These are three important points that I didn’t address in my
review of “Baltimore Heroes:”
According to GEM’s website, Heroes strives to showcase the “unique personalities and businesses that make Charm
City so charming.” But, the problem is, they’re trying to do so in a room that
is maybe 20’ x 20’ – nowhere near enough room for three centuries of
philanthropy, innovation and athletic achievement (even though they have an
entire separate museum immediately below them for sports).
They currently get around this by rotating content every
four months, in other words, making it what it should have been all along – a
series of temporary exhibits (except more tightly focused on one individual or
group). For instance, they could do an entire exhibit on Baltimore radio
stations, rather than simply displaying a few neatly folded T-shirts on the
bottom shelf of their platinum artists’ case.
Another idea, and I’ve toying with this for a while, would
be to sell\lease the adjoining “Extra! Extra!”
exhibit to another museum, move Heroes into that much larger space and then
shift “Going Global: 1991-2003” into the old Heroes space. This would be much more work
and be only a temporary solution at that, but it is easier and far less
expensive then spinning it off into its own gallery (see below).
This leads into the exhibitions second major problem: there
is nothing to tie it into the rest of the museum. Geppis is an “entertainment
museum,” and while not explicitly stated, these galleries reflect the shared
values and experiences of the entire country not the hyper-local jingoism
expressed by this exhibit.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with civic pride,
but this is not the venue to display it in. It’s about knowing who your
audience is – in this case tourists\visitors – and what they are looking to see
in a museum of this sort. Specifically, they are looking for that “shared
experience” I mentioned earlier, but regional magazines, old neighborhood
prints and TV station logos are not part of said experience.
It is this point that leads me to believe that the idea
behind this exhibit is worthy, but it is a poor match for its venue. If this
exhibit were located across the hall from “Nipper’s Toyland”
or in the back room of the Baltimore Visitor’s Center,
I wouldn’t bat an eye. I can also see it housed at Power Plant Live as part of
a mini-museum row with MAP and the National Pinball Museum or coupled with the proposed
Ripley’s museum in the warehouses behind Camden Yards or even a
separate space downtown (I hear Charles Center is vacant).
I don’t expect the museum to take my points seriously, but I
think Baltimore’s heroes deserve more than what this current show is offering