Public historians at sites of cultural heritage tourism struggle to engage with an ever-changing audience. The solution proposed in this work is the cultivation of the virtual community as a valuable audience and future donor base. Through an analysis of the web presence and social media activities of three high profile heritage locations in Virginia, Mount Vernon, Monticello, and Colonial Williamsburg, it is possible to devise best practices for interaction with the virtual tourist. These principles can be implemented at any site, large or small, and seek to create an immersive educational experience to be enjoyed by guests of many ages and interests. The key consideration must be to court the virtual visitor as a new and valuable audience essential to the continuation of perceived relevance at heritage locations across the country.
#VirtualTourist: Embracing Our Audience through Public History Web Experience
Anne Lindsay is an assistant professor of history at the University of Central Florida where she teaches courses in colonial American history and public history, including cultural heritage tourism and historic preservation. Her academic research considers the work of public historians to shape public memory at heritage sites interpreting the eighteenth century. Dr. Lindsay’s professional experience is in municipal historic preservation and in preservation consulting.
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Anne Lindsay; #VirtualTourist: Embracing Our Audience through Public History Web Experience. The Public Historian 1 February 2013; 35 (1): 67–86. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2013.35.1.67
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