Community engagement is important for all museums. However, it is essential for historic house museums. “A dime a dozen” is an adapt viewpoint for many when a signpost notes a local house museum. A feeling exists within North American travelers that if they have visited one house museum (Victorian furniture, late 19th Century images of the owners, and period clothing on display-all come to mind) they have seen them all.
However, when I worked at the Block Island Historical Society this before mentioned point was magnified by the fact our building (a three story Victorian era hotel in New England) was unheated. Thus, we could only have our doors open to the public 4 months a year. Still wishing to be part of our community in these winter months, all I had to do was look out the museum’s front door and see the award-winning weekly newspaper The Block Island Times. First in the winter, and then year-round, I published articles related to both our collection of objects and aspects of local history. Beyond helping our organization become relevant year round, this had the additional benefit of our small museum entering the digital realm.
Here is a sampling. To see the articles click on the following titles.
My dinner with a Prisoner of War
John Hapgood and America’s ‘Ghost Army”
Block Island doughboy lost in France, remembered on Center Road