Robert Shimp Oral History, 2020/08/04


Title (Dublin Core)

Robert Shimp Oral History, 2020/08/04

Description (Dublin Core)


Recording Date (Dublin Core)

Creator (Dublin Core)

Controlled Vocabulary (Dublin Core)

Curator's Tags (Omeka Classic)

Linked Data (Dublin Core)

Curatorial Notes (Dublin Core)

Date Submitted (Dublin Core)


Date Modified (Dublin Core)


Date Created (Dublin Core)


Interviewer (Bibliographic Ontology)

Alex Bice

Interviewee (Bibliographic Ontology)

Robert Shimp

Location (Omeka Classic)

United States of America

Interviewee Gender (Friend of a Friend)


Interviewee Age (Friend of a Friend)

25 to 34

Interviewee Race/Ethnicity (Friend of a Friend)

Non-Hispanic White or Euro-American

Format (Dublin Core)


Language (Dublin Core)


Access Rights (Dublin Core)


Duration (Omeka Classic)


Transcription (Omeka Classic)

[Alex Bice] Hello, can you hear me? All right. Fantastic. We are recording. My name is Alex spice. I am here with Robert Shimp. The date is August 4 2020. The time is 10:33am. I'm located in Boston, Massachusetts. Robert, where are you located? [Robert Shimp] Boston, Massachusetts. [Alex Bice] Great. I want to briefly review the informed consent and deed of gift document. This interview is for the COVID-19 oral history project which is associated with the Journal of the flag here. COVID-19 archive. The COVID-19 Oral History Project is a rapid response oral history focused on archiving the lived experiences of the COVID-19 epidemic. We've designed this project so that professional researchers in the broader public can create and upload their oral histories our open access and open source database. This study will help us collect narratives and understandings about COVID-19 as well as help us better understand the impacts of the pandemic over time. The recordings demographic information and the verbatim transcripts will be the positive deposited in the Journal of the COVID-19 archives, and the Indiana University Library System to the use of researchers and the general public. Do you have any questions about the project I can answer? I do not know. It seems like a great venture. Great. Taking part in this study is voluntary you may choose not to take part or you may leave the study at any time. Leaving the study will not result in any penalty or loss of benefits to which you are entitled. Your decision whether or not to participate in the study will not affect your current or future relations with India University UI or the IUPUI UI Arts and Humanities Institute. Participating in this project means that your interviews will be transcribed in digital video and or audio format. The recording is impossible transcriptions of my interviews, copies of any supplementary documents. For additional photos that you wish to share, the important consent and deed of gift document may be deposited in the Journal of the plague your COVID-19 archive and the Indiana University Library System. It will be available to both researchers and the general public. Your name and other means of identification will not be confidential. Do you have any questions? [Robert Shimp] I do not. [Alex Bice] Fantastic. Great. So we are good to get started. So just to start out, could you tell us a little bit about your background and your current position, the organization you work with and what your job entails? [Robert Shimp] Sure, yes, so my name is Robert Shimp. I am 31 years old. I currently live in Boston, Massachusetts, kind of a suburb both or not suburb but neighborhood of Brighton with my wife, Megan lebaron. I am originally from the Midwest. So I grew up on a farm in Central Illinois Sparling, Illinois, so not too far from Bloomington, Indiana University. I lived there through my entire youth and then went to Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for my undergraduate degrees in broadcast and electronic communications and history. Then following my graduation at Marquette University, I moved out to Boston in 2011. And recently completed I guess, a couple of years ago now, my PhD in American history at Boston University. So since I've been in Boston, I was currently working on my dissertation while also working in public history primarily at Adams National Historical Park. And upon completion of my degree, I was able to secure the position that I'm currently in, which is the research and adult program director for the Paul Revere Memorial Association. So I started that position in literally the start of January 2019. So I've been in that position for about a year and a half now. I conduct various research projects and needs for the Paul Revere Memorial Association, which is primarily initially consisted of the Paul Revere house itself, but now two other historic structures. We continue to produce original content through several mediums both digitally and in print on Paul Revere the house in North End of Boston Boston itself and the various chronological periods in which individuals occupied the house. I currently run our internship program through which we have excellent outstanding interns, especially one Alex Bice over the spring of 2020. And I conduct various programs that we offer throughout the year, including an annual Lecture Series in conjunction with the with the Law Institute. I also have supervisory duties on site at the houses we are public facing institution and have traditionally done very high visitation. Here we did close to 300,000 people coming through the site in the course of the year, though, obviously, those numbers have done, which I'm sure we'll discuss about greatly altered by the current pandemic. So I think that's, hopefully that's enough of an encapsulation of my background and and what I do. [Alex Bice] Yeah, great. Just what led you to choose museums and cultural heritage as sort of as your field? [Robert Shimp] Yeah, so I think I always thought of a general interest in history. Growing up in rural Illinois, my family didn't travel a whole lot to different areas. We do an annual vacation up to northern Wisconsin, which is probably my favorite place in the world, but we didn't travel to many other varied sites. So I had an opportunity to travel abroad once in high school. And very much enjoyed the experience. And then ultimately, as an undergrad, one of my cousins lived in Boston. So I traveled frequently or once a year to Boston, well in undergrad, and it was through those experiences, I was kind of blown away by the the preservation, the history, the ability to use historic sites and engage with the public in various ways. So I added history as a, as a secondary major and I have viewed public history as somewhat of a fusion of my two great interests, which has been communication and broadcast communication with historical research. So I find public history to be a great balance of those two interests. And definitely, for me, a more fulfilling way to convey information and and interact with the public than strictly staying in academia as a professor or writing content, in some cases, depending on how many students that may only connect to 20s or 30s of people ever, and there's I do think there's great significance in that as well for kind of the general human experience, documenting history but I find public history, a way in which you can work in the field and connect to so many more individuals than otherwise might, you might be able to. [Alex Bice] Fantastic Thank you so much. So let's sort of go back I guess to what was only I guess a few months ago, but still feels like forever ago. What was sort of, what do you remember about when the Coronavirus first started entering the news cycle? Yeah, I think it was. I mean, it was an interesting thing from a work standpoint because we are such a public facing institution and that we interact with so many people I think it was it was on our radar from January and February it quite, hadn't quite entered the United States yet. Now, he had done a trip in mid February, which now like hindsight was, which was actually pretty great timing that I was able to do a little bit of travel before everything shut down. But I was in Wisconsin, just weeks before everything really went sideways. And my wife was traveling in Cleveland and just just after that, I remember starting to get worried if she'd be able to make it back to Boston when she she was able to you know without problem but it was just about at the time, things started to shut down and in early March, so remember at least as an institution, and in the sense that it was that it was still pretty far away. And then as it became increasingly real that it you know, there were this great uncertainty about the spread and, and how rapidly I could spread in that week of March. That ended I think we closed on March 12. It seemed like it was just a rapidly developing week of anxiety, uncertainty. I remember riding the T and being very, the MBTA the public transit system here in Boston, and very worried about the proximity and the volume that was still on the trains. And I believe our last day that we were open as a site. Just looking at the calendar I think was March 12. And I still remember that we were able to March 12, that we still did about 250 people that day. So I mean, it's still a lot of it's still up for the time a lot of people going through. And then ultimately, we made the decision that afternoon that we'd be closing to the public at the time, I remember, we put a sign up that said through March 31, which obviously was was naively optimistic them and and wasn't the case at all, but but at the time, we, we, I think, recognize that it was a unique It was a grave, potentially grave situation, but still had no idea of what the what the, you know, the timeline of it would be salutely. [Alex Bice] How did the decision to sort of close how does how did that decision get made, I guess in the case of the Revere House? [Robert Shimp] Yeah. So I think our Executive Director Nina Zannieri is really an exceptional leader in general in the field. And I think it was one of those things that really started to rapidly develop over the course of the day. I mean, I think we were we were still in the position that we were going to kind of, you know, see where things were, were moving and and going. I recall too I think we have a sense that we probably need to close at some point but didn't know, you know, precisely when it would happen. And at least for me, personally, I'm a big sports fan. So I think it was on March 11. I remember watching some of the NBA games with with the Dallas Mavericks in particular, and they announced their mid game that the NBA season was was was cancelled, which I think was the first big like, Whoa, this is this is getting very, very serious and in terms of what's what's gonna be open and closed, youou know what contours of life in America are gonna look like soon. I think that was a big, big shocking moment for me at least. And then the next day as it progressed, it seemed like a lot of as we were in conversations with. Nina was in conversations with a lot of our peers and partners, especially along the Freedom Trail. And in Boston, it seemed like everyone was kind of rapidly coming to an accord that that that we would need to close for an unknown amount of time. So it was a it was a decision that that certainly I mean, we operate as an individual institution, but but from where we are in Boston, we have a lot of partner sites and a lot of peers and close proximity that have similar backgrounds and interests and functions. So I think it was one that we felt good to know that we had the you know, support of other similar institutions that were that were making what was you know an unprecedented call I remember Nina reflecting many times in that moment where it was still a very difficult decision to make that you know, we have never really closed as a as an institution before the Paul Revere Memorial Association has existed for 112 years now. So even as is the case I think with with everywhere, nothing like this is really happened before so it was still a very difficult decision to make that felt heavy in the moment but but I think ultimately was one that that was obviously the right decision in terms of concern for for public safety and staff safety and one that was made a little bit easier than the fact that we were in lockstep with almost all of our, all of our peer sites in Boston. [Alex Bice] Gotcha. What did. So as a full time staff member, how did your job and your responsibilities sort of shift with the closing of the site? Yeah, so we, we closed to the public that Thursday, so that would have been March 12. We went into office the next day, which would have been the 13th, the senior staff members, I don't think all of us were in but I was in the next day as we kind of went in. Obviously, did deep cleaning, we kind of plodded through the best we could, what next steps would be and we set a rudimentary schedule for for the coming weeks that we still needed to do building checks. We were still under the assumption that it would it would be safe to at least have a few of us in the office at a given time, but maybe not the full staff. So senior staff consists of seven individuals in total. So I remember had a normal insofar as you can say it, but a normal weekend that I was off on Saturday and Sunday, and then I was in on Monday with Nina, our executive director and Alex, one of our program assistants. So the three of us were in that month paid to do building checks and had a normal day of work, obviously closed to the public, but we're typically closed on Mondays during the during the slower season. And we did our building checks Did you know some desks work and things like that. And that was really the last time that we were in with with multiple people until until late June. So from that point, we went into what became an increasingly reduced schedule of two people in separate buildings, maybe three days a week. And then ultimately, in terms of the physical work on site, it was one staff person on. Ultimately, we got down to twice a week, I believe we were doing Mondays and Thursdays. So we still have three historic structures on site, buildings that date to 1680, 1711 and 1835 that have their own idiosyncrasies and concerns. So actually, one I remember one day that I went in, it's useful when we were still doing building checks, because it was early in the process that I went in and the real temperature in our office building which is a historic house, The Hichborn house is built in 1711, the real temperature on the first floor was at 90 degrees, which was not not ideal at all. So we had obviously doing an emergency maintenance call and from the each company was able to come in and fix it. But that was obviously a very problematic situation. So we still had the need for those sorts of building checks. But after that, we got down to about once a week and then once every other week where we were going in and ultimately, in terms of going into the office, it became kind of a fun experience because my wife would go in as well. She's working on a PhD and is an adjunct professor at Boston University. So we were able to go and obviously we were connected in terms of our level of potential level of you know, or actual level of quarantine and what we do is we we live together so she would go into the office And do her work while I would do building checks or get the mail and go to the bank or whatever we'd have to do institutionally. So that was my work on site. Otherwise, I feel like I stayed quite busy. And it allowed me to almost get back into the process of being a graduate student and doing a lot of the dissertation work that I would do from our apartment and from the kind of workspace that I have here. So it's nice to be able to get back in that sense to, to primary source research, continuing to work with with yourself and Laura, the intern for 2020. And then in particular pivoting in a lot of what we were doing institutionally to, to new digital content in the form of the Revere Express blog, which was still exists as a somewhat condensed version of the quarterly newsletter. That we do, where we're writing new content pieces on various points of history connected to the Revere House or Boston broadly construed. And somewhere between 1000 and 2000 words and then launching the Revere House Radio Podcast, which has actually been quite successful and something we'd considered for a while. But we're able to utilize the opportunity of the shutdown and having more time off duty, so to speak, not time in the house, working with the public, to be able to use that that distance time to produce that new content, which which I really enjoyed is kind of a fusion of both my interest and background in radio and my work in history. So I think we were able to successfully harness some Of the content that we've been kicking around and thinking of, were able to kind of rapidly get that up to speed and disseminate. And fortunately, we've been able to since we've reopened now keep that content going. And I think it's something as an institution that we're looking forward to, to continue in the future at a reduced rate, we had kind of a high level of production initially, but now as our, as our time is stretched a little bit differently. Now, we've scaled back to production, but are still continuing both of those through both of those sources. [Alex Bice] Interesting, awesome. In terms of how, in terms of just personally, how did you feel about sort of all of the rapid changes that sort of came as things shifted from, you know, not really, things are open, but people didn't know until a sudden like, I guess onslaught of news about the Coronavirus in the United States. [Robert Shimp] Yeah, I mean, I think it was it was definitely It was definitely challenging. I feel like I, especially with the kind of the sport scene and made, even in February watching a lot of the European countries and where things are going, I think I had a little bit of a sense of maybe where things were going, not any, you know, grand scale. So I think I somewhat processed a bit where the winds were blowing a little bit earlier. But then when things really started to shut down, I mean, it was definitely a shock and realizing that we would need to, to, to stay and be as isolated as possible, I think was was a challenge, but I think it's one that really we we I personally I think Megan and I adapted to You know, the best we could I think it helps. And, you know, I know you recently had a lot of your work in graduate school as well. But I think it was for us being able to transition in that, at least for me into that, that kind of moment of being a graduate student in which I would kind of sit down at the workspace here and work on, you know, from 9 to 5 or otherwise. So I think in terms of our actual like, day to day work and function, I think it's something that we were able to actually kind of balance out and get into a groove. You know, in relative terms, of course, but with some with some ease, so you know, interacting in public and going to the grocery store and make especially early, just that touching of any surfaces and washing the hands. All of those things were the causes of great stress. For sure, but I think we were able to kind of make make make the best of it as we could, we did do one trip in early May to visit and stay with Megan's mother in Euclid Ohio, just outside of Cleveland for about a week. So we went straight there. We we quarantined when we when we returned. So that was kind of a decision that had some stress attached to it initially and then ultimately was was was totally fine. But that is something that we felt like we we needed to do and I think ultimately, you know, ended up being the kind of the right thing to do as well. [Alex Bice] Okay, in terms of, so obviously, I guess Coronavirus hasn't been the only sort of big thing to happen in 2020. The killing of George Floyd and sort of protests related to that were equally sort of a big thing and did that have any impact on sort of your job or your institution and what you were thinking about as all of that happened and continues to happen? [Robert Shimp] Yeah, absolutely. I think we had a lot of discussions and in the moment around, both around George Floyd and then as as protests really began to increase in Boston, I think a lot of institutions did this. I think it felt like we needed to, and desired to participate in that in a capacity that made sense to us. So it was something that I really sat with for some time. And I took the initiative actually to write an express post which ultimately functioned as our statement on racial justice and the United States, but we wanted to make sure that What we were doing wasn't a blanket corporate statement or something without tangible value to it. So ultimately, I was able to write and then drafted or edited in conjunction with Nina and Emily Holmes and Adrian Turnbow-Riley, a piece that also connects to one of the few primary sources that we have for Paul Revere his contextual, anti slavery feelings and a kind of a turse exchange that he had with one of his former friends from Massachusetts who was a transplant to the south. So I think institutionally, we wanted to make sure we were being true to who we are and what our mission is, in terms of the statement that we were able to put out I think it was it was fairly well received. But I think the important thing is that the work that we've been doing generally and one of the things that I've really tried to push for in my time at the Revere House is to continue to make us and the stories that we tell broader than just Paul Revere and rather than really American history and try to be true to what the site specific history is, whether that be a point of first contact and Native American history in the 17th century, or unveiling the complicated stories of of slavery and racial supremacy from from the 17th into the 18th century and continuing within Boston, by itself and generally coming more inclusive stories. I think that's something that we've worked for. That's something that we have continued and will continue To do so, so I think in some sense, while we do it in a small way, I think our work has stayed true to the point to the moment didn't feel disingenuous, I think to to us to produce a statement like we did. [Alex Bice] Great. So to transition more towards, I guess, reopening. Could you talk a little bit about how you felt about going back to work personally, as well as, I guess, the decision making around reopening as a museum in this time? [Robert Shimp] Yeah, I mean, I think it was one that we put a lot of a good deal of thought and work into. We had weeks of kind of training and getting the equipment that we needed the PPE that we needed and having the site set up. The best we could for both staff safety And visitor safety so a lot a lot of thought and work went into it from from all the all the senior staff. I think we all had reservations and trepidations about it especially in the sense that once we did ultimately open it was a lot of trial and error as we did a soft opening a few weeks ago. So this would be now early or kind of mid, mid-July. But we worked within the, you know, the state limitations we can have essentially seven people at a time on a floor in the house or numbers are drastically limited. But I think in terms of the spacing, in terms of the math, I think those are all things that we are doing the best we can and actually feel generally safe in what we're doing. And I think importantly, definitionally everything that we're doing really does not result in close contact anywhere which should be within six feet and 15 minutes, we've set up the system in a way that no visitor should or does have close contact with any, any staff person at any point. So that's factoring in both staff safety and, and visitor safety. So I think no matter what, in this moment in time, everything does have inherent risk. I think everything's still uncertain. I think the the numbers in the nation are are generally not going the way they should or, or we hope they maybe would be by August, but in terms of what we're doing institutionally, I think we're doing it as safely as possible. And I think that i think that's felt in both myself and the I can only speak for myself, but I think at least in terms of the senior staff was what we were able to put together over May June and really July. [Alex Bice] Great, in terms of you talked a little bit earlier sort of about having more time to focus on primary sources and sort of other projects when the site wasn't in operation. Has that sort of changed again, now that the site is moving back towards, or is now accepting visitors again? [Robert Shimp] Yeah, I think the I think it's been a matter of time. And I think that's something that we recognized would have. And when we were doing these things, I think one of Nina's cautions was always make sure that we don't get into a situation in which we are not able to produce any content as soon as we reopen. So it's trying to strategically scale things back so we were able to, to continue putting out content through this reopen process. So while we were maybe doing three pieces a week, it kind of the peak of the shutdown. We're now we've now reduced to one piece a week. But it's still I think that's still meaningful at the moment. So definitely the time has shifted for me at work, in terms of us being online, as it were a lot more working with the public and having to consider a lot more of the ramifications and daily operations than we had to. So my new project time that I had definitely has been decreased. But I think we've built in the structure and in a way that those projects can still continue to so they weren't one off ventures or kind of specific ventures that would would die off as we reopen. So I think we've done a good job of trying to trying to find that, that work time balance.[Alex Bice] Looking towards something you mentioned there. I was wondering what of your as you've interacted more With visitors since returning to the site, what have those interactions been like overall? [Robert Shimp] Yeah, it's a good question. It was one I think that I had great grief, but definitely trepidation. And initially that we'd have pushed back on visitors not wanting to wear masks that we have pushed back on visitors not wanting to do the mandated contact tracing that we'd have visitors that were generally flippin about the whole scenario. And I have to say, that really has not been the case at all, which has been really gratifying, I would say 95 to 98% of visitors have totally compliant have been very nice and been on board with everything that we're doing, and I really thought that would be a much lower percentage. So that's been great to see. The only concern is where people are coming from. I'm asking we don't require anyone but just conversationally ask visitors, you know where they're coming from, and we use have had just so many visiting from parts of the country that are kind of going the wrong way numbers wise. We've had a lot of Florida we've had a lot from the south, etc. So that's definitely been a concern and thinking about where the numbers of Massachusetts have been hit hard early and then generally improved. Well, now we're seeing this influx in visitors from potentially problem areas. We'll see if the new directives from the governor, new travel restrictions that went into play on August 1, we're speaking on August 4, we'll see if those have any effect on where visitors are coming from. But that's that's definitely a bit of, and I would say that the point of greatest concern since we've since we've reopened [Alex Bice] Absolutely. Since reopening hasn't had Have you had more sort of local visitors than you would haveIn a normal summer or has bad? num, obviously the number of visitors is substantially lower. And we can talk about that as well. But do you think there's been a greater proportion of local visitors? Or do you think that has stayed about the same just as people are maybe looking for something else to do or trying to go to things that they feel safe if they're open? [Robert Shimp] Yeah, yeah, I would actually, I would say, in my experience, and again, these are all anecdotally, I would say it's a decreased and in fact, I would say it's maybe decreased significantly. I really have not interacted with many local visitors, especially immediately local. I mean, we've had some from different parts of Massachusetts and New England, but I would say the vast majority that I have interacted with have been from different parts of the country or international travels, obviously down to zero or about zero. I think that I really think and others might have different responses to this, but I think the Local attendance has has decreased, perhaps even significantly. Our numbers in general so far with a couple of weeks under our belt, we're looking at about probably 10 to 15% of typical attendance, this time, this time of year. [Alex Bice] What would happen in terms of this like number of people, what would a normal day during this time look like for the revere house in your own experience? [Robert Shimp] Yeah, so I've only had one year under my belt, but typically, definitely over 1000 generally, this time, which would be our busiest. We're usually looking at somewhere between 1500 to 2000 people and even on some of the busiest, very busiest days, we're doing over 2000 individuals, so maybe 2100 2200 was maybe the tops ever. Right now, especially just given how tours need to progress both in time and, and space wise. Last week, we were doing about 150 individuals a day. And then on our busiest day, the last day that I worked, which was last Saturday, we did 200 exactly for the, for the first time. So again, somewhere between that 10 to generally 10 to 15% of candidates are moving target mark. [Alex Bice] Gotcha, sort of, sort of related to this. Do you think there are specific or unique challenges that historic houses and other sort of historic sites versus traditional museum are facing during this time? [Robert Shimp] Absolutely. It's all about space. I think it's just all about the space and the numbers and how you can get people into spaces safely. And and and allow for distancing and allow for you know, so collation and all of those things, I think that's our greatest challenge. And to some extent, actually, all of our numbers I think, are somewhat reduced from what the demand would be because we have had lines out and people have not wanted to, to wait the time to come in because it just takes longer to get smaller numbers of individuals through the site in a safe manner. So everyone's distance that their distance from themselves and distance from the staff members. So I think that's absolutely been our biggest challenge. So far relative to my you know, a large museum say the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston or something to that extent, where you have a lot of built in space, and it's not something that we have, so we've had to reformulate kind of our tours that are more guided through stations rather than a typical self guided experience for visitors that have come in. I think it's worked well so far, but that's definitely been the biggest challenge. I'm trying to think creatively in new ways about the very confined spaces that we just have existed, then there's no way we can, you know, change them without altering historic structures. [Alex Bice] Absolutely. In terms of speaking a little bit more broadly, I'm wondering, what do you think historic houses are, in general or specific to the power of your house and related sites? What do you think they sort of offer us in this moment? [Robert Shimp] Second question. I think one of the things that we've talked about is they offer a certainly a glimpse into lived experiences and previous moments of crisis, whether that be different pandemics, whether that be different outbreaks, whether that be wars, whether that be just kind of personal struggles and tragedies. I think it's a way to connect to the very human experiences over different periods of time and put our moment into context. So I think it's a way to connect to these very human experiences over different periods of time and put our moment into context. So I think that's, I think that's important. And I think that's significant. I think they lost maybe for some moments of comfort and familiarity and visiting sites and periods of the past that some a, you know, connect to more than others. And I think for some, it allows for a diversionary experience in terms of general tourism and entertainment and the ability to to experience fundamentally different views and spaces from daily life. So I think they can work in a few different ways and I think, especially in the smellin have both the pandemic and increased I think recommend in the nation in the United States for racial justice and awareness and being cognizant of a lot of the past wrongs and problems in the country. I think historic sites can and should be a touchstone for for for those questions too.

[Alex Bice]
as part of sort of talking about what the power of your house and other historic sites offer, I'm wondering specifically if you have any thoughts about how this will effect impact the Freedom Trail. But just because I feel like a big part of the Paul Revere house is its relationship to the Freedom Trail and the other sort of sights that exist on on that trail.

[Robert Shimp]
Yeah, I mean, I think that's a point of great concern. Honestly, I think a lot of places not just on the Freedom Trail, but historic sites in general, are going to be incredibly strapped to just simply survive and exist. I think we're seeing that and a lot of our partner institutions that are already making very tough decisions, financial decisions about how, what their staffing is going to look like, what their purpose is, how how can they continue on I think, fortunately, a big credit to our executive director Nino's in here I think we're in a especially relative, very good financial position, compared to a lot of our RP appears. That doesn't mean that we can't, you know, consistent And perpetuity as things go on. But I think we're able to, we have kept all of our staff on through this entire process, which I think is quite unique in terms of, you know, relative to our peers. So I think there is a great concern about the continuation of a lot of our freedom material partner sites, certainly concern for ourselves as well. But in terms of what these partnerships are going to look like and terms of what sort of you know, programming will continue to be available along the Freedom Trail, so I think things will probably look and this is not, you know, prognosticate at all but I think things will look different in one way or another and in the coming year and coming years.

[Alex Bice
Right. That's very interesting to hear. I'm sorry, taking a moment to justcheck through Everything I have so far. I guess, sort of now looking more towards the future, where do you see things going from here just in terms of your own specific institution how you see, assuming things, which admittedly, there are no longer any safe assumptions. I feel like in terms of the Coronavirus, if things feel on, if things remain on this relatively same path, what do you see sort of going forward for your institution?

[Robert Shimp]
Yeah, I mean, that's a it's a it's a tough question. I think we'll continue to I think one of the opportunities has been able to produce this content, this new content We've done that can be evergreen and some sense of will have content and continue to produce content that can be used and returned to over in coming years, which I think is important, given the uncertainty of the period on that we'd have to close down again, if our numbers will continue to be reduced, you know, those sorts of things. So I think we will anticipate very low visitation for a while coming up, especially before there is a vaccine and then probably even after there's a vaccine, it's people slowly returned to the numbers. So I mean, I think Ideally, we'd like to be able to get back to the numbers that we were doing, but I think that's probably unrealistic for for for some time. So it's finding a balance, just in terms of survival, about how to, you know, increase attendance and the best way You can safely while also trying to find different sources of revenue and monetize some of the products that that send the good content that we are that we are putting out. So I think it's as is going to be the case with a lot of places it's a hybrid ideas of interacting with the public and spaces because I'm also trying to harness and utilize this moment to interact with Distance Learning and Digital Content and, and maybe non traditional spaces of visitation and places that we wouldn't be able to to reach them in normal times, and doing all of that within the capacity of are generally pretty, pretty small, pretty small staff size.

[Alex Bice]
Understood. Well, those are all the questions I have. Is there anything else you wish I would have asked? In relation to this oral history?

[Robert Shimp]
Though, I think I think those cover a lot of it again, there's just stating the obvious but a lot of uncertainty as to where things go as we're talking right now, in this this moment, early August, I think. I think there's still a great deal of uncertainty as to whether Massachusetts will scale back the the opening and the stages that we're in, will continue on, you know, where the number is for the rest of the country. Go and things like that. So, all of it is so many cliches to this point, but we're really just trying to take it, you know, very slow and almost on a weekly basis to, to see where we're at. And we'll, you know, we'll we'll see where things go as the as the months and months progress.

[Alex Bice]
Absolutely. Are there any closing thoughts you have about the importance of museums sort of in this moment, what they can offer to people?

[Robert Shimp]
I think I covered I think I covered a lot of my my general thoughts. It's something that I didn't need to ruminate on, on more going forward. But I think there is this moment of trying to generally trying to, to, to consider where museums fit in and the stories museums are telling and I think we're going to have I think there will be a public recognition in many ways as so many businesses see, you know, what, their their viability is moving forward. So I think these are these are big questions that you know, I feel strongly about for a lot of places but I think will continue to be answered need to be answered in new ways by the general public in the in the coming month.

[Alex Bice]
Fantastic. Well, thank you again for participating in this course.

[Robert Shimp]
Yeah, my pleasure. I like this is great.

[Alex Bice]
All right. Well, Thanks. I'm just gonna say thank you again this because I really appreciate it and I've really enjoyed sort of hearing your thoughts on all this both your personal feelings as well sort of how the institution has responded.

[Robert Shimp
For sure. Absolutely. My pleasure.

Item sets

New Tags

I recognize that my tagging suggestions may be rejected by site curators. I agree with terms of use and I accept to free my contribution under the licence CC BY-SA