An interesting way to get folks to your house museum: look for ghosts.
The John H. Stevens House, “the birthplace of Minneapolis,” a historic house museum near Minnehaha Falls, is holding three ghosthunting seminars this spring, starting March 2. “Stevens House is your “laboratory” as you learn how to detect the presence of paranormal activity using the tools of professional ghosthunters.” What a creative idea! Doing history is sometimes poetically described as talking to ghosts, and here’s the literal interpretation. Are members of the public more interested in possible ghosts than in actual documented dead people and their artifacts? The museum can capitalize on that by using their house, a meeting place for the earliest white settlers in the Village of St Anthony, as the venue. The museum is closed all winter, so this kind of program is a also good way to get people in the museum in the off-season. There are some possible problems, including the worry of promoting pseudohistory (which Tim Compeau wrote about interestingly last fall), but I’ll give the ghosthunters the benefit of the doubt.
I’m planning to go to at least the first ghosthunting seminar (my predictions: they’ll tell us to get a thermometer and an EMF detector and will talk vaguely about presences. All I know about ghosthunting I learned from Kiki Strike) and I’ll report back on how the metaphoric ghosts of the archives interact with the ‘real’ ghosts that make eerie noises. Maybe our small museums need a bit of the spectacular.