Collecting, cataloguing, conserving. The heart of a museum is its collection, but how do Museums make decisions and who gets to answer the question, “Why Keep That?” The innovative staff at the National World War I Museum and Memorial have taken that question and built an entire exhibit around it. On this week’s PreserveCast, we’re talking with Stacie Peterson, Collections Registrar, National World War I Museum and Memorial, about the challenge of collecting, interpreting and exhibiting.
Established in 1969, the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture is the nation’s first-ever ethnic commission and has a 50 year track record of exploring, researching, commemorating and preserving important places associated with the African American history of the Old Line State. On this week’s PreserveCast, we’re talking with Chanel Compton, the Executive Director of the Commission, about their work and the exciting future of African American preservation in Maryland and beyond.
Historian, businesswoman, investor, developer, and philanthropist. Colonel Jennifer Pritzker has led an amazing life. A retired Lieutenant Colonel of the U.S. Army, for nearly three decades Col. Pritzker served in the U.S. Army, U.S. Army Reserve, and the Illinois Army National Guard. Today, her legacy of service continues in her philanthropic investments across the nation in heritage, veterans’ issues and beyond. On Today’s PreserveCast we’re talking with a legend of preservation philanthropy. Learn more at: tawanifoundation.org
What do you get when you cross information from George Washington’s own handwritten letters, records from the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, and the latest tech in data systems and digital modeling?
Tom Reinhart is here to explain how George Washington’s Mount Vernon is using and expanding Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology to piece together one of the most detailed architectural models ever.
Happy President's Day from PreserveCast!
For lovers of early American architecture, folkways, crafts and tools, there are few who compare to Eric Sloane. Sloane was a prolific chronicler of the American past – and had a reverence for the way we were that was at moments charming, beautiful and absurd all at once. Today, the legacy of this collector and accomplished artist is being cared for and reinterpreted by the State of Connecticut.
Originally from West Virginia, where he received his B.A. in Social Studies Education from Shepherd University, Andrew comes to the Eric Sloane Museum with experience working at public history sites like Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park, South Mountain State Battlefield for the Maryland Park Service, and Henricus Historical Park managing their 17th century Virginia tobacco farm. In his spare time, Andrew is an avid agriculturalist and supporter of historical trades and may be found climbing the lines, working aboard tall ships. He and his wife are thrilled to be living in New England in a small timber-framed farmhouse with their two pups and cat. Andrew is honored to be a steward of one of Connecticut’s valuable cultural resources.
What we preserve tells as much about us as it does about the history itself. Preservation is a movement with a history unto itself – but all too often that story is overlooked in favor of the history of the sites that are preserved. Whitney Martinko, an associate professor of History at Villanova University, is tackling that story and recently published Historic Real Estate: Market Morality and the Politics of Preservation in the Early United States, an in-depth look at why and what we preserve and how interconnected our preservation landscape is to our market driven economy. On this week’s PreserveCast we’re talking about the impulse to preserve and what it says about us, the preservers.
Food is powerful. It has the ability to transcend artificial divisions and to unite – and it can speak to our history and heritage if we’re willing to listen, or think with our tastebuds.
For today’s guest, using food to tell a story is all a part of his daily work. Brent Rosen is the President and CEO of NatFAB, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, and the Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans, Louisiana.
So, pack your back, but don’t bring any food – we’ve got that covered on this week’s PreserveCast.
The UK’s Kiplin Hall: Exploring the Ancestral Home of Maryland’s Most Prominent Colonists with Director James Etherington
When most Marylanders – or most Americans for that matter – think about the first European settlers they generally begin that story on the shores of North America.
However, in reality, these early colonists had long lives in their native countries before they ever set foot in America. Today’s guest, James Etherington, is the Director of Kiplin Hall – a historic site in England that interprets the ancestral home of the Calverts, one of Maryland’s earliest and most prominent colonial families.
On this week’s PreserveCast, we’re heading across the pond to tell the rest of the story of American colonization.
Our nation is confronting challenges on almost every front – so why invest money in historic sites when the challenges are so great?
Places like Historic Sotterley, located in Southern Maryland, can make the case for why we should invest. Sotterley has worked to become an exceptional cultural and educational resource for its region and state, and through ongoing work strives to help build a better community with local and regional partners.
On today’s episode of PreserveCast, we’re talking with Nancy Easterling, the Executive Director of Historic Sotterley about tackling the complex history of a plantation and how that conversation can improve communities.
As a child growing up in Western New York, with Mohawk cousins, the history and world of native American culture always fascinated me. The story of the native peoples of America speak through many voices – music, art, culture – but all too often are missing from the landscape of museums and historic sites.
Today’s guest, G. Peter Jemison, is a renaissance figure in native culture, art, and heritage and also serves as the Historic Site Manager of Ganondagan State Historic Site, the location of a 17th-century Seneca town in Victor, NY.
On today’s PreserveCast, we will explore the rich history of the Iroquois and learn how their heritage continues in the present.
Foxfire is the bioluminescence created by some species of fungi present in decaying wood. It is a wonderfully evocative word selected by a teacher and student over 50 years ago to be the title for their new project to document life in the southern Appalachians.
What started initially as a student project has live on for decades and is today an open-air museum and outdoor village with over 20 historic log buildings and the Foxfire Archive, which consists of over 50 years of oral history interviews, images, and video.
With the light of the foxfire marking our path, on this week’s PreserveCast we’re talking with Kami Ahrens, the Assistant Curator for the Foxfire Museum about the special work they’re doing to preserve the past.
Nestled among the verdant fields and winding streams of the Genesee River Valley in upstate New York is one of America’s largest living history museums. Founded in 1966, the Genesee Country Village & Museum features 68 historic structures from the 19th century, moved from locations throughout Western New York, a gallery of sporting art, and a nature center and attracts more than 90,000 visitors each year. On this week’s PreserveCast, we’re headed back to the 19th century to talk with Genesee Country Village & Museum CEO Becky Wehle and Curator of Collections Peter Wisbey about the future of open-air museums and the historic trades.
PreserveCast Ep124: Leading from the Front: Aimee Jorjani, First Full-Time Chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
Today’s guest is a first for PreserveCast.
Aimee Jorjani was appointed by the President of the United States to be the first full-time chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation – the federal agency tasked with coordinating preservation policy across the government.
From the halls of Congress to the pueblos of the southwest – Chariman Jorjani is doing her bit to promote preservation and we’ll learn what she’s planning next on this week’s PreserveCast.
ABOUT OUR GUEST
Aimee Jorjani earned Senate confirmation in June 2019 as the first full-time chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP).
Ms. Jorjani has nearly 20 years of experience in the fields of government and cultural resources from a variety of perspectives including both executive and legislative branches, as well as the non-profit sector. Her career began on Capitol Hill in 1999 working as a legislative aide to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). In 2002, she moved to the US Department of the Interior (DOI) and held several positions, including serving as the Deputy Secretary’s Special Assistant for Historic Preservation.
A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Ms. Jorjani graduated from Northern Michigan University with a major in political science and minor in public relations and later earned a Masters in Historic Preservation from Goucher College.
PreserveCast Ep122: What Civil War-Era Medicine Can Teach Us About Today’s Pandemic with Jake Wynn of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine
Walt Whitman once wrote that, “Future years will never know the seething hell and the black infernal background of countless minor scenes and interiors . . . of the Secession war; and it is best they should not—the real war will never get in the books.”
Although the painful, real stories of the Civil War and its grisly impacts may not have been accurately captured by authors – today’s guest, Jake Wynn, the Director of Interpretation at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, is dedicated to telling those stories – and highlighting the grave sacrifices and incredible compassion displayed during that era.
As we confront a medical crisis in our own time, we sat down with Jake to learn about epidemics, disease, and health during the Civil War – and what lessons there might be for our own time.
ABOUT TODAY'S GUEST
Jake Wynn is the Director of Interpretation at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine and the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum. He is a 2015 graduate of Hood College in Frederick, MD. He writes independently about Pennsylvania history at Wynning History and the Pennsylvania in the Civil War blog.
PreserveCast: [BONUS] Hear the Burns Violin from the National Trust of Scotland thanks to The 1772 Foundation
On this special extra edition of PreserveCast, you'll hear from one of Preservation Maryland and PreserveCast's best friends, Mary Anthony, Executive Director of The 1772 foundation as she interviews her friends with the National Trust of Scotland about a very special fiddle. Just to *see* this 270-year-old violin in a glass case, you'd have to travel to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, Scotland – but today you'll **hear** it and all about it...on this special recording of PreserveCast.
Chicago's Glessner House is a National Historic Landmark that was designed by noted American architect Henry Hobson Richardson and completed in 1887 for John Glessner and Frances Glessner. The structure served as an inspiration to architects such as Louis Sullivan, Mies van Der Rohe, and the young Frank Lloyd Wright and helped redefine domestic architecture.
On this week’s PreserveCast, we’re talking to Glessner House’s Executive Director and Curator Bill Tyre about the unique design and residents of this house including, Frances Glessner Lee, daughter of John and Frances Glessner. Lee was the first female police captain in the United States, likely the inspiration for Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote, and is known as “the mother of forensic science.” Her series of extremely detailed dioramas, “Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death,” influenced investigative training for many years. The dioramas were recently featured in an exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery in 2018. The Glessner House will host a Birthday Gala in honor of Lee later this month at which her meticulously detailed miniature model of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will be on display for the first time in six years.
Bill Tyre is the Executive Director and Curator at Glessner House Museum. He’s one of just three full-time staff members who manage and maintain one of Chicago’s most famous homes. Glessner House was saved thanks to preservation efforts that resulted in the formation of both the house museum and Chicago Architecture Center in 1966.
Historic places and resources come in all shapes and sizes. On Maryland’s eastern shore, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum preserves and restores a wide variety of historic resources – including historic boats and ships. Today’s guest, Pete Lesher, the chief curator of the museum is assisting in the latest restoration project of the 1882 Chesapeake Bay nine-log bugeye Edna E. Lockwood. You don’t know what a bugeye is? Well batten down the hatches and check your port and starboard as we set sail for this week’s PreserveCast.
Pete Lesher is chief curator at Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, where he has served on staff since 1991 and now oversees museum collections, exhibitions, and programs. He graduated Lafayette College, holds an MA in history from Columbia University, and studied maritime history at Mystic Seaport’s summer Munson Institute for American Maritime Studies.
Active in his community, Pete is a member of the Talbot County Council, chairs the St. Michaels Historic District Commission, and serves on the boards of the Maryland Humanities Council, Council of American Maritime Museums, and Maryland Heritage Areas Authority. In his spare time he sails, taking particular pleasure in his role as jib tender on the 1882 Chesapeake Bay sailing log canoe Island Bird.
The World War I fighter ace Eddie Rickenbacker once wrote that, “Aviation is proof that given the will, we have the capacity to achieve the impossible.” Today’s guest, Andrea Cochrane Tracey, is leading the effort to preserve and interpret the College Park Aviation Museum, a place that tells that story of conquering the impossible just a few miles from our nation’s capital. The museum is a 27,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility located on the grounds of the world's oldest continuously operating airport in College Park, Maryland. It was founded in 1909 when Wilbur Wright arrived in Maryland to give flight instruction to the first military aviators.
Make sure you tray table is in the upright and locked position as we fly full speed into the past on this week's episode of PreserveCast.
Talking about museums is one thing, but what about the folks on the ground who really make the history happen? Rod Cofield is our guest this week, and while currently the Director of Hisoric London Town and Gardens, he has been on the frontlines of history education his whole career. Rod and Nick spoke about his time as a costumed interpreter in Historic St. Mary’s City, and the many current projects at London Town including their plans to crowdfund reconstruction of the 18th century bar that once stood in the tavern building on site. This is no re-enactment, Rod was right here in studio with us, on PreserveCast.
Preservationists come in all shapes and sizes, but have you ever heard of a preservationist cut-out doll? Today’s guest, Sarah Marsom, is a jack of all trades in terms of historic preservation. She’s a consultant, she’s a co-founder of the Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists, and to top it all off she created the Tiny Activist Project, which raises funds through the sale of dolls that celebrate inspirational figures in preservation, like Jane Jacobs. Sarah and I cover all these programs and more. Stick around for a ~little~ while, on this week’s PreserveCast!
It can happen to anybody; you’re walking along and notice a quarter on the ground, and when you pick it up you realize it’s historic! From the 1950’s or even earlier! It can make you wonder what history lies just beneath the surface. Well today’s guest, Lara Maiklem, does more than just wonder. Lara, also known as the London Mudlark, spends her time scouring the muddy banks of the foreshore of the River Thames, in England, constantly uncovering everyday discarded items that wash up from the river. That is, when she’s not busy moderating the largest online mudlarking community, and writing about the pieces she’s found. Join as Nick and Lara discuss the history of mudlarking, what it takes to try it out yourself, and more on this week’s PreserveCast!
Simply tracing the history of the LGBTQ community, as it is with other marginalized groups, can be challenging for a myriad of reasons. Let alone the challenges of identifying and interpreting historic places that were and are important to the LGBTQ community. Fortunately, Susan Ferentinos is leading the way, and has quite literally written the book on the subject, her book “Interpreting LGBT History at Museums and Historic Sites” won an award from the National Council on Public History in 2016. Susan and our guest-host Meagan Baco spoke about how she came to specialize in LGBTQ history, what unique challenges exist in studying this history, and much more on this week’s PreserveCast.
Big picture questions in public history and historic preservation can sometimes be intimidating to think about. What should the public expect from their historic institutions? How do public history sites remain relevant in a world that seems to change more and more every year? Fortunately, there are people out there like today’s guest, Dr. Taylor Stoermer. Taylor is an academic who knows how to bring history to the people, whether that be as the chief historian at Colonial Williamsburg, a Professor at Harvard and Johns Hopkins, an advisor to Disney on their revamped Hall of Presidents, or on Twitter as the History Doctor. He may not be an M.D., but his home state is Maryland.
A few weeks ago we took PreserveCast on the road, albeit only a few blocks, to visit a truly unique historic place, the American Visionary Art Museum. Nick sat down with AVAM's founder, Rebecca Hoffberger, in one of the museums several repurposed, historic buildings to discuss the history of the institution that houses the world's largest collection of 'outsider' or 'visionary' art. Nick and Rebecca covered a lot of topics, including the decision-making process that led Rebecca to locate in a campus of historic buildings in Baltimore city. Things may seem a little unorthodox, but that's what visionary art is all about on this episode of PreserveCast.
It may not come as a surprise that some historians and museum professionals are not always quick to adapt to change, but that’s only some of us. There are others out there, like today’s guest Frank Vagnone, who not only are capable of adapting, but thrive on inverting the status quo of museums and public history. Frank and I spoke about the book he co-authored, The Anarchist’s Guide to Historic House Museums, his position as the President and CEO of Old Salem, and examples of good ways for house museums to defy expectations. There's anarchy in the USA, the U.K., and beyond on this week's PreserveCast.
Editor's note: The music in the segment came from a 1994 recording of a Virginia Pow Wow, and included a traditional Eastern Woodlands and Iroqouis song/dance called Gadasjot.