Yesterday was the Fourth of July, so we thought that it was a perfect time for museums, nature centers, historic sites, and other interpretive venues to declare their independence – from bad exhibits, that is!
No interpretive site plans to have bad exhibits. But sometimes limited funding, poor planning, a rushed schedule, or a lack of expertise results in displays that are subpar. These issues put stress on your staff during planning, and you end up creating exhibits that fail to adequately portray the wonders at your site…in short, you are being taxed without representation!
It is time to declare your independence! With apologies to Thomas Jefferson for a shameless display of plagiarism (although he isn’t one to judge!), let us henceforth resolve to live by the following creed:
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for interpretive sites to dissolve the bands which have connected them to the mediocre and unsatisfactory practices of the past, and to assume a more worthy station to which their abilities and talents entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of all visitors requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to this new independence.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all interpretive sites are created with an equal mission to educate, engage, and inspire the public. The history of the present state of affairs is a history of often imperfect, uninspired, and unexceptional exhibits and displays.
Interpretive sites have struggled at creating truly hands-on, participatory exhibits.
They have often stumbled in their efforts to reach the younger generation.
They have sought to educate, forgetting that they also need to engage and inspire.
They have sought to inspire learning, forgetting that they also must inspire action.
We, therefore, the interpretive sites of our 21st century world, resolve that we ought to be Free and Independent of these past practices. We henceforth resolve to create experiences that engage visitors of all ages. We promise to light the spark of inspiration in all of our visitors, providing them with not only knowledge, but also encouragement, enthusiasm, and an awakening of their inborn creativity. We propose to give visitors a multi-sensory experience that is truly hands-on and minds-on.
Above all else, we resolve to create exhibits that fully and beautifully represent the incredible sites that we are. To this we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
What do you think? Are you ready to declare your independence?