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Expert Profile


Rainey Tisdale






Position Type:



United States of America

Years in the field:

26+ Years

Areas of Expertise

Curatorial/Collections, Exhibits development, Professional Development, Strategic Planning, Other

I am a museum consultant specializing in interpretive & strategic planning, content & collections curation, institutional capacity building, and igniting the creative process. My holistic approach to museum work has been called slow food, divining, poetry, and a secret weapon.


My work is human, multidisciplinary, attentive—and grounded in expertise with:


  • interpretive planning
  • strategic planning
  • collections planning
  • developing new approaches to collections stewardship
  • capacity building
  • leadership coaching
  • professional development workshops
  • content and conceptual development
  • experience design
  • idea generation
  • prototyping
  • city museums
  • local history and place-based interpretation
  • placemaking


I have held curatorial positions at the AFL-CIO’s museum, the US Senate’s Office of Senate Curator, and the Bostonian Society, and I taught in the Museum Studies Program at Tufts University. I was a Fulbright Fellow in Helsinki, Finland, and a Community Fellow in the Center for Public History at Brown University.


In 2013 and 2014 I led #BostonBetter, an effort by 25 Boston-area cultural institutions to provide programming commemorating the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombing. My work on #BostonBetter and the exhibition Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial won awards from the New England Association of Museums and the American Association for State and Local History.


Recent clients include Cambridge Historical Society (Cambridge, MA), the Musée McCord (Montreal, Canada), Mystic Seaport (Mystic, CT), the First Amendment Museum (Augusta, ME), History Nebraska (Lincoln, NE), Oysterponds Historical Society (Orient, NY), and the Chapman Museum (Glens Falls, NY).


I lead for change on a number of field-wide museum issues, including place-based interpretation, creative practice, collections stewardship, and the impact of museums on lifelong well-being.


My books Creativity in Museum Practice (Routledge, 2013, co-authored with Linda Norris) and Active Collections (Routledge, 2017, co-edited with Trevor Jones and Elee Wood) are essential texts for museum workers in the United States and abroad.


You can find my ideas and opinions in Exhibition, the Journal of Museum Education, and History News, and online at CityStories, Active Collections, and TEDxBoston.

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