In Praise of Museums

The summer travel season is rapidly approaching, and here’s hoping your adventures include stops at a few museums. My wife and children tended to limit my museum time during our road trips and I have tried with limited success to make up for it on business trips.

I don’t know how many times I visited Seattle before finally taking an afternoon to visit the Museum of Flight. If you love airplanes you might need a full day. Cars are my major interest, but I spent more time touring the Museum of Flight than at the nearby Everett LeMay collection.

It is hard to top the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s display of race winners though. Any celebration of long-term passion and concentrated genius is a good basis for a museum, in my humble opinion.

My appreciation started when my second grade class visited the old Milwaukee Natural History Museum when it was still housed in just a few floors of the central library. The diorama of that Aztec human sacrifice cost me lots of sleep over the years — a demon not completely exorcised until I climbed to the top of the real pyramid with my son thirty-five years later.

That is the power of a well-done exhibit — it sticks in visitors’ minds to terrorize or inspire for years and years. I remember some great lobby displays too; many gear companies have cutaway machinery in their lobbies that few employees even notice.

Unfortunately, there is not a museum devoted to the gear trade. We have a great shared history of gear development, although it is spread out among many locations, companies, and countries. There are bits and pieces of our history scattered in dozens of lobbies and legacy machines around the world. What are your recommendations for museums the gear guy or gal should visit? Or, better yet — for how to for to get a central gear museum created?

About Charles D. Schultz 634 Articles
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

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