Museum Hack and other Interpreters who SLAY

You can ask any history major why they got into history and it certainly varies a lot, but within their response is usually something about visiting museums and historic sites frequently growing up. From that, we all learn things we're passionate about and perhaps choose techniques to emulate.

I'm no exception to this "theory" and I find myself frequently reflecting on some of the best interpreters I've come across on vacations.

I credit my first experience with an exceptional interpreter at Ford's Theater in Washington DC. It was a while ago so I can't recall any precise details, but I do remember that he was the most passionate individual I had seen giving a tour up until that point.

In high school, we were required to complete either 72 hours to graduate or construct and present a presentation outlining what our college major would be. Incidentally I chose the presentation route. Probably since 11th, maybe 10th grade, I was fully aware of public histor…

"A fine beer may be judged with only one sip,...

but it's better to be thoroughly sure." Czech Proverb

HA! Bet you thought I would be taking off for reading week! Well, you-thought-wrong.

However, I will be writing about a rather relaxed topic that is A) about beer and B) relevant to class. Yes, I can do that, but in true Jessica blog writing style, it's going to take me a second to get to the beer part.

In my current manic state as I try to compile as much information about my heritage designation property for my theory class as I can, I couldn't help but let my mind wander just a bit to how my own hometown deals with old buildings.

Depending how you look at it, development can be good as it improves infrastructure, creates jobs, and can be something a city or town can be proud of. But on the other hand, you risk getting rid of beautiful victorian mansions and sturdy warehouses that could be turned into something useful and replace them with glass structures that break up a brick and stone skyline.

Reading, PA in i…

The Steep Hill of History Themed Disaster Rides

Come one, come all! Come take part in the ride of the century! It has water, it has fire, and it has that beloved new invention from Mr. Edison himself, electricity!!!! 

But make sure to keep a look out, disasters are bound to happen! On the fairway, visit our newest attraction, The Johnstown Flood! Be immersed in our cyclorama as it depicts the tragic death of 2000 plus people! Just down the block listen to our lecturer describe the untimely demise of up to 8000 people from the Galveston hurricane of 1900!

Folks, the list goes on. Where there's tragedy, there's money, and where there's money, there's us; waiting to take all that cash from you!


It's funny how things connect sometime. I wasn't sure what I was going to grace your screens with this week, so instead of immediately dealing with that, I was playing around with GIS and story mapping. I was initially messing around with photos from a family trip, but that …

“They may forget what you said...

...but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Carl W. Buehner

I'll be honest, I can't really think of much to base this blog post on, however, my October 18 was pretty fantastic, and I just really have to share that!

I was planning on going to Eldon House in the morning to do some work and then going in again in the evening to help out with their program. Instead, I got the morning off! So being a good history student, I decided to head to campus and attend the lecture by Dr. Craig Simpson on the Gettysburg address.

Now, the civil war is a topic incredibly (as seen in a previous post) close to my heart. I've been to several Northern battlefields as well as some Southern sites, I had the pleasure of giving an interpretive talk on the Gettysburg battlefield about artillery for an undergrad civil war class, and even the town of Shippensburg where I completed my undergrad was occupied by Confederate troops prior to the Battle of Gettysburg.

The Civil War is simply ubi…

"If you can't get the people to the museum

then bring the museum to the people." Me, it was me, I said that.

Museums like the Smithsonian have it easy. Well, for the most part. The museums are known worldwide and with a massive range of subjects and topics, it's pretty hard to not find something of interest even to the most stubborn of visitors.

The entire concept of a target audience is something all museums should keep in mind. Speaking from experience, I might delve deep into a specific moment in U.S. history, but my dad might hang back. Same with vice-versa - my dad will spend all day in a museum about planes and their components while I stare glassy-eyed at the 60th engine of the day.

Sometimes that's just the way people are. Not every person that walks into a museum is going to feel the same way as another, but at least they are setting foot in the door. Where we really have a problem are the people who just do not go to museums.

In our theory class, we read an article by Marilyn Hood titled, "Staying A…