Sunday, December 25, 2011

Planning an Open House for an Archive

Earlier this year I took a workshop on running an Archive. One of the points that they brought up was that an Archive is not just for preserving historical items. These items are there for a reason; they are to be used by someone - a researcher, an educator, an historian, etc. That’s why I decided to hold an Open House. This will come at a really good time in our Society too, because we are trying to raise funds for a new building. It could be potentially important to show the prospective donor what an Archive is all about. We need a good environment to keep our treasures in; we need to let them know what we do here. We need to let them know why it is important for our county to keep our history preserved somehow and somewhere.

On doing research for our Open House - I had never done one before – I went to the internet and did a Google search to try find some good advice on how to hold an Open House. I got a hit that came up as the Open House Event Toolkit on the Wisconsin Historical Society’s webpage:

Their Do-It-Yourself Guidelines lay out what needs to go into planning your Open House. The areas it covered were: Whom To Invite (historical organizations, prospective donors), When to Hold the Event (limit the hours open?), What To Show (pick interesting items for the general public), Prepare Your Collection (prepare the layout and label everything), How to Publicize the Event (invitations or public notice?), Providing Refreshments (this is optional), and A Timeline for Preparations (had no idea the planning it took). All this was very educational and some of it I had not even considered.

So now I have set a date, February 6, 2012. I have started going over their Guidelines making notes on what needs to be done and when. I’m not sure whom to invite outside of other historical organizations so I am going to get some advice from our fund-raising people. They may already have a list of people they regularly contact. Next I need to put together an advertising plan. Then with a couple of my co-workers we will start going over what type of items we want to show. As the day grows closer I will post this event on our Facebook page, “Brown County Historical Society.” If live close by please pay us a visit. If anyone else has some advice for me please let me know.

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