Monday, 5 October 2009

Natural History - Inside Out

Museums, like everyone else, must struggle to remain relevant in the face of rapidly changing consumer preferences. The new Darwin Centre at the Natural History Museum in London does an examplary job by turning the museum inside out. The new exhibit focuses, not on the animals, minerals and vegetables that are the focus of all of its other exhibits, but on the work that the scientists do behind the scenes. The centre contains exhibits describing the scientists' work, but more significantly, windows into working scientific laboratories where you can watch the scientists at work and even interact with them.

I was there today with my parents and my three year old daughter. Imagine her delight when she spoke to the scientist behind the glass window and he answered her in an engaging and enthusiastic manner. Most of what he said would have been lost on her young mind (but not to the rest of the party), but I am sure that this real life and personal exhibit will have made a greater impression on her than all of the other interactive exhibits put together.

As businesses struggle to adapt to an environment where customers are increasingly disinclined to be treated as faceless members of categorised target markets, they could do worse than to study the way in which the Natural History Museum has turned itself inside out and exposed its inner workings to the public.

Oh, and thanks to all involved for a thoroughly informative and enjoyable day out.