Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Creative Arts


Art History

Committee Chair

Kristina Olson.

Committee Co-Chair

Rhonda Reymond

Committee Member

Melissa Bingmann


This study discusses how the emergence of architecturally significant modern house museums has necessitated implementation of new philosophies guiding interpretation and preservation distinct from those governing historic house museums. Traditionally, many historic house museums' significance is the history that took place there, with interpretive themes presented to visitors being based on the historical background, and with preservation work directed at saving the historic material. With modern house museums, the significance is the architectural design, with interpretive themes and preservation or restoration efforts revolving around the building's design and the architect's intentions. With these modern architectural sites, the interpretation is about the architecture, and social history is used to support the architectural interpretation. Instead of preserving the historic material and allowing patina to show as at historic house museums, modern house museums have begun to concentrate on preserving the architectural design, staying true to the modern aesthetic rather than showing patina. The Kaufmann House (known as Fallingwater) (1934-39 in Mill Run, Pennsylvania), the Gropius House (1939 in Lincoln, Massachusetts), and the Farnsworth House (1945-1951 in Plano, Illinois) are three examples of modern house museums where the staff has adopted these new philosophies to be used as case studies in this thesis.;Modern house museums are an emerging type of house museum with more and more architecturally significant, Twentieth-Century homes opening to the public but, there are no set standards or professional practice literature for the staff of these sites to follow. This thesis addresses the differences between modern house museums and traditional historic house museums demonstrating the need for these new operational standards and offering examples from practices currently in use that provide the basis for developing such standards.