Due to an ever-changing economic and socioeconomic environment, museums are faced with new challenges everyday from being community advocates, transparent organizations, and relevant to their audiences. In finding solutions to these evolving obstacles, Rohit Bhargave presents his acronym TRUST in his new book Likeonomics. In institutionalizing his strategies into the non-profit sector, we are able to analyze an organization’s likeability.
TRUST is made up of five principles: Truth, Relevance, Unselfishness, Simplicity, and Timing. Through this semesters Issues in Museums class, I chose to conduct a likeability assessment on the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia. I narrowed down the institutions likeability report to concentrate on the S in TRUST: Simplicity. As a very dynamic and integrated institution, the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s mission is to preserve the history and heritage of chemistry and its related sciences. With an active research and academic core, the CHF reaches a range of scholars, historians, and chemistry enthusiasts. However, one audience in which I believe the museum may better serve are families with children. Due to the sophisticated content and application of chemistry, by implementing programs and concepts focused on the simplicity of the subject, CHF may prove successful in not only reaching, but keeping this new audience. Simplicity, however, does not mean dumbing down material. Rather, simplicity is the strategic reduction of information to what the audience needs and wants to know. In order for CHF to reach families with children they must first attract parents. As a parent, the job of facilitator and interpreter is taken on in order to communicate with their child(ren). For this interaction to be successful, quick and useful information is essential. In other words, simple instruction.
To further the concept of simplicity into CHF, I suggest the museum add to their programming an open lab demonstration/instruction performed by professional chemist and staff. Short and practical principles of chemistry may be carried out through hands-on activities and participatory strategies to engage their active audiences. Through this practice, CHF may present itself as a more trusted and engaging institution, both historically and presently.