Engaging Places, LLC, is a design and strategy firm that connects people and historic places. We help museums, historic sites, non-profit organizations, cultural institutions, and governmental agencies assess current performance and conditions; conduct visitor and audience research; design custom solutions, strategies, and plans; provide benchmarking and develop measurable outcomes; and train staf
f, volunteers, and boards to better engage with their audiences and become more sustainable. We’ve worked with places as small as a one-room schoolhouse and as big as a city, as venerable as a National Historic Landmark and as new as a site still under development, as physical as a Main Street and as intangible as a blog. Our work not only meets the professional standards of the American Alliance of Museums, American Historical Association, National Association for Interpretation, and the Secretary of the Interior, but also responds to national and international trends to anticipate future best practices. Areas of expertise include strategic and long-range planning, facilitation and consensus building, interpretive planning and implementation, collections policies and management, program assessment and evaluation, and staff training and development. After a decade working as the director of interpretation and education at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Max A. van Balgooy established Engaging Places to assist and advice house museums and historic sites across the country. van Balgooy is a national leader in historical interpretation and community engagement, with extensive experience in developing solutions in collaboration with diverse audiences, including volunteers, staff, trustees, residents, scholars, design professionals, business leaders, and elected officials. He has more than 35 years of experience working in museums, historic preservation, heritage tourism, and historic sites, including senior positions at the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum and was one of the organizers of the Kykuit Forums on Historic Sites Stewardship in 2002 and 2007. A recognized researcher, author, speaker, and blogger on the trends, challenges, and opportunities facing museums, historic sites, and cultural organizations, he is a frequently requested facilitator, trainer, and consultant on business strategy, historical interpretation, public programming, marketing, and online media, especially in the areas of best and future practices. Along with an active consulting practice, he is the director of Developing History Leaders , serves on the steering committee of the History Relevance Campaign, teaches in the museum studies program at George Washington University, volunteers as a peer reviewer in the Museum Assessment Program of the American Alliance of Museums, and recently published "Interpreting African American History and Culture at Historic Sites and House Museums" with Rowman and Littlefield. in history from the University of Delaware as a Hagley Fellow, his B. in history from Pomona College, and participated in the Historic Deerfield Summer Program in Early American History and the Attingham Summer School for the Study of Historic Houses and Collections.