I got an opportunity that many history students who want a career in the museum sector would love. I worked for an over 300-year-old estate, that chose to present itself in a way I had never seen before. Now this place taught me so much about what I want in life and what I love about the people who choose a career or volunteer time in museums. This house taught me passion when approaching work and a love of preservation that exceeded many historical sites I had ever been too.
Two other Arcadia interns and I got to witness this very unique place, and by the end felt included in their family. Repeatedly, we heard that Hopetoun House just grows on you, and by the end, we realized that was very true. The house uses several volunteer guides to either talk about the rooms of the house or lead guided tours. The passion I saw these guides give was incredible, they made sure visitors knew that they were open to talk too and then they would share so many interesting stories related to the house. When the house is open to the public they get many fans of the TV show “Outlander” who want to see some of the film locations at the house, but they usually leave learning the history of the Hope family as well. Each guide there can grab a visitor's attention and get them interested in a particular room of the house or a member of the family. A lot of the guides have volunteered for the house for an over 20-year period. This shows just the overall passion these guides have in welcoming guests to Lord Hopetoun’s estate and always sharing their love for their work.
Another major element I noticed was the matter of preservation and display the house chose. Most of the house is open for visitors to walk through rooms and this leads them to feel as if they are guests of the Hope family. They are not divided by ropes, but free to view the area not as a museum, but a family home. Another important point is that all furniture and objects of the house are authentically belonging to the Hope family. Many historic homes have replicas or pieces from the time of the family, but rarely does one see a home made up of original objects bought or collected by the family in an over 300-year period. In the Hopetoun library, there are old school books that the Hope family men had written in while they were studying, all which adds a personal touch to the home. When I was doing my research for the house I sat in the library, at a desk facing all of these books and I felt like I was in a home, not a museum.
These factors showed how special and unique Hopetoun House was during our one month stay. When we had presented our final research projects to the guides of the house, and we were driving away for the last time, there was a tug at my heartstrings. I grew to love the place, the people, and its history so much that it will be deeply missed. What I can end with is I know I’ll be back soon.