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We Serve the Public

ABOVE Carl R. Nold in the Otis House Museum.

I am just old enough to remember a time when almost all of our interaction was with people rather than machines. Operators handled telephone inquiries. Attendants pumped gasoline and cleaned windshields. The entries in my childhood savings account were handwritten in a passbook by the teller who received my coins. After-school play was with siblings or friends, rather than alone at a computer. In the ATM and self-service machine world of today, there is a great risk of losing the essential social interactions that help us to strongly value and respect each other.

I'm not suggesting that "things were better then." As a historian I am constantly on guard against such happy talk. Technology has improved our health, expanded our access to information, and enhanced productivity and the economy. What I do suggest is that it is more important than ever to consciously put people at the fore in what we do.

SPNEA is working to become a more public institution. We've adopted a new heading for our mission statement that puts people first: "We serve the public by preserving and presenting New England heritage." We recognize that there are four primary areas in which SPNEA contributes to New England and the people who live here: education, models for preservation, quality of life, and economic vitality. We exist to preserve the places and the stories that are important to the people of this region.

Beginning this summer, we are testing projects designed to make our extraordinary buildings, landscapes, artifacts, images, and documents-and the outstanding scholarship that has always been a hallmark of SPNEA's work-even more accessible. We are sharpening our marketing messages to more readily identify our sites for the public. We are creating new programs at the Little Farm in Newbury, Massachusetts, to make it family friendly and a place where kids can enjoy learning about New England history. These efforts and more are about ensuring that people are put first as we work to preserve New England places and stories for the future.

-Carl R. Nold
President and CEO

Focusing on the Visitor

Img_01Continually improving your experience at an SPNEA museum is the most important part of my job. From the moment you arrive to the time you leave, our team of SPNEA staff and volunteers strives to make your visit rewarding and memorable. Therefore, we must constantly ask ourselves-and ask you-how we are doing. So, don't be surprised if, while at an SPNEA museum this season, you see staff with clipboards talking to visitors about the quality of a program, or a tour guide asks you how easily you found your way to the site. We will be taking steps to evaluate the visitor experience, from tours, programs, and shops, to restrooms and parking. We will work to improve the appearance of our buildings and landscapes and the effectiveness of our signs. Our goal is to make your experience with us one that you will deem worthy of your valuable leisure time.


Let us know what you think. When you visit an SPNEA museum this summer, tell the staff what you liked-and where we need to improve. Feel free to contact me directly at or (617) 227-3957, ext. 269. It is only with your input that we can learn where we are succeeding and where change is needed. A visit to an SPNEA museum is your experience, and we want to make sure that it will keep you coming back for more.

-Peter Gittleman
Team Leader, Visitor Experience
We Serve the Public