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Call for Papers: 2020 Annual Conference

Photo by Biff Henrich / IMG_INK

Historic preservation has increasingly come to rely on visitor centers and public education programs as integral aspects of its mission. With the introduction of new digital technologies, public education programs are undergoing a revolution. At the same time, visitor centers continue to function in traditional ways: as ticketing and staging areas, gift shops and bookstores, cafeterias and even restaurants. Their intention has always been to introduce visitors to the relevant historical context while also serving as significant sources of income for the site’s maintenance.

In light of the extraordinary success of Toshiko Mori’s visitor center at the Martin House in Buffalo, the 2020 conference, Interpreting Wright: Visitor Centers and Public Education Programs, will focus on the form and function of visitor centers and their associated educational programs. We are looking most specifically for papers that examine existing, projected or rejected visitor centers at Frank Lloyd Wright sites. These assessments need not be limited to physical structures but might examine a wide range of interpretation strategies, such as docent training and tour programs that help to shape the visitor’s experience of the building and site. More general studies of the history of visitor centers are also welcome.

Among the questions that might be asked are: How does the form of the visitor center relate to the Wright structure and the surrounding neighborhood? How does the interpretive program help in understanding Wright and his work? What types of innovative educational programming are being developed at Wright sites and others, and who is responsible for them? Are visitor centers in danger of becoming surrogates for the actual experience of the building as a result of ever more sophisticated methods of interpretation through virtual reality? At what point does the over-commercialization of a gift shop work against the aesthetic or historic experience of the visitor?

Proposals should present fresh material and/or interpretations and be analytical rather than merely descriptive. They should be submitted as an abstract of no more than one page, single-spaced, with the author’s name at the top. The text should concisely describe the focus and scope of the presentation. The proposal should be accompanied by a one-page biography/curriculum vitae that includes the author’s full name, affiliation (if applicable), mailing address, email address and telephone number. Please also note audio-visual needs.

Send all proposals to Ken Breisch, conference speakers co-chair, at breisch [at] usc [dot] edu.

Proposals must be received by February 12, 2020. Notification will be sent by April 1.

Download the Call for Papers (pdf)

Posted on November 27, 2019

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