Monday, March 24, 2014

No Night at the Museum

   Sometimes, Company, even with the best of intentions one misses the point.  Take, for example, the good folks at the United States Secret Service.  They do a fantastic job of making sure that the political "leaders" of this country are safe and secure.  They do an equally fantastic job of looking good and running in suits.  Barney Stinson would be proud.  And I assume that they do an equally fantastic job fighting the counterfeiting of US currency, although no one ever seems to remember that is what they were originally created to do.
    And while they also do a fantastic job of literally interpreting the meaning of the word "museum," they sort of, in a way, fail at the spirit of the whole thing.  Let's start with the dictionary meaning:

museum (n) - an institution, building, etc. for preserving and exhibiting artistic or historical objects.

Okay, simple enough.  But that is a pretty broad definition.  If you want to get technical - and I do - my family was right when we called the old dance hall above my grandparents bar "the museum" because it was filled with "historical objects" that were being "exhibited."  In reality it was just filled with old junk and wasn't yet full enough to prevent anyone from looking at everything up there, even an eight year old kid.  But we were not correct in the spirit of what a museum is.  Because there were no purposefully erected exhibits or displays, and it wasn't really intended for people to see.
Secret Service - all of them.  They just want you to think "Matrix"
     That is where I take objection to the United States Secret Service Museum in Washington, D.C.  They have what appears to be a very, very nice museum in the basement of their headquarters there. Very, very nice, and it's filled with cool stuff too (they have the window from the limo that Reagan was riding in when an assassination attempt was carried out against him in 1981).  You have to be a.) a member of the Secret Service or b.) invited by a member of the Secret Service in order to visit, and that sort of just goes against the whole reason for having a museum.  It is one thing to preserve the important artifacts from your past, that is what archives are for.  But to spend all of the time, effort, and expense to create such a great place really should be open to the public.  Nay, needs to be, otherwise it can never really, truly serve its purpose.
      I mean, I get it.  I really do.  I completely and totally understand the reasoning as to why it is not open to the public.  The argument goes approximately like this: "There are items and displays in the museum that give away the secrets of how the Secret Service operates and having that knowledge in the public sphere could jeopardize the safety of our agents and those they are bound to protect.  Also, it will make our job really, really hard."  I agree.  You have a hard enough job, Secret Service, I don't want to make it any harder.  But I assume that somewhere in your budget there are line items to run the museum, create displays, acquire material, and pay the salary and benefits of a curator and probably at least one other staff person.  So put away a little money for reorganization.  Put all that sensitive stuff in a separate VIP invitation only room behind a door.  Commercial doors are only like $3000 these days so get it done.
     Let us see all the cool stuff in your museum.  Okay, let me rephrase that.  Let us see all the cool stuff in your museum up close and personal, and not through a video on Yahoo! News, although thank you for at least letting us see that.  But we want more.  We deserve more.  I am not afraid to whip out the "taxpayer" card, although in reality these days that is kind of like trying to win a pot by playing a pair of fives.  But live up to the spirit and intention behind any museum.  Open it up for us all. Because I really want to spend some time up close and personal with that interactive Wall of Heroes.

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