Going Local Has a Big Impact

A focus on one’s community will guarantee big dividends.  MCM has seen a great deal of success follow its implementation of our Only Local Initiative: attendance skyrocketed, prompting MCM to change its first-year projected attendance from 130,000 to 250,000; memberships soared from 1,900 to nearly 7,000 during its first year, and have now stabilized at more than 5,000.  Publicity consistently cites MCM’s local identity as a distinguishing feature; most recently, Parents magazine ranked MCM fifth among U.S. children’s museums and praised its green, Wisconsin focus.

MCM’s receipt of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service in 2011 is a testament to this approach. In addition to the original Promising Practice award, MCM also won a Best Practices Award from the Association of Midwest Museums, a Community Asset Award from Downtown Madison Inc., and a Badger Bioneer award for its Exhibits Director. Only Local is now MCM’s guiding philosophy.

People have responded to our local philosophy: Embrace your surroundings.  Find ways to incorporate not just local materials; local culture and ideas inspire people to look, listen, and learn. Everything you put into your space has a story, and every person who works toward your project’s common goal has some ownership of that space and that goal.  We’ve come to believe that going local whenever possible can foster that kind of connection between an establishment and its patrons; fairytales typically speak of faraway lands, but often the most vivid storytelling is that which originates close to home.

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