Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

Paxton, Briana G. (2013). Living with Living History: The Impact of Old Salem Museums and Gardens on the Quality of Life in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


History museums serve an important role in most communities throughout the United States as repositories of heritage and educational institutions. However, many museums neglect to consider the impact of the services they provide, especially in a holistic manner. Contemporary museum management demands better self-assessment tool than those currently in vogue. As museums struggle to survive in the twenty-first century, museum impact analysis is imperative to demonstrate their value to the communities they serve. This thesis tests the suitability of quality of life metrics for holistic evaluation of museum impacts. To do so, a pilot study was conducted at Old Salem Museums and Gardens (OSMG), an open-air living history museum located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. OSMG demonstrates the adaptability of quality of life methods to evaluate the intricacies of the site and museum contributions to citizen well-being. Through this analysis of education, community, economic and physical character indicators, OSMG is informed to make more sustainable decisions and better demonstrate their value to the community of Winston-Salem. This thesis provides museum practitioners with an objective quality of life framework to measure museum impacts on the communities in which they are located.


quality of life, museum impact analysis, old salem museums and gardens, open-air living history museum, holistic evaluation



Date Posted: 25 February 2014