Museology Master of Arts Program

November 20, 2019

Gone haunting: Exploring the Use of Mission-Based Ghost Tours in Historic House Museums

Thesis by Emily R. Alvey (2017)

Struggling historic house museums (HHMs) are in need of tailored, innovative programs to increase visitation rates and maintain financial solvency. The purpose of this study was to explore the use of mission-based ghost tours for revenue in various HHMs to determine guiding practices for this type of museum programming. In-depth interviews with museum professionals involved with creating and administering ghost tours, participant observations of the tours, and document analysis of promotional materials and internal reports provided insight into the logistical considerations, motivations, and ways of connecting ghost tours to mission from three HHMs. Study results suggested that ghost tour programs have the potential to be designed for museums of different sizes, and that they can be designed with multiple types of educational content. Additionally, this study suggested that ghost tour programs can be financially lucrative for HHMs, they can help sustain visitorship through reaching new audiences, and it is possible to ensure that ghost tours in HHMs are reflective of their educational mission. The results of this study offer house museum professionals some suggestions on designing and implementing their own ghost tours—one type of innovative programming.

Keywords: Class of 2017, museum, museology, museum studies, research, historic house museums, ghost tours, mission


Alvey, E., Luke, Jessica, Magelssen, Scott, & Miller, Marc. (2017). Gone Haunting: Exploring the Use of Mission-based Ghost Tours in Historic House Museums, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.