Lives of Museum Junkies: The Story of America’s Hands-On Education Movement
Picture a museum in your mind. Did you imagine exhibits, roped-off bits and bobs from history meant to inspire, amaze, and educate, but always out of reach? Even today, this idea of the museum as the look-but-don’t-touch institution persists. But there is another way. For decades, hands-on education has sought to break down the barriers between exhibits and visitors, allowing interested minds of all ages the opportunity to interact with exhibits, to learn firsthand by experiencing scientific principles in action. And Lives of Museum Junkies chronicles the long journey behind bringing science and museums to your fingertips.
Marilynne Eichinger uses her story — the story of how the Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing, Michigan, was brought to life — as the framework upon which to mount an encouraging, inspiring tale of dedicated people forging their own path and establishing something new and exciting for their community. This is the story of hard-working, generous, driven people starting from scratch and building something unique, valuable, and hands-on. From marketing and sharing one’s brand to expanding an idea on a national and international scale, the stories of Eichinger’s work at Impression 5 and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry encompass all aspects of community building, starting a business, and shifting people’s perceptions of just what can be accomplished when creativity meets commitment. Readers also get to meet other key voices and entrepreneurs Eichinger has worked with, people who have inspired her and who have helped blaze new trails for hands-on learning. These profiles bolster Eichinger’s mission to lend credibility to the hands-on museum movement and show the many different paths one can take toward achieving success in ambitious charitable works.
Although the many benefits of this truly useful style of education are touted here, Eichinger refuses to paint a rosy picture of the process. The author never shies away from sharing the missteps, obstacles, and hard lessons encountered along the way, including a truly shocking revelation that typifies the gender politics at the time and the long legacy of gender bias in this country that still impacts us today. By pulling science and learning out from behind the glass and velvet ropes of traditional museums, Eichinger helped spark a revolution in understanding how we learn and how to engage (and re-engage) young minds in fundamental concepts of science. Lives of Museum Junkies is part tribute, part handbook, and part inspirational guide, reminding us once again that a small, dedicated group of people can change the world… because they’re the only ones who ever have.