What if museums and libraries were re-imagined to become centers of community learning? What could they be at their best? In NYC, an exhibit opens up this weekend at The American Museum of Natural History that will attempt to make the abstract concept of microbes, parasites and disease a more concrete one by making the invisible, visible. What if the idea was taken a step further and there was a museum devoted to the diseases that plague human beings the most? Heart Disease? Cancer? Ebola? Flu? What if the exhibit was constructed around the way people learn, combining engaging visuals, talks and demonstrations from experts, scientists, doctors and patients? Would that do more to get people interested in medical or STEM careers?
What about museums devoted to studying and tracking ideas with positive influence like Nutrition? Or Religious Tolerance? What would a museum of Peace be like? Would it inspire more people to learn? To speak up? Ask questions?
In Richmond, VA, we have a Museum of the Confederacy, but no museum dedicated to The Constitution. Imagine what a multi-media exhibit and ever-evolving learning center of The Constitution would do.
On Shelter Island, NY, the local library across the street from the K-12 public school serves as the after-school care for younger students. Instead of going home to sit on the couch and play video games or watch TV, the students participate in the Lego Club or play chess. On weekends, the library hosts talks and forums with local writers, artists or historians for the adult community members. The library serves a crucial purpose: to encourage life-long learning at every age.
By poking around the internet, we can learn a lot, virtually--but imagine if we were able to build physical, multi-generational communities around learning to complement the most pressing topics in our education system.