When our Museum first opened its doors to the public some 15 years ago, the few visitors we attracted were mostly instrument collectors, radio hobbyists and electrical engineer-types. Nearly everyone who chose to visit had a background or history in radio and electronics.
Which, looking back made complete sense as the Museum didn’t start out with any completed exhibits or interpreted displays. None. Not in the beginning. In the beginning there were no professional or interactive exhibits, mainly because there was no budget.
And without articulated displays or a very knowledgeable—and very available—docent nearby, many visitors were left with nothing but walls and cases of important looking objects and devices whose stories largely remained silent.
In the beginning all we had were a handful of architectural drawings of the projected storefront and galleries, and a 25,000 square foot building filled with an unbelievable collection of rare scientific and historic artifacts, some of which we are still trying to comprehend to this day. Oh, and one more thing: we were also left with a drive and determination to see this collection sifted, selected, articulated and presented in a way that lets everyone who walks into our Museum know what a fantastic experience science and history can be. Period.
Today thousands of people of all ages, and from all walks of life, are drawn to our Museum. Over the last decade we have produced hundreds of successful events, concerts, lectures, tours, celebrations and live broadcasts. In the last 5 years the Museum has developed and performed over 1000 MegaZapper Electrical Shows. These wildly popular Shows are always evolving and consistently draw audiences of stunned visitors and awe-struck fire marshals. And during all these years, we’ve learned what people want most when visiting our Museum.
We believe every person who visits the Spark Museum is looking to have an experience. They might be here to see the fantastic galleries, attend a variety of Spark Education workshops, see a special lecture or event, attend a live KMRE radio broadcast, or see our signature MegaZapper Electrical Show—it doesn’t matter. What everyone wants is to have a memorable experience, something they’ll never forget. We are reminded of that message every time we open our doors to the public. Every time we see the look on a visitor’s face as a docent skillfully steps them through a dynamic demonstration.
“It’s one thing to read books and see pictures of the inventions that made Tesla and Edison and Franklin the famous individuals they are today,” says John Jenkins. “This is one of the few places where people can actually walk-up and see these devices function and operate. People come to experience wonder; we never forget that.”
Over the last year the Museum has taken significant steps to help ensure all of our visitors, whoever they are and whenever they visit, have the best, most memorable experience possible:
SPARK Top 40
To help visitors navigate through an often overwhelming collection, we have created a list of ‘Top 40’ objects, devices and displays every visitor should know is here! These selected items are divided into 3 color-coded sections: Interactive (Green);
Particularly significant (Red); and Daily Demonstrations (Blue). Now visitors looking for the many interactive devices embedded throughout the collection have a clear, color-coded guide.
If you haven’t seen our galleries in the last 6 months, then you haven’t seen our galleries! Several galleries have been newly developed and curated offering visitors a greater opportunity to connect with the discoveries that changed our world.
“It’s a lot easier relating to a dial telephone if you can actually operate one,” suggests Jon Winter. “That’s why the Telephone Gallery is so fun, you get to play telephone operator just like grandma!”
Whether it’s a rare Edison cylinder phonograph or a singing Tesla coil, daily demonstrations ensure every visitor gets the opportunity to see favorite devices in full operation.
2017 and Beyond
We have been wanting to develop a variety of highly requested exhibits featuring Tesla, Edison, Westinghouse, the AC/DC War of The Currents, Quack Medicine and medical devices, we intend to offer more interactive and educational science related devices and activities for kids, especially in our popular upstairs Activities Center.
It’s our goal to take all of our skill, all of our energy and all of your continued support to take this spectacular museum the memorable experience it can and will be. We’ll stay grounded. You stay tuned.