Since 1993, HAI has provided a range of services to the National Park Service (NPS). We have supported NPS’s mission to preserve natural and cultural resources and entertain, educate, and inspire current and future generations. We have processed, cataloged, and preserved records and artifacts, identified interpretive goals for NPS sites, and developed exhibit content at more than 80 NPS sites. Interpretive plans and historic resource studies, compelling and insightful exhibit text, and comprehensive collection management plans are just a few of the outcomes of our collaboration.
Beginning with the Washington Monument exhibit development project in 2013, HAI has worked on nine exhibit development projects for the National Park Service. These projects follow the standard National Park Service project phases: Pre-design, Schematic Design, Design Development, and Production Design. Throughout these phases, HAI develops the exhibit concept and content, contributes background research, and provides interpretive and thematic guidance.
During the phases identified above, HAI provides the design team with a firm direction and supports the creation of a visual style that complements the content. At the outset, HAI attends post-award workshops and meetings to determine interpretive goals and ensure that all stakeholder concerns are incorporated into initial design documents. Following those meetings, HAI creates exhibit outlines and concepts with the design partner and identifies preliminary quotes, imagery, and artifacts for inclusion within the exhibits. As part of our partnership, HAI provides input for tactile and interactive exhibit components. HAI develops, revises, and finalizes the most important piece of any exhibit: the text. As the process nears completion, our team resolves any final content adjustments and acquires high-resolution imagery for print and display within the exhibits. The result of this process is an engaging and audience-friendly exhibit that brings NPS sites to life for visitors.
Long-Range Interpretive Planning
HAI has created Long-Range Interpretive Plans for NPS at Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument (2016) and Steamtown National Historic Site (2019). Long-Range Interpretive Planning sets the course for future interpretive work. HAI provides a Certified Interpretive Planner (CIP) to assist NPS sites and stakeholders to prioritize goals, themes, and paths forward.
The CIP works with NPS staff to create an interpretive plan that is driven and articulated by your teams. Interpretive plans help stakeholders determine direction, criteria, and use data to make informed, strategic, and realistic decisions about the future. In a series of three workshops, HAI helps NPS sites identify goals, themes, and objectives; interpretive recommendations, including visitor profile and experience, target audience, constraints for future recommendations, and programs that might be considered at the sites; and implementation strategies. As part of this process, the CIP leads a meeting to gather feedback from stakeholders. Bound by realism, the ultimate product of these workshops and meetings is an interpretive plan that contains actionable goals with a unified direction for moving forward. Although HAI facilitates this process, the interpretive plan articulates the site’s vision for the future.
Historic Resources Studies
In 2011, HAI completed a comprehensive Historic Resource Study for the George Washington Carver National Monument (GWCA). Historic Resource Studies like this one help in the development of current and future interpretive plans at the site, as well as cultural resource management.
A Historic Resource Study requires in-depth research about the historical context surrounding the site. In the case of GWCA, HAI researched life in southwest Missouri during the mid- to late-nineteenth century, educational opportunities for African Americans at that time, and race relations more broadly. It also completed baseline documentation of the park’s story and resources by providing a synthesis of primary and secondary source material about George Washington Carver’s life. These studies also seek to evaluate key cultural resources of interest within regional and national historic contexts. As part of this effort, we reviewed historic properties on the site for possible nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. We identified the sites and conferred with NPS to prepare nominations for three properties at the site.
Archives Preservation & Cataloging
From 2010 to 2016, HAI held an IDIQ (Indefinite Delivery / Indefinite Quantity) contract for Archival Services with the National Park Service. Through that contract, our experienced teams of archivists surveyed over 12,000 linear feet of park records and historic collections at more than 60 park sites. Our team performed full-level processing, rehousing, and description services for over 6,000 linear feet of park records, including creating catalog records and finding aids in the Interior Collections Management System (ICMS) for 45 parks. In addition to eliminating much of the NPS archives backlog, we also developed standard templates, tools, and workflows for archives work across the Park Service that are still in use today. In addition, our work prepared many collections for future digitization.
We continue to work with the National Park Service through a range of archival services including surveys, records appraisals, inventories, processing, and cataloging of resource management records and historic collections.. We create processing and conservation plans, rehouse, preserve, describe, catalog, and digitize records according to NPS standards and archival industry best practices. In addition, we provide records management services through surveys,creation of retention guidelines and file plans, and records hygiene. Throughout our engagement with the NPS, we collaborate closely with NPS regional archivists and Museum Services Program Managers to ensure our work meets the requirements of the NPS 19 records schedule and the NPS Museum Handbook.
Museum Collections Plans
HAI has worked with several NPS park sites to develop comprehensive Museum Collections Management Plans that meet NPS standards for collection management as outlined in the NPS Museum Handbook and the Preservation and Protection Checklist. HAI’s experienced collections managers assess the museum collections and overall collection management program. This assessment results in identifying areas of concern and provides recommendations for immediate, short-term, and long-term activities to improve the care and management of the collections. In particular, we evaluate collection management policies and procedures associated with accessions, loans, deaccessions, catalog records, collection management database systems, staffing, planning, preventative conservation, fire protection, and security and emergency preparedness. We work with archeological artifacts, historic objects and furnishings, archives, and natural history specimens and samples.
Solutions for an Array of NPS Challenges
Our extensive experience collaborating with NPS headquarters, regions, and individual parks has enabled HAI to identify and comprehend the array of collection and museum management challenges facing each location. Our permanent staff of historians, interpretive planners, archivists, and collections managers have worked with a wide range of artifacts, records, and research materials. As users of the historical record, as well as collectors and organizers, HAI brings a unique perspective and understanding to collections management preservation, interpretation, and display.