A Guide for Historic Houses, Museums, Sites, and Organizations

Jane Mitchell Eliasof


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The name “Historical Society” or “Historic House” has a bad rap. Before potential visitors even know your museum, they may assume it’s not for them, even if you lead progressive, inclusive tours and host innovative programs.

If you’re part of the leadership team of a historic house museum or historical society, you may have considered rebranding -- either renaming your organization or developing a new look – to be more appealing to a younger, more diverse audience or to reflect changes to your mission, interpretation, site, etc.

Using examples from museums of all sizes across the country, this book helps you decide whether to move forward with a rebranding effort and give you a concrete outline to work from.

The book will help you:

  • Decide if you should rebrand (and that you’re not just putting lipstick on a pig)
  • Nitty-gritty details about how to go about it
  • How to react when someone says you’re making a huge mistake
  • How much it will cost and where you can cut corners
  • How to evaluate what you’ve done.

Rebranding: A Guide forHistoric Houses, Museums, Sites and Organizations is a step-by-step guide that helps Executive Directors, Board members, and staff at history organizations decide if it’s time to rebrand and, if so, how to go about it. The book will guide readers through the process of deciding if a rebranding is in order, testing ideas, developing a plan and budget, implementing the launch, and even handling naysayers. It’s an essential guide for anyone rebranding a history organization.


Jane Mitchell Eliasof:

In 2016, Jane Eliasof led the 52-year-old Montclair Historical Society through a rebranding as the Montclair History Center, with the tagline “Museums. Archives. Microfarm.” The new name went live on January 1, 2017, with a new website, brochures, social media, signage, and business systems. The new branding reflected the changes the organization had made in the previous six years – reinterpreting one of its sites to tell a more inclusive history, welcoming a community farm to its property, making its archives more accessible, and offering innovative programs targeted to a variety of audiences. As one new member said shortly after the rebranding, “I could never have seen myself joining a historical society, but I did join a history center.”

As there were few resources available on rebranding a small historic museum, Eliasof relied extensively on experience she had gained in over 25 years of marketing for the pharmaceutical industry.

As the Executive Director of the Montclair History Center, Eliasof applies her experience in strategic planning, marketing, and educational program development for healthcare organizations to history museums and historic preservation. She has written many articles related to history and is frequent presenter at state, regional, and national conferences on creating a more inclusive museum experience. She co-wrote “Chapter 18: Reflecting Race and Ethnicity in House Museums” for Rowman & Littlefield’s Reimagining Historic House Museums.

Eliasof holds a Bachelor of Arts from Drew University, Madison, NJ and a Certificate in Historic Preservation (a multifaceted Professional Certificate program on historic preservation covering four areas of concentration: theory and practice, architectural history/history, planning, conservation) also from Drew University.