Author Archives: Taylor Stoermer

Taylor Stoermer

About Taylor Stoermer

A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Taylor was educated at the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Virginia where he earned his PhD in American History. Taylor’s scholarly work focuses on the interaction of political economics and political culture in the 18th-century Atlantic world. A public history consultant for museums and historic sites, he appears regularly in print, on the radio, on television, in public lectures, and in social media to comment on the people and ideas of American history and their modern relevance. Currently he is an adviser to C-SPAN for history content, a regular contributor to the Journal of the American Revolution. He was formerly the director of strategy, development, and historic interpretation at Historic Huguenot Street, the chief historian of Colonial Williamsburg, an invited scholar at Brown and Cambridge universities, and has held fellowships at Brown, Yale, the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, and the Huntington Library, among others.

A Good Story: The Lifeblood of a Public Historian

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Tell A Good StoryAlmost everyone within sniffing distance of public history these days, in any capacity, is on the lookout for the silver bullet that will somehow “rescue” their particular site, or organization, or even the entire field, from the edge of a financial ruin.

For many boards and staff, technology has become the most sexy aphrodisiac around. Even though I haven’t yet seen it effectively used, partly because it becomes dated so quickly, museum and other sites continue to reach for phone tours, or apps, or touch screens, to add that extra element of engagement that will magically connect to those ever-elusive younger audiences that sites yearn to attract. Continue reading

What Museum Directors Can Learn From Game of Thrones

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game of thronesI’m usually the first to groan, occasionally quite loudly, when museum leaders tap into popular culture to gratuitously make their own points, especially when using the most tenuous of connections to justify otherwise unrelated programming in the name of increasing visibility.  And what possibly could the fictional, pseudo-medieval realm of Westeros, currently being fought over in its fourth season on HBO, have to teach museum directors?

After all, some of the series’ hallmarks—rampant nudity, murder, profanity, sex, and even incest (and all that in just the first episode)—tend to have very little to do with presenting the past to our modern guests, other than, of course, that it reflects the operative imperative of human nature that informs our work: people are messy, which is what makes telling their stories, and telling them well, such a terribly compelling endeavor. Continue reading