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Historic House Museums in the United States and the United Kingdom


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About the Author

Linda Young is a historian by discipline and a curator by trade; she has taught aspects of heritage and museum studies for more than twenty years at the University of Canberra and Deakin University in Melbourne. Her research revolves around domestic and personal goods in the nineteenth century British world.


Young offers a thought-provoking history and analysis of house museums as a specialized type of museum in Great Britain and especially in the US. She usefully identifies seven categories of house museums (the seventh being the `insignificant' house, often preserved by local activists). The author notes that house museums share some of the same history and challenges of other types of museums (e.g., declining lack of interest in formal tours) but face their own challenges (too much of the same thing, i.e., too many heroes' houses). Abundant references to specific examples of each type of house museum make this a useful guide for professional curators and preservationists rethinking strategies to maintain these as vibrant cultural institutions. Young's final chapter looks to the future by addressing the recent decline in historic house visitorship and discussing various proposed solutions, such as transforming appropriate house museums into community centers. A thorough bibliography emphasizes recent scholarship and current discussion. Non-specialists will also find much to ponder in the motivations of people who preserve history and the relationship of the public to historical institutions. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. * CHOICE *
This much anticipated book is a tremendously valuable contribution to the understanding of historical house museums. Linda Young successfully addresses the conspicuous absence of similar studies in the field with a rare blend of academic rigor and delightful readability. I predict this will soon be required reading for Heritage Conservation students, professional and volunteers alike, to ignite in us a better understanding of the paradoxical world of house museums and their `truths'. -- Edward Bosley, Director, The Gamble House, University of Southern California School of Architecture
Linda Young brings an extraordinary depth of knowledge and experience to her analysis of house museums. Young's insights are on target whether you are trying to understand where house museums came from and where they are headed, if you are working to make yours a success, or if you just want to make a list of fascinating places to visit. -- Carl R. Nold, President and CEO, Historic New England
With Historic House Museums in the United States and the United Kingdom: A History, Linda Young shines a spotlight on the little understood genre of house museums and put them firmly on the museological map. In the time that I have worked on and in house museums no other writer has articulated their nature, potential and challenges so well, nor produced such an enjoyable read on the way. -- John Barnes, Director of Conservation & Learning at Historic Royal Palaces in the United Kingdom, Chair of ICOM's international committee concerning historic house museums, DemHist, and a Trustee of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, England.

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