Four ways to embrace the Q-Cs wealth of museums

Posted Online: March 07, 2013, 3:43 pm
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By Joe Taylor
Quad Cities museums have certainly come a long way in the last few years.

The soon-to-be developed Children's Garden at the Quad City Botanical Center, the new Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, the Figge Art Museum, the Family Museum, the expansion and addition of the National Geographic Giant Screen Theatre at the Putnam, the German American Heritage Center, new exhibits at the Hauberg Indian Museum at Black Hawk State Historic Site and the expansion of the elephant enclosure at Niabi Zoo ready to be enjoyed on opening day Monday, March 11, are just a few improvements of our museums.

Roger Ruthhart's Sunday column, "Time to Lift Q-C museums from obscurity," certainly challenges our museums and the community to advance to a higher level through partnership.

Des Moines has its Bravo arts collaboration and Chicago has its "Museums in the Park" where about a dozen museums come together for joint marketing. We can get there too given four considerations:

-- Embrace the diversity. Quad Cities arts and cultural organizations are a diverse group. Some are small volunteer groups with hardly any budget and others are large, professionally managed not-for-profits. So a key to future thinking is to develop a path that will benefit all.
-- Embrace the fact that great partnerships take time. Collaboration is relatively new for arts and culture and successful partnerships take time.
The Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau was formed in 1990 and the Quad Cities Sports Commission in 1996. The arts/culture/heritage collaboration called Experience Quad Cities just got started in 2009 but is off to a quick start with regional awareness developed by the inaugural East West Riverfest last September. (Mark your calendars as East West Riverfest expand to three weeks, Sept. 16-22, 2013.)
Quad-Citiesy museum directors are reviving their every-so-often meetings to discuss how to partner, collaborate and improve the guest experience.

-- Embrace our museums as a package of four or five two- or three-hour
visits instead of long, single-day excursions typical of the museums in larger, metropolitan areas. Kim Findlay, president/CEO of the Putnam Museum, shared with me what a family said when she met them at the museum.
"Where are you from," she asked. "Chicago," the family replied. "You must go to the large museums in Chicago a lot," Kim responded. "No, we don't," the family said. "We come to the Putnam three or four times a year because the exhibits are always interesting, the admission fees are reasonable and we don't have to pay $30 to park our car for the day." Check out TripAdvisor and you will see Niabi Zoo highly rated because it is a small zoo. "Perfect for the family with toddlers and youngsters," one listing reads. "Plenty of animals to see and things to do but does not take so much time that a visit wears out the little ones and makes them cranky.

-- Embrace the relationship the arts, culture and heritage has with economic development. Our museums likely create many of the first impressions of our areas when guests visit. A thriving arts community bodes well for our economy, our workforce development and our quality of life.

So make plans to visit as many of the 37 museums identified in Mr. Ruthhart's column as you can.

You will learn, you will have fun and you will help grow the region not just for today but for the future.
Joe Taylor is president and CEO of Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau.


Local events heading

  Today is Wednesday, Sept. 17, the 260th day of 2014. There are 105 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: We are told league merchants have paid no attention to the prohibition on selling ammunition, but continue to sell just as before the order was issued.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The Rev. R.F. Sweet, rector of Trinity Episcopal Parish, left for the East to visit his boyhood home in Boston before attending the general convention of the Episcopal Church in New York.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Dr. E.A. Anderson was named to succeed Dr. E.L. Kerns as head physician of the Modern Woodmen of America, and moved to Rock Island from Holdingford, Minn.
1939 -- 75 years ago: One week late, because of the outbreak of war, Dr. E.L. Beyer resumed his work as professor of romance languages at Augustana College. Dr. and Mrs. Beyer left Germany on the last train to the Belgian border.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Employees in Turnstyle stores in Moline and Davenport will vote Oct. 2 in an election set up by the Chicago regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. Employees will vote either for the Retail Clerk International or for no union.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Rock Island High School is considering a step to help teen moms stay in school and get their diploma. The school board is expected to vote tonight on instituting an on-site child care center.

(More History)