Saturday, December 26, 2009

Monticello Opening Doors to Corporate Events

Whether visiting on of several Civil War battlefields in the area or going downtown to visit the Smithsonian Museums on the National Mall, I was fortunate to grow up in an area that was surrounded by historical sites. I think this played a large role in why I eventually received my college degree in history, why I’m still constantly reading about historical events, and part of the reason I’m involved in politics today. It’s also why I’m interested in making sure that historic sites are preserved for future generations to enjoy.

As a result of the struggling economy many historic preservation organizations are facing significant budget cuts and are looking for ways to keep their programs alive. It appears as though the Thomas Jefferson Foundation has launched a new way of bringing in revenue for its efforts at Monticello.
A new policy at Monticello allows corporations and other organizations to rent out the grounds of Thomas Jefferson's home for private functions.

While Jefferson's house remains off-limits, available venues include the Jefferson Library, the theater and classrooms in the Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center and Smith Education Center, the Smith Woodland Pavilion and outdoor spots scattered across the estate's 2,400 acres.
My initial reaction to this developments is that I certainly hope the Thomas Jefferson Foundation doesn’t sell out to corporate interests and sacrifice historic authenticity, but it does appear as though there are at least some efforts in place to prevent that from happening. For instance, any corporate events taking place “may not interfere with normal operations” and they aren’t renting out Jefferson’s actual house. Plus they’re actually going to be extending hours during the summer which would allow more people to visit the site. So if these efforts will result in Monticello being able to maintain its authenticity and perhaps even reaching out to new visitors, then I’m glad to see the changes made. Only time will see, however, if the new program is actually successful.

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