Reimagining the Cemetery as Museum

August 15, 2015

In this one-day program, Mount Auburn and Green-Wood Cemeteries take a fresh look at how diverse collections of monuments and historic landscapes can be leveraged to educate, inspire, and sustain an audience in order to support their preservation and future relevance. Cemeteries function as outdoor history museums featuring diverse collections of sculpture and horticulture, but too often they are not managed or promoted in ways that ensure their long-term preservation. Mount Auburn and Green-Wood are the first cemeteries in the United States to receive Museums for America Collections Stewardship grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to help document and research their significant monument collections, giving both organizations a new opportunity to develop systems of maintaining and sharing information about their collections at a museum-level standard.

This program is designed for professionals and students working with or for historic cemeteries and landscapes.

Click here or scroll to the bottom of this page to register.


8:30 – 9:00 a.m.
Coffee and Registration (Story Chapel)
Coffee and pastries will be served.

9:00 – 9:15 a.m.
Welcome and Opening Remarks (Story Chapel)
Dave Barnett, President & CEO, Mount Auburn Cemetery

9:15 – 10:00 a.m.
A Holistic Approach to Stewarding Mount Auburn’s Significant Monuments (Story Chapel)
Meg L. Winslow, Curator of Historical Collections, Mount Auburn Cemetery
Gus Fraser, Vice President of Preservation & Facilities, Mount Auburn Cemetery

Mount Auburn was the first cemetery to be awarded a Museums for America collections stewardship grant (MA-30-13-0533-13) from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. This grant supports a two-year initiative to research, photograph, digitize related documents, and assess the Cemetery’s thirty most significant monuments. Ms. Winslow and Mr. Fraser will share project highlights.

10:00 – 10:45 a.m.
Green-Wood Cemetery, Burial Ground and Living Museum (Story Chapel)
Richard J. Moylan, President, Green-Wood Cemetery

In 2014, historic Green-Wood Cemetery received a Museums for America grant to catalog their diverse collections. This project will help the Cemetery to grow as a cultural institution during a critical period as they begin to transition from an active burial ground to a “living museum.”

10:45 – 11:00 a.m.

11:00 – 11:45 a.m.
Managing an Evolving Cultural Landscape (Story Chapel)
Dennis Collins, Horticulture Curator, Mount Auburn Cemetery

Over 180 years after its founding, Mount Auburn has become a leader in historic landscape preservation and ecologically sustainable landscaping. Learn about new initiatives in our horticulture program such as replacing turf with groundcover for the protection of monuments, and a strategic emphasis on biodiversity and wildlife enhancement.

11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Lunch (Bigelow Chapel)
All attendees will receive a bagged lunch.

12:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Walking Tour of Mount Auburn’s Collections in the Landscape (Meet at Bigelow Chapel Lawn. Inclement weather location: Bigelow Chapel.)
Meg L. Winslow, Curator of Historical Collections, Mount Auburn Cemetery
Gus Fraser, Vice President of Preservation & Facilities, Mount Auburn Cemetery
David Gallagher, Chief of Conservation, Mount Auburn Cemetery

Join Mount Auburn staff for a walking tour of the Cemetery featuring a conservation case study of the Binney Monument, one of the thirty significant monuments included in the IMLS project. Project staff will share their firsthand experience implementing many of the concepts discussed in the day’s sessions, including researching the monument’s history, creating a conditions assessment and treatment plan, securing funding, completing conservation work, and landscaping to support future preservation.

2:30 – 3:15 p.m.
Reinterpreting Historic Sites: Connecting to Collections (Story Chapel)
Bree Harvey, Vice President of Visitor & Cemetery Services, Mount Auburn Cemetery

As with any historic landscape, there are special challenges to interpreting a historic cemetery. With some creative thinking, these places also allow for unique and innovative ways to connect with the public. During this session, Ms. Harvey will highlight successful models for interpreting historic cemeteries and discuss the different philosophies that drive the range of programming at various sites.

3:15 – 3:30 p.m.

3:30 – 4:15 p.m.
Fundraising for Preservation of Historic Resources (Story Chapel)
Jane Carroll, Vice President of Development, Mount Auburn Cemetery
Jenny Gilbert, Senior Gifts Officer, Mount Auburn Cemetery

Learn how to research and identify potential funders for a preservation project, demonstrate the public impact, estimate and present a project budget, and build a relationship with a funder.

4:15 – 4:45 p.m.
The Power of Place: Inspiring Contemporary Artists (Story Chapel)
Roberto Mighty, Independent Film Maker, Artist-in-Residence, Mount Auburn Cemetery

In June 2014, filmmaker Roberto Mighty began an 18-month project to document the conservation of the Binney monument. Like many artists, Roberto has been moved by Mount Auburn’s landscape and “residents.” His explorations of the landscape have inspired him to create a series of short films about the Cemetery entitled, combining film, historic voices, layered design, and music. This session will examine how contemporary artists can reinterpret historic sites and help them to engage new audiences.

4:45 – 5:00 p.m.
Concluding Remarks and Q&A (Story Chapel)
Gus Fraser, Vice President of Preservation & Facilities, Mount Auburn Cemetery

5:00 p.m.
Reception in Story Chapel
We invite you to stay for wine and snacks with your fellow attendees and Mount Auburn staff.


This project is made possible by a grant from the
U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services
Grant number: MA-30-13-0533-13




Registration closes on October 23rd.

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