Opening computer museums

Evan Koblentz evan at snarc.net
Tue Aug 19 11:23:13 CDT 2008


Starting a museum is a major endeavor if you want it to not suck.

The last time I counted (2 years ago) there were 15-20 computer museums in
the U.S. alone.  Not counting the Smithsonian, the breakdown is this:
there's the Computer History Museum (in Mountain View, Calif.), and
there's everyone else.

The CHM has millions upon millions of dollars.  It is a very professional
and high-end facility located in the former Silicon Graphics marketing
building.  Major donations from corporate bigwigs, etc., etc.

The others are all vastly smaller.  Some have space in other buildings;
others are just a few display cases called a "museum".

Here in New Jersey, we are extremely lucky.  We have a large space in an
existing non-profit science center.  We've been there for 3 years so far
rent-free.  Soon we'll have to pay our share of the utilities.  We raise
money through donations, by holding events such as the VCF East, and by
sometimes renting computers out as TV props, etc.

So my advice to anyone who wants to start a computer museum is: have a
promise of physical space BEFORE you start collecting artifacts;
understand the budget and insurance issues; and never go it alone.

I'd be glad to answer additional questions offline.




> At 03:11 PM 8/18/2008, joe lobocki wrote:
>>someone really should open a vintage computer museum near
>>chicago...Ive toyed with the idea, i think space in the old 3com
>>building in rolling meadows would be a fitting place for vintage
>>computing....
>
> I'd love to hear from anyone actually operating a computer museum.
> They seem like money sinks.  You need benefactor$.  Obviously, the
> best location for a computer museum would be where rich computer
> people like to live.
>
> I'd love to hear the typical ratio between exhibit space and
> storage/repair
> space, for example.
>
> - John
>
>





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