Fort Ticonderoga recently received an Innovation in Interpretation Award from the Museum Association of New York (MANY) which recognized Fort Ticonderoga as a leader in historic interpretation. The award was presented at MANY’s annual meeting in Albany, NY at the end of March.
“Fort Ticonderoga Interpretative Department, developed in 2011, has in remarkably short time become a national leader in historical interpretation, setting and implementing unparalleled interpretive standards,” said Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga President and CEO. “The program outcomes under the leadership of Director of Interpretation Stuart Lilie have seen nothing less than amazing results in attendance, school field trip participation, and increased Scout attendance. Through the creation and implementation of a unique interpretive approach, Fort Ticonderoga has defied the professional trends and has embarked on a major transformation.”
“By highlighting a specific group of soldiers during a specific year in the Fort’s history, staff has been able to faithfully study and recreate the experiences of soldiers at Fort Ticonderoga,” said Stuart Lilie, Fort Ticonderoga Director of Interpretation. “Utilizing the wealth of resources in Fort Ticonderoga’s world renowned collections, staff is able to pattern garments, shoes, and accoutrement and faithfully reproduce the items for the upcoming season’s use.”
Each year Fort Ticonderoga highlights a specific moment in time –a specific year and regiment that served at the Fort. In doing so, Fort Ticonderoga has become the only site in the world to take this unique and defining approach, which allows for staff to faithfully research a topic, develop the associated reproduction material culture, and present a dynamic and innovative living history program each year to its guests. The annual seasonal narrative informs interpretive activities such as fatigue duty, gardening, foodways, and trades. The outcome of this revolutionary approach has resulted in significant growth in new marketing opportunities (each year is new at Fort Ticonderoga!), increased and repeat attendance, and a 54% growth in Friends membership to Fort Ticonderoga since 2011.
The new program debuted in 2011 with the 1759 experience of Massachusetts Provincials. In 2012 staff interpreted the 1775 experience of Connecticut troops and in 2013 the 1755 experiences of French soldiers from the Languedoc Regiment. In 2014, the interpretive focus will be on the Fourth Pennsylvania Regiment at Ticonderoga during the year 1776.
The Fort Ticonderoga Association is an independent not-for-profit educational organization which serves its mission to ensure that present and future generations learn from the struggles, sacrifices, and victories that shaped the nations of North America and changed world history. It serves this mission by preserving and enhancing its historic structures, collections, gardens and landscapes; and educating the public as it learns about the history of Fort Ticonderoga.
Welcoming visitors since 1909, it preserves North America’s largest 18th-century artillery collection, 2000 acres of historic landscape on Lake Champlain, and Carillon Battlefield, and the largest series of untouched 18th-century earthworks surviving in America.
Fort Ticonderoga offers programs, historic interpretation, tours, demonstrations, and exhibits throughout the year and is open for daily visitation May 10 through November 2, 2014. Fort Ticonderoga is accredited by the American Association of Museums and pursues its vision to be the premier cultural destination in North America.
Photo: Stuart Lilie, Director of Interpretation at Fort Ticonderoga.