Why Museums Fail

I've been thinking on the subject of why museums fail during my travels around the country the last few years. We see a primary reason in the always cash-strapped used bookstores all the time, and the same goes for museums - lazy inertia - people not adapting to changing times. Maybe the fact that curators or directors are sometimes not monetarily invested, the way a small business owner is, could be causing this disconnect. Whatever it is, if we want to preserve the past, someone has to step up.

Something as simple as a lack of taste, or sense of interor decoration, can sink a place. I have seen this time and time again. For Keats' sake, spend the money to get a designer and make the place look professional. Plant flowers outside. Use one kind of descriptive placard throughout the whole museum. Avoid posterboards on painters' easels; they look ridiculous. Make sure you have enough justification for a room or a display, but don't try to shove everything into one. And how about being clear where people can park? These are basic principles of a business, like a restaurant, and of course that is why they fail, too.

My advice, as a travel writer, a historian, and a customer, is to be professional in all things. We will enjoy the museum more, and maybe even recommend it to our friends. In the meantime, a lack of imagination and an inability to understand capitalism is destroying our nation's history faster than the bulldozers of condominium developers.