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  • 1.  Historic House events insurance

    Posted 06-06-2019 12:01 PM
    Can anyone advise on the cost/benefit of hosting both private events like weddings, and museum public events involving food and alcohol with licenses?   Are historic houses expected to come completely up to compliance with other modern venues?  Is it legal to serve food and alcohol to visitors at special events without a license?  Thanks for any advice to a newbie director here.  I am sure rules change according to location, but personal experience stories would be helpful. thanks.

    Rosie Roche
    Administrative Director
    Glessner House Museum
    Chicago IL
    AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo, Baltimore, May 16-19, 2024, click to learn more

  • 2.  RE: Historic House events insurance

    Posted 06-06-2019 12:03 PM
    I mean licenses, not insurance but can't edit header

    Rosie Roche
    Administrative Director
    Glessner House Museum
    Chicago IL

    AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo, Baltimore, May 16-19, 2024, click to learn more

  • 3.  RE: Historic House events insurance

    Posted 06-07-2019 06:29 AM
    Dear Rosie - this is an issue frought with pitfalls.  If your budget can support it, I would urge against outside use.

    Having opened with that, each state has different dram laws, so you'll need to investigate the need for licenses, whether annual, periodic or per event.

    My advice, should you choose to move ahead with such a plan, is first to develop very specific policies (ask for samples from similar sites) that require the client to sign an agreement committing to them.  The client must submit a certificate of insurance.  Furthermore, make your fees and deposits high.  You may find that you will need to de-install some objects or entire exhibitions for such outside uses.

    Consider engaging an additional staff member to manage the program, either full time or as an outside consultant on a commission basis.  Weddings, in particular, require a huge amount of time and hand-holding, with both the bride and mother-of-the-bride.  Many, many changes of plans, from one day to the next.  Do not believe photographers when they say nothing will need to be moved.  Ensure there is a skilled object handler present when the formal photo shoot takes place.  Otherwise, photographers or guests will move objects themselves.

    Consider your permanent finishes and landscape.  What is the material of your floors? With people's weights rising, and the usual high-heeled shoes worn at formal events, early floors can be permanently damaged.

    Obviously, all of the above comes from experience...I hope it's not been too negative!  I could go on.  I wish you the best.  Vivian

    AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo, Baltimore, May 16-19, 2024, click to learn more

  • 4.  RE: Historic House events insurance

    Posted 06-07-2019 01:09 PM
    Special Event permitting and Liquor Licensing differs by state-- even by city. In Denver, we are allowed 15 special event permits annually (which include liquor licenses and can include cabaret license (alcohol vending plus outdoor music). Since we are limited to 15/ year, we do not offer these to private event rentals. 

    Our rentals are allowed to serve alcohol to guests but cannot sell it. After that, we need to have a TIPS certified bartender for ID checking, but most catering companies have all bartenders certified.

    Hope this helps!

    Erin Poindexter
    Associate, Development and Events
    Clyfford Still Museum
    tel. 720.749.2360

    Explore more than 2,200 works of art by Clyfford Still: 

    In case you're interested, we just published a four-part podcast that exposes the human side of Clyfford Still through the eyes of his younger daughter, Sandra. It was created as an audio companion to our recent exhibition, curated by Sandra, and it's available online-just search Clyfford Still Museum wherever you get your podcasts or text ALL to 720-594-3966.

    AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo, Baltimore, May 16-19, 2024, click to learn more

  • 5.  RE: Historic House events insurance

    Posted 06-07-2019 01:59 PM

    As you noted in your post, licensing requirements for both food and alcohol sales and/or service at private or public events is very much dependent upon relevant laws and regulations in your area.  Alcohol sales or service is often regulated at the state level, while food service regulations are frequently enforced at the county or local level, so it is essential that you determine what regulations apply in your location.  Also, there is often a distinct difference between regulations governing private events and those for events open to the public, as well as differences between "sales" and "service."  For example, in our area some non-profit organizations avoid most, if not all, licensing requirements by offering food and alcohol service only at private, members-only events.  I strongly urge you to either seek the advice of a knowledgeable attorney in your area or inquire directly with the appropriate regulatory authorities.  


    John E. Coraor, Ph.D.
    Founder & Chief Consultant
    Cultural Management Partners LLC
    P.O. Box 1294
    Huntington, NY   11743

    AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo, Baltimore, May 16-19, 2024, click to learn more

  • 6.  RE: Historic House events insurance

    Posted 06-10-2019 12:58 PM
    Hi Rosie,
    I work at a historic house museum, both in collections and as an event coordinator. We host weddings and private events at our historic house museum. We only allow one wedding per weekend between the months of June and October. We have a little more flexibility for smaller private events. Most years our wedding calendar books up well in advance. We allow wedding clients to bring in their own catering and bartending. We do not require any additional permitting if they are not selling alcohol. We do require that each couple take out an event insurance policy, and that any caterer who has not worked at the house before come for a site visit before the event date so that they are aware of our kitchen and site-use rules. Old houses often have quirky power considerations and such, and we make sure to cover all of this with clients and caterers. 

    For public events, rules will vary by state, county, and city. For us, we may serve alcohol for events, but we may not sell it without obtaining a special permit. We are able to apply for single-day event permits easily if needed. If you do sell alcohol, make sure you understand the sales tax implications as well.

    We have found that opening ourselves up for events helps to support our museum work, and also helps us to make connections with our community.

    As for suggestions, I'd highly suggest that you find an on-site event coordinator who is knowledgable about your site. They should know safety procedures of your building, understand the safety needs of your collection, and the quirks, nooks, and oddities that come along with working out of a historic house, as well as be able to make sure clients are happy on the day of the event. Having a knowledgeable person on site to help guide wedding vendors and guests through the day while looking out for the best interests of the house is so important!

    Iliana Morton
    Camron-Stanford House
    Oakland CA

    AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo, Baltimore, May 16-19, 2024, click to learn more