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Program Plans

  • 1.  Program Plans

    Posted 04-25-2016 09:18 PM

    Program Planning

    I am trying to complete a program plan for a national historic site, 1500 acres, historic house museum, cultural and natural landscapes. I am finding it difficult to think of new ways of offering tours – we have guided tours in the mansion, self guided on the grounds. Tried I-pads in the mansion and thinking of mobile tours for the grounds/ trails tours. I would be grateful to communicate with others who are perhaps writing a plan themselves , reinventing historic house tours etc.

    Even better if someone had a copy of a program plan to share / or resources that would be useful.

    Thanks for your consideration in advance…..

    Marilynn Havelka

    Ruthven Park National Historic Site

  • 2.  RE: Program Plans

    Posted 04-26-2016 09:24 AM

    I would be interested in this too - I am the director of education at a historic house and am making the transition from science museums.  The learning curve is steep!  Any information and/or advice in program planning in historic house settings is appreciated.

    Miriam Musco
    Director of Education
    King Manor Museum
    Jamaica, Queens, NY

  • 3.  RE: Program Plans

    Posted 04-26-2016 03:17 PM

    Being from an aquarium, we're not in the exact situation so I don't have personal experience to share, but wanted to share something I've heard in passing from other historical sites. It seems some have had successes with using geocaching to get guest to explore grounds differently. It seems to help some tap into new audiences as well.

    Good Luck,

    Lisa Ostrego
    Director Guest Engagement
    John G. Shedd Aquarium
    Chicago IL

  • 4.  RE: Program Plans

    Posted 04-27-2016 11:18 AM

    I have seen historical exhibits that involve each visitor choosing or being given the identity of a person form the past and using that identity as a framework for experiencing events. I'm thinking that one of the Holocaust museums does this but just can't recall for certain. Does this ring a bell with anyone else? I tried Google without luck.

    Susan Zwerling

  • 5.  RE: Program Plans

    Posted 04-27-2016 07:55 PM

    Identification Cards - United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

    Ushmm remove preview
    Identification Cards - United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Each identification card has four sections: The first provides a biographical sketch of the person. The second describes the individual's experiences from 1933 to 1939, while the third describes events during the war years. The final section describes the fate of the individual and explains the circumstances-to the extent that they are known-in which the individual either died or survived.
    View this on Ushmm >

    The founder of the USHMM was Jack Tramiel, Auschwitz survivor. Also CEO of Commodore. No Jack, no PET or C64 home computer. I wonder if his card is available for visitors.

    Tenement Museum in NYC has an interactive site where you can pretend to be an Ellis Island immigrant. (see, Play menu, Immigration game. I'd post the link but it doesn't like how I've turned scripting, popup boxes, etc. off so my link is an error link).

    Michael Kan
    Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience
    Seattle WA

  • 6.  RE: Program Plans

    Posted 04-28-2016 07:57 AM

    I remember this being done some years ago  at the Museum of Tolerance in California, part of the Weisenthaler (sp?) Museum. Hope this helps. 

    Neal Spitzer
    Peekskill NY

  • 7.  RE: Program Plans

    Posted 04-29-2016 01:16 PM

    I believe the Holocaust Museum in Washington used to do this but I'm not sure if the program continues.

    Lynda B Kaplan
    Brooklyn NY

  • 8.  RE: Program Plans

    Posted 04-27-2016 07:24 PM

    > I am finding it difficult to think of new ways of offering tours – we have guided tours in the mansion, self guided on the grounds. Tried I-pads in the mansion and thinking of mobile tours for the grounds/ trails tours.

    Are you talking about developing new tours, how to market the tours you have, figuring out what tours you should be doing, all of the above, something else?  What deficiency are you're seeking to fill? What drives the need for "new ways"?

    How much freedom and training do guides get? I was taught a tour then given the freedom to deviate. The 'same' tour is different depending what guide you get because we have different backgrounds and strengths. So arguably our tours are always new because they are forever changing with tour guide turnover and as guides get more experience at customizing tours for their group.

    Michael Kan
    Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience
    Seattle WA

  • 9.  RE: Program Plans

    Posted 04-28-2016 10:06 AM

    Hi all,

    The Newport Preservation Society is planning on introducing a new app for their mansions.

    I cannot tell if it has been introduced yet, it was to allow visitors to use thier own devices as well as iPads provided by the Society.


    Ed Malouf

    Edward Malouf
    Principal, Content•Design Collaborative

  • 10.  RE: Program Plans

    Posted 04-28-2016 12:18 PM


    You might contact Pilar Garro, Castle Hill Site Engagement Manager at, to discuss the “engagement plan” that I developed for their 2,100-acre site in Ipswich, Massachusetts. One of the biggest challenges involved overhauling the visitor experience at their 59-room “Great House.” A colleague of mine, Dale Jones/Making History Connections, and I developed a range of ideas for breaking the stranglehold of the traditional, information-dumping guided tour that was attracting (or boring) fewer and fewer visitors. Those ideas included various themed experiences facilitated by costumed interpreters and re-trained guides, hands-on participatory activities, new creative uses of interior and exterior spaces, and the incorporation of theater, audio, video, and smartphone technology..

    Dale later worked with Pilar to design and implement a new core tour experience ("Guest of the Cranes") which entailed developing new content and training a mostly-new corps of guides. While this was just one of the many changes proposed by the engagement plan, it arguably will have an out-sized impact on public perception of the site and the staff’s attitude toward serving visitors. I can only hope so, as a plan that doesn’t change people’s mindset (and empower them to make something happen) is simply a new laundry list that soon will be ignored.

    Think big. Good luck!


    Dean Krimmel
    Interpretation & Exhibit Planning
    Creative Museum Services, Baltimore MD

  • 11.  RE: Program Plans

    Posted 04-29-2016 02:12 PM


    We've had success with Achievement Cards that invite guests to do tasks or ask questions provided on the card. I.e. 1) If you want to be a healer, explore Dr. Campbell's office and learn how he uses at least two medical tools and two medicines; 2) Visit the Gregory's herb home to discover the differences between: a poultice, a tincture, an infusion. When the guest finishes, they have achieved this status in Prairietown. The cards are hugely popular, even with some adults. It structures the experience and gives the guest the tools to succeed. Our interpreters interact with guests to assist and challenge them as they use the cards. For example, they might say, "Oh so you want to be a healer? Well, what's your background? What do you know about herbs?" as well as helping them find answers. If they want to be Sheriff, guests have to campaign and get the inhabitants to vote for them.

    We have also just completely changed our historic Conner House, after doing away with the old point and tell tour. Exhibit pieces and hands-on reproductions have been installed, and we have two non-costumed interpreters talking with people. There are many opportunities for guests to snoop in drawers and shelves. We've only had it open five weeks, and the response has been very positive. It has been a clever integration of new technology with historic house setting.


    Catherine Hughes PhD
    Director of Interpretation and Evaluation
    Conner Prairie Museum
    Fishers IN