National Trust Initiative to Innovate House Museum Model

Historic sites program awarded grant to support visitor engagement

The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced today that it has been awarded a grant from the Innovation Lab for Museums program to support an initiative to define, operate and engage the public with new and innovative strategies at National Trust historic sites. The National Trust is among three organizations, out of 31 applicants, selected to receive the grant, which includes facilitation by the Innovation Lab, a retreat with a multi-disciplinary team of thought leaders, and $40,000 to support prototyping at National Trust historic sites.

The Innovation Lab for Museums is designed to help museums develop and test innovative strategies to address adaptive challenges in all areas of their operations. It is presented through a partnership of the American Association of Museums’ (AAM) Center for the Future of Museums, EmcArts and MetLife Foundation.

The National Trust’s “Re-Imagining Historic House Museums” project was selected for the grant based in part on its potential to have a broader impact on one of the largest segments of museums in the United States.

“The National Trust project has the potential to benefit thousands of museums,” said Elizabeth Merritt, director of the AAM’s Center for the Future of Museums. “Historic house museums face grave challenges and the Trust’s leadership can help them adapt to our changing economic and cultural landscape. Through ‘Re-imagining Historic House Museums,’ the Trust can experiment and take risks on behalf of this large segment of the museum field. Projects like this fulfill AAM’s ambition for Innovation Lab for Museums to improve the future of American museums.”

“We appreciate the opportunity to work with the Innovation Lab for Museums, recognizing that wisdom truly does sit where history and place intersect,” said Estevan Rael-Gálvez, vice president of Historic Sites at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “By innovating the house museum model, we seize full stewardship responsibility to raise our sites to new levels of financial sustainability, structural integrity and programmatic quality, while offering a visitor experience that is more critical, layered and sensory.”

In the National Trust’s portfolio of 27 historic sites, 20 of those sites operate using the traditional house museum model. There are 15,000 historic house museums in the U.S., more than four for every county in the country, according to a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts.



The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places., @SavingPlaces