stories presented, some sites resort to gimmicky semi-relevant events and activities that divorce sites
from their specific historic interest and flatten history into storybooks. It is possible, however, to combat
these problems and capture new audiences for historic sites.
In “Ending Nostalgia at the Heritage Museum,” we learn about the process the new curator at the Museums of Mississauga (Ontario) has undergone to dismantle the nostalgic trappings that used to be present at historic house museums in Mississauga, including horse drawn buggy rides and costumed interpreters. Instead, he has commissioned contemporary artists to stage “interventions” in the houses to strip away nostalgia and re-engage the public with new thoughts about the houses that more fully reflect the diverse communities living in Mississauga.
One of the artist interventions, by Erika DeFreitas, explored how the history presented in historic
houses is staged and highly curated to tell certain narratives. Part of the work, titled “like a conjuring
(bringing water back to Bradley)” was intended to disrupt the understanding of the setting of the house
itself, which was moved from the shoreline of Lake Ontario for the purpose of becoming part of the
historic site several miles inland. The piece included singing wine and water glasses filled with Lake
Ontario water, as well as posters of the waters of the Lake, free for the taking. Another section of the
installation used blown-up photographs of a small textile woven by the hand of an unknown immigrant
worker alongside video of hands (the artist’s) dip dying into indigo dye, meant to evoke unseen labor of
many kinds, including that of the indigo plantation the Bradley family held in the (US) American South.

The program is scheduled to continue, with new installations from different artists coming in. All
the work on display intends to ask questions about the narratives that are on display at historic houses
and what other narratives are suppressed in service to the dominant ones. There are other examples of
using media to recontextualize historic sites, for example the Haas-Lilienthal House in San Francisco, but
the work on display at the Bradley is noteworthy for its intentions to encourage dialogue about larger
questions about who gets to have a history, and what we celebrate when we enshrine certain narratives.

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