Small Museum of the Month: Virginia Living Museum
Welcome to our brand new page, which will highlight a new small museum each month! Each museum that is highlighted has been selected due to its creation of an innovative program or exhibit, its exemplification of best museum practices in a given area, or its use of a successful strategy to improve the visitor experience or get people through the door. The goal of this page is to share interesting or insightful ideas and strategies from other museums that could be utilized and adapted by your museum, as well as to simply offer food for thought. Make sure to check the page each month for updates!
This month’s museum: The Virginia Living Museum in Newport News, Virginia
Next summer, the Virginia Living Museum will host the “Nature Connects” exhibit which features larger-than-life sculptures of wildlife made solely from LEGO bricks. According to the creator of the exhibit, Sean Kenney, the purpose of the exhibit is to demonstrate the interconnectedness of nature through interconnected LEGO bricks. The exhibit boasts some incredible feats of LEGO engineering, including a 6-foot-tall hummingbird flying directly over a trumpet flower, as well as a dragonfly that spans over 7 feet. The exhibit will be hosted at the Living Museum from July 22 until November 26, 2017.
Incorporation of this type of exhibit into the Living Museum offers other museums a couple key ideas and lessons. Firstly, it shows how powerful positive relationships with regional artists, entrepreneurs, and community as a whole can be. Develop partnerships and positive relationships with creative minds. The ability of the community itself to create exciting, compelling exhibits can benefit both the museum and the community at the same time. Members of a community likely have an idea about what other community members want to see and experience in their local museum. Do not be afraid to ask for their opinions and to enlist the aid of local creative minds to develop attractive programming and exhibits.
Secondly, it shows the power of nostalgia and novel objects to attract visitors. An exhibit made entirely of tens of thousands of LEGO bricks is not just interesting or novel for children, it is also an interesting and engaging for the adult audience as well due to the use of a toy that transcends the age gap and has stood the test of time. What do you have in your collection that connects people of all ages due to its nostalgic qualities or agelessness? If your museum is still acquiring new objects for its collection, what could be added in the future that both connects individuals from all age groups and fits your collection and mission? The Victoria and Albert Museum is currently collecting objects from present-day that may induce nostalgia or relate to people of all ages in the future. This idea is one that may be worth thinking about.