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Strategies and ideas to connect people with historic places
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    Mission statements are required part of non-profit organizations, but I’ve often found that they’re treated like death and taxes–inevitable but you don’t want to think about it. In museums and historic sites, you can tell when they’re particularly useless when you can swap the name of the organization with another and it still makes sense.  […]

    MaxJames Madison's Montpelier new business card and mission statement.MaxJames Madison's Montpelier new business card and mission statement.

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    H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest, chairman of the American Revolution Center today announced that Michael C. Quinn will join the organization as president and CEO effective April 1, 2012. Quinn will oversee all aspects of the development of The Museum of the American Revolution, to be built in the historic area of Philadelphia. Since 1999, Quinn has […]

    MaxMike Quinn 2012MaxMike Quinn 2012

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    James Madison’s Montpelier in Virginia sports some very attractive interpretive signs that looked so good, I had to figure out how they were made. With a bit of prodding and poking, I discovered they were printed plastic attached with Velcro to a sturdy wooden frame.  Very clever!  The signs are great looking even after a […]

    MaxMax

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    The May 2012 issue of Harvard Business Review arrived a little early to my mailbox, but I couldn’t stop from sharing a great article on engaging customers in business world that can easily be translated to engaging visitors and building support for historic sites and museums.  In “To Keep Your Customers, Keep It Simple,” Patrick […]

    Maxhbr-keep_customers-1hbr-keep_customers-2Maxhbr-keep_customers-1hbr-keep_customers-2

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    The rich red clay at Montpelier, the Virginia home of the Father of the Constitution has given up more secrets: the remnants of James Madison’s barn and threshing machine, and evidence that Dolley’s son destroyed both in an attempt to remove the machine from Montpelier before the new owner took possession. As archaeologists excavated the […]

    MaxMax

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    The Montpelier Foundation has appointed Katherine L. “Kat” Imhoff as president effective January 1, 2013.  The Foundation manages James Madison’s Montpelier, where Madison was born, developed his ideas for the Constitution, and retired after his presidency.  Imhoff returns to Virginia after a successful five-year tenure as State Director for The Nature Conservancy in Montana, where […]

    MaxKat ImhoffMaxKat Imhoff

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    Last Friday I was in Virginia and thought I’d share what’s been happening at James Madison’s Montpelier and Belle Grove, two historic sites that I’ve been associated with for more than a decade.     The day started with a meeting of the Interiors and Interpretation Committee at James Madison’s Montpelier to see the most […]

    MaxJames Madison's Montpelier as seen from the entry drive.Montpelier's Interiors and Interpretation Committee.Drawing Room at Montpelier.Committee visiting the Dining Room of Montpelier.Committee in Madison's office.Belle Grove retirement party for Elizabeth McClung.Kent and Elizabeth McClung and Max van Balgooy.Belle Grove retirement party for Elizabeth McClung.Model unveiled by Jane Dodds and Scott Guerin of 4274 Design Workshop.Detail of Belle Grove in 1820 model.MaxJames Madison's Montpelier as seen from the entry drive.Montpelier's Interiors and Interpretation Committee.Drawing Room at Montpelier.Committee visiting the Dining Room of Montpelier.Committee in Madison's office.Belle Grove retirement party for Elizabeth McClung.Kent and Elizabeth McClung and Max van Balgooy.Belle Grove retirement party for Elizabeth McClung.Model unveiled by Jane Dodds and Scott Guerin of 4274 Design Workshop.Detail of Belle Grove in 1820 model.

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    At a recent board meeting of the Montpelier Foundation, the organization that manages James Madison’s Montpelier, I discovered they had developed a nice device to keep table tents neat.  I often create table tents or nameplates on my computer, folding a letter-sized sheet in half.  Despite using cover stock to give them some heft, they […]

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    In this 34-second time-lapse video, James Madison’s Montpelier in Virginia constructs a log “field quarter” (a dwelling for enslaved field workers).  It’s first constructed in a building to cut and fit all the pieces in a protected place during winter, then re-assembled in the field on a beautiful spring day in 2015.  It’s now on […]

    MaxMax

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    James Madison’s Montpelier is in the midst of expanding its interpretation of slavery thanks to a generous gift from David Rubenstein.  To explore potential interpretive techniques and content that could be adopted, we conducted a three-day research trip to visit a wide range of sites in Louisiana. Staff had visited most of the sites in […]

    MaxResearch Trip 2015 MapOak Alley Plantation, Louisiana.Oak Alley Plantation, Louisiana.Whitney Plantation, Louisiana.Laura Plantation, Louisiana.Whitney Plantation, Louisiana.West Baton Rouge Museum, Port Allen, Louisiana.West Baton Rouge Museum, Port Allen, Louisiana.Whitney Plantation, Louisiana.Shadows on the Teche, New Iberia, Louisiana.Oak Alley Plantation, Louisiana.Shadows on the Teche, New Iberia, Louisiana.West Baton Rouge Museum, Port Allen, Louisiana.Laura Plantation, Louisiana.MaxResearch Trip 2015 MapOak Alley Plantation, Louisiana.Oak Alley Plantation, Louisiana.Whitney Plantation, Louisiana.Laura Plantation, Louisiana.Whitney Plantation, Louisiana.West Baton Rouge Museum, Port Allen, Louisiana.West Baton Rouge Museum, Port Allen, Louisiana.Whitney Plantation, Louisiana.Shadows on the Teche, New Iberia, Louisiana.Oak Alley Plantation, Louisiana.Shadows on the Teche, New Iberia, Louisiana.West Baton Rouge Museum, Port Allen, Louisiana.Laura Plantation, Louisiana.

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    On Monday, June 5, James Madison’s Montpelier in Virginia opens “The Mere Distinction of Colour,” a major exhibition on the history and impact of slavery in the United States. It examines slavery both from the perspective of James Madison and his peers as well as from the 300 men, women, and children enslaved by the Madisons […]

    MaxMax

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    Educators and interpreters are increasingly expected to engage the community to build support, attract audiences, and confront contemporary issues. So how do you get started? What does an effective community engagement project look like? How do you maintain it? On Thursday, September 7, 11:00 am – 12:15 pm at the AASLH Annual Meeting in Austin, I’ll […]

    MaxEngaging_ProgramsMaxEngaging_Programs