Recently I visited the Ernest Hemingway museum in Oak Park, IL and although it was pretty okay as far as museums go, as a student of Organization Development (OD) immediately I saw areas of improvement. Not only from a customer standpoint that would make the museums more fun and exciting but also from an OD standpoint in where there were points which could maximize profitability.
- The Hemingway museum could be more interactive with its exhibits instead of a documentary on Hemingway playing on loop; maybe interactive touchscreens that you guess the works of Hemingway or other fun facts.
- The Hemingway museum is poorly laid out with a movie viewing set-up (for the documentary) in the back area with tons of hard wooden chairs instead of being upstairs in the auditorium
Not enough was done to the exterior of the museum, the sterile gray look is not inviting and uninspiring. If it was not for the main hanging banner in front I would have no idea this was the Hemingway museum. Not to mention, it is the exact opposite representation of Hemingway and his love for the outdoors and nature.
Not much was done with the entrance or inner area as you enter the museum. Perhaps better seating for the hostess and more of a presence than the sterile old looking desk that it embodied. Outer/exterior displays of Hemingway facts and stories are needed.
The Hemingway museum needs more handouts regarding Hemingway, his works, and accomplishments.
Since Hemingway fell victim to mental illness (depression) why not partner up with local hospitals for literature regarding Hemingway’s symptoms and treatments that are available today? This can be in the form of pamphlets or maybe lectures by volunteers (therapists) who deal with the illness on a daily basis.
- Increase the number of volunteers telling stories (facts) of various Hemingway periods and include some reenactments.
- Have a movie viewing where the museum is playing a movie marathon (all day screenings with the purchase of general admission), of movies that deal with or focus on Hemingway and his work, instead of just having a display of his work in a corner.
Many of these ideas can be outsourced to local schools for extra credit (if recruiting students), or professionals in the area, (in exchange for promoting services). These individuals can also bring in their own materials which will reduce the cost of the Hemingway museum or Oak Park having to finance the materials for some of these ideas. From an Organization Development standpoint, I think putting just these few suggestions into action will help the museum increase visibility and profitability in no time at all.