At the wonderful blog Museum 2.0, Nina Simon describes the power of idiosyncrasy in the museum experience, and contrasting it with the the natural desire in difficult times to find "proven strategies" to satisfy ownership and boards of directors, says it's important for organizations to find "their own way forward."
I understand why retail establishments benefit from becoming bigger, more homogeneous, and more distributed. People like to buy from chains because they know what they are going to get. But consistency should not be the number one value when it comes to providing visitors with educational, aesthetic, social, and hopefully transformative experiences. I'd argue that one of the top reasons people DON'T visit museums is that they think they already know what they are going to get. Especially when it comes to small museums with limited collections, a distinctive personality is often the best thing the institution has to offer. Trying to cover it up or smooth it out in favor of "best practices" does a disservice to the museum and the audience. It creates another forgettable museum.
For festival goers who take in Sean Carroll's views on time, or see Diavolo dance or hear Daniel Tammet describe his life as a prodigious savant, or listen to "Push" author Sapphire or Avatar co-producer Jon Landau discuss their lives and art, or see any of the accomplished individuals that will be in Louisville during the IdeaFestival in late September, the only constant will be lives bravely led. Each has found their way forward.
And so can you. The IdeaFestival never discriminates on the basis of ability.
Image: Geoff Oliver Bugbee