History Dis-placed: Transitioning Historic Houses to a Virtual Experience
This edited volume concentrates on the unique histories and challenges of house-museums. In addition to being historic landmarks, house-museums can be sites of civic engagement and reflection; centers for activism and cultural discourse; and places for public events and gatherings. In the digital age, house-museums have had to renegotiate these identities and interactions with contemporary audiences through innovative practices. This was further challenged when museums across the globe were suddenly forced to pivot to, for many, an unfamiliar online discourse during the 2020 Covid-19 crisis. Many of the educational tropes utilized to great effect by house-museums – including living history and other direct contact strategies with an active audience – had to be jettisoned for on-line engagement. Museum staff were challenged to create content, develop educational resources, and provide access to collections with little preparation and amidst severe budget cuts. There was, perhaps, never been a greater challenge to museums around the globe, and historic homes were among those hardest hit in unprecedented times.
This edited volume asks for submissions that address, but are not limited to, the tactics taken by house-museums after February 2020, when it was clear that closing was imminent and re-opening in the near future was not an option. How do museums that strive to continue to bring in-person encounters to life continue to do so through an on-line presence? How can these site-specific museums re-create or re-produce an aura or indexicality of space and place – an interaction that differs somewhat from other types of museums? What types of decisions need to be made when re-creating the museum collection for on-line perusal, which, for most house museums, are traditionally and fully experienced through the domestic spaces in which the collection is housed and the site-specificity of the museum? How do those at house-museums envision these decisions to move content on-line affect the future engagement of the museums with visitors and educators?
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