2 out of 4 stars
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As a self-professed "museum junkie" and science center nerd myself, the non-fiction book Lives of Museum Junkies caught my attention and I just had to pick it up. Lives of Museum Junkies features mini- and full-length biographies of well-known interactive science museum directors, including the author, Marilynne Eichinger. This book also gives valuable insight into the painstaking process of launching a science center from an idea into a productive enterprise.
The book begins with the author, a young stay-at-home mom in the 1960’s, speculating about the possibility of opening an interactive, indoor playground for her children to play in on rainy days. The idea quickly took hold, and Eichinger persevered to bring her science museum, Impression 5, to fruition. The book is divided into seven sections examining the different aspects of museum leadership. Each section is then further divided into chapters which include “lessons” from the author or person of interest on the subject at hand. Several of these chapters may be interesting to readers interested in entrepreneurship beyond non-profits or museums.
One thing that initially attracted me to Lives of Museum Junkies was the featured biographies of individuals in prominent positions in STEM education industries, including the National Science Foundation and PBS. However, I found these biographies disappointing. I was surprised that the profiles were only a few pages long each. The title of the book had led me to believe that more of the book would be devoted to these interviews. The author's own story comprises the bulk of the book.
I liked how Lives of Museum Junkies is balanced in regards to the high and low points of museum management. Eichinger details the struggles she faced in the early days, such as securing funding and a location for her fledgling science center. I especially liked, though, the bravery Eichinger shows in revealing the sexual harassment she faced, even after rising as the president of the successful museum. Eichinger experienced numerous troubles in her years of museum management, but they appear to be equally balanced by the rewarding nature of the venture. Eichinger witnessed children (and adults) learn in the space that she created, experienced rare diversity during the 1960s, and forged many gratifying relationships, among other benefits.
I give Lives of Museum Junkies 2 out of 4 stars. The book appeared to need a more thorough editorial review. I found several typos throughout the book that were distracting, and I had to reread several awkwardly phrased sentences. On top of these grammatical issues, I found myself getting lost in the timeline as the stories do not flow in chronological order. There were quite a few details I had to garner from context clues that were not made explicitly clear as the author jumps around in time. I recommend Lives of Museum Junkies to readers interested in the inner workings of museums or entrepreneurship stories.
Lives of Museum Junkies
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