Historic preservation education initiatives at historic sites

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2014-05

Authors

Hereford, Margaret F.

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Abstract

While historic sites have been used and operated as educational tools in the form of museums and public spaces since the emergence of the field of preservation, educational outreach frequently fails to include preservation concepts within these efforts. This thesis attempts to answer the question of “Why is preservation education lacking or absent at historic sites, and how can it be an integral part of a historic site’s programming, presentation, and interpretation?” To investigate this question, scholarly research was combined with first hand experiences of sites and interviews with stewarding organization staff members. Through this investigation, emerged a contextualization of historic sites within the fields of preservation and museum studies, a relation of the current state of preservation education to the opportunities available by means of physical sites, and a connection of preservation concepts to museum education theory. Multiple means of educational implementation and execution were explored, as were target audiences and organizational management structure. The result is a collection of examples in practice, explanations of missed opportunities, and recommendation for effective implementation. Collectively, these results reinforce the importance of using physical sites available to the public for educational purposes not limited to historic significance, but including preservation in all facets, as a means of introducing the field along with its impact and importance to the general public as a means of generating an interest that will be redirected into their communities.

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