Theses Master's

Museums of Buildings: Historic Preservation and the American Open-Air Museum

Tonc, Andrea Antoinette

The American open-air museum was founded on the principles of identity, education, and preservation - objectives that have remained relevant to American society for over six decades, leading to the typology's longstanding history. While the use of the typology would be unheard of in today’s society, the movement has had a clear impact on the perception of America's built history and continues to do so today as these museums remain open for the public's enjoyment. While the bulk of the literature on the American open-air museum focuses on its Golden Age, in reality, the typology's development was far more encompassing, sweeping the entire nation in three distinct waves: the first in the 1930s and 40s with education tourism and the automobile, the second in the late 1950s and 60s in response to urban renewal and the threat of neglect, and the third in the late 1970s and 80s with a reinvestment in Americana in relation to the 1976 Bicentennial of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. This lack of research and discussion on the museum typology as a whole is the result of the negative connotation placed by preservation authorities on the typology's method of relocation. In order to claim the typology's long-deserved place within the historic preservation discourse, this thesis provides an overall context for the American open-air museum movement through the examination of three case studies as they relate to the three waves of museum creation: Old Sturbridge Village (1946), Nevada City, Montana (1959), and Old World Wisconsin (1976).

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Dolkart, Andrew S.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 20, 2016