Monday, January 3, 2011

Conference Presenter: Dean Krimmel

As we get closer to the big conference next month (have you applied yet?), we will be hosting some blog posts from various presenters, committee members, and others involved with the conference. This post is from Dean Krimmel, who is leading a double session on Monday, February 21, 2011 entitled, So What? How to find BIG compelling IDEAS that make your historic site worth visiting.

Ever been challenged by the dreaded “so what?” question? I can hear my professor’s voice now—more than 30 years later. Tell me why you want to research this topic. What can we learn? Why does it matter?

I’m hearing it more and more these days in my work with historic sites and history museums. Except this time it’s coming from the public—usually the local community. Well, the truth is, I’m sensing it rather than hearing the words. People aren’t asking us directly; they’re simply voicing their skepticism by staying away. In growing numbers.

So, what do we do?

First, let’s agree that it’s our responsibility to change people’s perception. Denial and anger only makes it worse. Second, let’s stop relying on mission statements, however well crafted, to communicate our interpretive messages and bring people through the doors. 

What we need are some BIG compelling IDEAS that have the power to stop a distracted public in its tracks, make our sites livelier, and energize our staff, volunteers and board. We need to begin asking ourselves the “so what?” question. We need to dig a little deeper into our mission and the history we interpret.

Are you up for it? Join me and your colleagues at “So What? How to find BIG compelling IDEAS that make your historic site worth visiting.” Together, we’ll get reenergized about the sites and stories we’ve come to love—and discover new ways to convince the public that we matter.

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