We caught the 7 am ferry from New London CT to Orient Point for a day on eastern Long Island (which was part of Connecticut for most of the 17th-century and was economically and cultural connected into the 19th).
Our destination was the Southampton Historical Museum’s 9th annual “Tour of Southampton Homes.” You know – “the Hamptons” – a famous haunt of the 1/10th of 1%.
So how does the work of local history perform in a place like that? The House Tour was awesome and what you might expect – folks with flashy estates opening up their houses to voyeurs like us – at $100pp – a chance to see inside the lifestyle of the astonishingly provisioned. Continue reading
Readers may be aware of the recent wave of disparagement around this notion that there are “too many house museums.” The “too many” campaign was launched about fifteen years ago by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in part to provide protective cover as they shifted more of the responsibility for their chain of house museums onto the communities where they are located; as they sold off others and also to make a point about adaptive reuse – that every old house worth saving does not need to become a museum – obviously.
It had corrosive effects and has influenced some organizations to disengage from past commitments. It has spawned a sub-culture of consultants offering themselves as a solution to sky-is- falling scenarios that they repeat at professional conferences and in various writings and lectures. To listen to most of what’s out there on the subject you’d think that Americans were turning their backs on local history at unprecedented levels and that the future of the past was grim and foreboding. Continue reading