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Portrait of Colin G. Campbell

Dave Doody

Colin G. Campbell, President

Message from the President

Connections

In 1775, the word "connect" meant, among other things, a “just relation to things precedent and subsequent.” I know. I looked it up. Sixth edition of Dr. Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language. Published that year in London. Interestingly, though it sounds a bit archaic, the definition comes close to describing what Colonial Williamsburg is all about: connections. Relating what was to what followed, before to now, today to tomorrow.

In 1927, persuaded that the future may learn from the past, founders John D. Rockefeller Jr. and W. A. R. Goodwin undertook the restoration of the colonial capital. They took advantage of the cutting-edge tools, skills, and knowledge of their time and put them to innovative and imaginative uses creating a city-size museum of liberty and freedom. Today, we build on their example, reevaluating performance, developing techniques, and integrating systems to achieveour educational mission.

Case in point: more than a decade ago, it became clear that a One Foundation approach to operating this complex enterprise would be critical to Colonial Williamsburg’s future. We could not be an organization of parts taking independent paths. All Colonial Williamsburg’s components affect the other components, and the institution is strengthened when they mesh, and work together. The components have to connect. We are One Foundation.

Thanks to the extraordinary commitment of our employees, the results of this initiative were highly encouraging. Collaborative efforts increased across the foundation, and we all gained a deeper understanding of how important it is that we work together, taking advantage of the strengths and skills of our colleagues. More recently, given today’s competitive and economic pressures, we realized it is critical not only to sustain this advance, and on multiple levels at once, but to extend and accelerate it; that we need to integrate, programmatically, our marketing, hospitality, technology, operations, products, fund raising, and historical interpretation functions to create for guests a seamless Colonial Williamsburg experience.

We are emphasizing dynamism in the Historic Area by establishing and expanding Revolutionary City street-theater presentations and integrating those presentations with activities in the taverns and shops on Duke of Gloucester Street. We are reconstructing, with indispensable donor support, important sites such as the Coffeehouse and the Armoury complex—projects in which architects, facilities maintenance, research, Historic Trades, and other staff work as a single team. We are pursuing our commitment to scholarship through forums, lecture series, museum programs, and publications, all of which receive exposure and follow-up on the Internet as well. We are putting our technology personnel and assets to work on educational outreach, marketing, and digital game playing for young people.

That last set of initiatives involves connections of another kind. Fans can follow, friend, and share photos of Colonial Williamsburg on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. Families can begin a digital, fact-based RevQuest adventure in eighteenth-century espionage before they arrive, texting and tracking clues up and down the streets when they are here. Using codes and ciphers, they solve a mystery and forestall a Revolutionary War–era Williamsburg crisis. Not incidentally, they learn lessons of 1776, experiencing the town of that time, and then relax and reflect in Colonial Williamsburg’s taverns, restaurants, and hotels. This integrated approach sets Colonial Williamsburg apart as a historic site that offers a rich, varied, enjoyable experience in a challenging tourism market.

In today’s world, everything that we do at Colonial Williamsburg must be integrated effectively. We must connect the components, not only for a successful guest experience but for efficient use of resources. Moreover, it must be done in a manner that addresses our mission, that teaches guests, especially younger generations, about our nation’s history, about “the just relation of things precedent and subsequent.” About connecting. —Colin G. Campbell





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