Grand re-opening of Dumbarton House—a “cool” thing
Historic house museums face many challenges, from fundraising for programs and public interpretation to the conservation of the physical structure. As anyone who owns a home knows, one of the singular greatest maintenance costs is the periodic upgrading of the heating and air conditioning system. Replacement of HVAC systems can be especially challenging for historic house museums, which are particularly dependent on environmental control to help preserve the historic wood, wallpaper, furnishings and other historic features. The new system must be integrated into the historic structure with as few changes to the historic fabric as feasible, the disruption of the visual appearance of the historic house must be kept to a minimum, and funding outside of the regular annual revenue for programs and preparation of interpretive displays must be identified. The funding challenge is intensified by the simple fact that museums usually must close to the public in whole or in part during the installation of the new system. The Dumbarton House in Washington, DC, recently accomplished all of this and re-opened to the public recently with a grand reception.
By Peggy Sands
June 5, 2017
By Sharon Park
US National Park Service, Technical Preservation Services