I'm A Museum Person

I’m A Museum Person: Betty Brennan

Photo via Wikipedia.

My name is Betty Brennan, and I’m a Museum Person.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I own a planning, design/build exhibit company called Taylor Studios, Inc.  I’m an entrepreneur.  I started the company in a garage and renovated chicken coop.  Twenty years later Taylor Studios has over 300 projects in museums, nature centers, universities, visitor centers, corporate lobbies and anywhere a unique story needs to be told.  I also a humorous, farm girl, horse lover, animal enthusiast, nature admirer, traveler, goal setter, business player sort of girl.

Why do museums matter to you?

From a straight forward point of view, they matter because they support the business and my staff.  Beyond that, we love museums.  They tell the stories of our past, they preserve our history, they can transform you to another time and place, they can touch your soul, they teach, they inform, they are fun, they inspire, they increase knowledge, they are a window to nature, they envision the future, they are places of discovery and the human experience.  If through our exhibits we can touch someone’s urge to know, love or acknowledge the content we have in a ways improved humanity.  With knowledge comes appreciation and sometimes action.  Museums add this richness to people’s lives.  They can brighten our world of understanding.  What a grand thing!

What is your favorite museum memory?

We stopped by the Roswell UFO Museum.  I read a copy panel I have never forgotten.  It went something like this, “we were buck naked in the back of my pick up truck when all hell broke loose.”  I like to say it with emphasis.  Now that copy tells an unforgettable story.  It’s the best copy ever.  I’m still laughing when I type this.  Sometimes humanity needs to lighten up and laugh.  Museums can do that too.

Photo by Jeff Kubina via Flickr.

What museum would you love to visit?

I have been to hundreds of museums.  It’s what I do.  I don’t have a particular one in mind that I must see.  My favorite time period is the Pleistocene.  So, I’ve always intended to visit the La Brea Tar Pits.  I have been to that area of the country many times and have never stopped there.  I would love to continue visiting museums every chance I get.

What is your dream museum job?

I have it.  To own a company that has 20 projects going at one time is quite amazing.  In any one day you could learn about trains, the civil war, prairies, African-American history, a particular fort, a particular time period, etc.

When you think of the perfect exhibit, what is in it?

It’s an exhibit that inspires and engages the visitor.  It provides something more than a book, the history channel or the classroom.  The content is well organized, relevant, thematic and has a point of view.  There is an easy flow.  The copy is concise and poignant.  There are more visuals than words.  The visuals are a variety of media: graphics, photographs, 3D objects, immersive environments and A/V.  If I had a pleasant experience and walked away from the exhibit with a different point of view, new knowledge and the desire to learn or do more, then it is perfect.

Who is the funnier museum twitterer…@SUEtheTrex or @NatHistoryWhale?

I’ll go with NatHistoryWhale.  I mean whales are probably genetically prone to being more funny than a T-Rex.  Check out our tweets @TSIExhibits.  We are really pithy.

What is the most random item you have bought from a museum gift shop?

I buy a lot of museum magnets.  They are all over my fridge.

Magnet Collections Come in All Shapes and Sizes. Photo by Photocapy via Flickr.

To test your museum knowledge, what cities are the following museums in? The High Museum of Art, Experience Music Project, Musee de la Civilisation, the Courtauld Gallery, and the Kuntskammer.

The EMP is in Seattle.  The rest would be a guess or Google search.  I guess I have a lot more museums to go see.

What museum would you move into for a month if you could?

I recently visited Paris and am tempted to say the Louvre given its size.  I could certainly find something new to learn every day.  However, I have a special place in my heart for Natural History museums.  Since, I have never been to London and their Natural History Museum is vast,  I will pick that one.

Out of all the museums you have visited so far, which one is your favorite?

The Field Museum in Chicago.

What is the most bizarre museum you have ever visited?

The Thing in Arizona.  Oh, my gosh all those billboards on the empty desert road eventually suck you into visiting this museum.  I remember the billboards more than the museum. Another all time favorite is The House on The Rock in Wisconsin.  This crazy experience is definitely worth the trip.  I think I recall Santa on a surfboard being chased by a life-sized whale.  You can’t beat that with a stick.

Scenes from the House on the Rock. Photo by ChrisL_AK via Flickr.

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Thanks to Betty for sharing her experiences. If you’re interested in participating in the “I’m A Museum Person” series, send us an email at editor@museumist.com, and we’ll get your story up on the site.

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