Due to construction on Derby and Essex Streets, parking at The Gables may be limited. Click here for more information: https://7gables.org/2020/07/19/derbystreet

A Refreshing Change

January 25, 2020 Published By Julie Arrison-Bishop

Now that our January shutdown is over, The House of the Seven Gables is presenting the refreshed guided tour experience of the famed mansion. Over the past few years, the staff has been working on planning how to share our history with visitors. The tour is a big piece of that puzzle.

This change process started with the architectural stabilization of a room in the 1668 portion of The House of the Seven Gables. The new space was able to be included on the tour route, but the question remained of how to share the room’s history. This varied story of the room led to a bigger question – how do we share the history of the many spaces and places at the historic site?

Our guided tour has been a signature experience since The Gables opened as a museum in 1910. Over the decades the tour had often evolved with new historical research. Through the interpretive planning process with ObjectIDEA, Gables staff realized it was once again time to adjust – but how to do that without taking away from the signature experience?

“We didn’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water,” said Kara McLaughlin, the site’s executive director, “but we want to engage a modern audience with the many stories that we can offer.”

This refreshed tour experience offers just that – a more engaging experience that highlights the generations of people who lived and worked at The Gables. Visitors will learn about the mansion through three themes – the fortune of the seas, the fame of Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the philanthropic work of its founder, Caroline Emmerton.

“We want our interpretive staff to ask questions of visitors and make them think about what life was like at different times in the house’s history,” said Julie Arrison-Bishop, Director of Community Engagement. “Our staff has always excelled at the guided experience, but I want our visitors to leave thinking about the impact that our site has had on Salem’s history and beyond.”

In the refreshed tour, visitors will encounter what life was like for four centuries. Visitors will also learn about the people who helped to make a comfortable lifestyle for the owners over the years. Caroline Emmerton’s vision and how it is executed today will also be woven into the story. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s fame and its impact will also be a highlight.

“We hope visitors notice the nuanced changes. We also hope that visitors leave our site and have conversations about what and who they learned about and use those conversations to take action in their communities,” says Arrison-Bishop.

The House of the Seven Gables’ hours through February 13 are 10:00 – 5:00 Friday – Tuesday. Please note that tours are hourly on Mondays and Tuesdays. For more information, visit www.7gables.org.

 

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This post was written by Julie Arrison-Bishop