Max A. van Balgooy

Max A. van BalgooyMax A. van Balgooy works to improve and enhance communities by preserving and interpreting historical places and developing sustainable strategies to share them with residents and visitors. Van Balgooy writes and speaks regularly on architectural history, historical preservation, and public education; leads workshops on historic site management and interpretive planning; and works with a diverse range of historic house museums and sites across the country. Among his accomplishments are:

  • Developer, coordinator, and advisor on the strategic or interpretive planning for such nationally significant sites as the Cliveden (Pennsylvania), Chesterwood (Massachusetts), Decatur House (Washington, DC), Drayton Hall (South Carolina), Farnsworth House (Illinois), Fair Lane (Michigan), Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum (California), James Madison’s Montpelier (Virginia), Mill at Anselma (Pennsylvania), Mount Pleasant (Pennsylvania), President Lincoln’s Cottage (Washington, DC), Reeder Ranch (California), University of Wisconsin (Eau Claire), Villa Finale (Texas), and Wharton Esherick Home and Studio (Pennsylvania), using methodologies that balance ambitions and resources to ensure sustainability.
  • Faculty, speaker, panelist, and moderator for a broad range of historic site-related topics including strategic planning, collections management, interpretive planning, heritage tourism, marketing, hands-on activities, living history, school programs, tour development, volunteer management, and historic preservation for regional and national organizations such as the American Association for State and Local History, American Association of Museums, Association for Living Historical Farms and Agricultural Museums, California Council for the Promotion of History, McFaddin-Ward Museum Conference on Historic House Museums, National Preservation Conference, New York State Bureau of Museums, Museum Educators of Southern California, Partners for Sacred Places, Society of California Archivists, University of Southern California, Upstate History Alliance, and the Western Museums Association.
  • Guest editor for special issues of Forum Journal focused on heritage education and historic sites, and contributor to such major reference works as A Field Guide to America’s Historic Neighborhoods and Museum Houses by Virginia and Lee McAlester (Knopf) and The Elements of Style: A Practical Encyclopedia of Interior Architectural Details by Stephen Calloway and Elizabeth Cromley (Simon and Schuster).
  • Essays, articles, and reviews on a wide variety of museum-related topics including historical interpretation, historic preservation, and collections management, as well as historical subjects such as southern California architecture, adobe, stained glass, ceramic tile, magicians, and jazz for regional and specialized publications such as Curator, EdLine, Forum Journal, History NewsMuseum, Public HistorianTempo Journal, and Flash Point.
  • Actively participated, facilitated, or chaired a wide range of committees, commissions, and boards working with elected and appointed officials, professional staff, trustees, colleagues, and the public, including the American Association for State and Local History, City of Rockville (Maryland), City of Upland (California), Main Street Upland (California), Montgomery County (Maryland), and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Max van Balgooy received his M.A. in History from the University of Delaware and his B.A. in History from Pomona College. He was awarded fellowships from the University of Delaware and Historic Deerfield, and attended the Attingham Summer School. He is currently the president of Engaging Places LLC, a design and strategy firm that connects people with historic places, and formerly the Director of Interpretation and Education for the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, DC. He can be reached at