House Museum Partnerships with Local Governments: A Broken Model?
a. In this article by Gary N. Smith, the author explores the situation of declining public support and attendance of historical properties. He also explains the broken business models that these programs have been using to restore these places, only to have them overrun with overbearing operating and maintenance expenses. Recession times have also caused government and local funding cuts, which have resulted in financial instability for these house museums.
The author uses the example of broken business plans in the case of the city of Dallas’ Dallas Heritage Village. Rapid deterioration of the property and economical hard times had caused them to make brash unwise decisions in expansion and new programs, this to be able to increase attendance. The Dallas Heritage Village found itself unable to sustain all the new costs and in need of adaption. They have since adapted to relying heavily on less personal methods of interpretation such as interactive exhibits, cell phone tours, self-guided tour booklets and labels.
Towards the end of the article the author voices his take on what is needed for the survival of these historical properties, being one to always strive to prove their worth to the local communities. It is only when their worth is proven to the community that they can expect support from it. He goes on to note that properties should not overemphasize growth possibilities as they are niche organizations. Improvements should be made with thoughts toward providing meaningful ways for public engagement or being more relatable.
b. The information in the article can relate to the Gentle house in that the house is going through financial strife in part due to a lack of a good business model or plan to follow. As the properties described in the article the Gentle House has failed to adapt to modern times and financial changing. While the cause to preserve the house and its historical value are indeed noble, a more modern and aggressive advertising plan is needed in order to do so.