I collect pin-back buttons, so when I heard about a Button Museum I had to go. I wasn’t expecting anything elaborate but I did think there would be more than a wall of display cases literally lining a wall in the button-manufacturer’s office area.
It was a case of where the back of the house did not consider the front of the house experience. The office employees were pleasant but we were clearly an interruption to their work. No one really knew any stories or history of the artifacts. Their prized possessions, campaign buttons from George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, were kept elsewhere for safe-keeping! (Isn’t that why you go to a museum – to see things you can’t see elsewhere?)
Most of all, it was a lost opportunity to create an experience. All you did was walk by display frames of random buttons and leave. They are a button manufacturer yet did not have an area where you could make your own button on site. There was no guest book or map where visitors could leave their mark to show from where they came or anything to make the visit special. No one asked whether I was a collector or why I came. There was a box of their castaways that you could choose a button from, but it could have been so much more.
If you want to keep your products and office environment to yourself, by all means, do so. But if you open them up to visitors and encourage them to visit your “museum”, consider your purpose for doing it. Presumably, it is to extend your brand, draw in new clients and increase awareness of your operation. If so, as much care should go into your visitor experience as to your manufacturing. If you invite visitors, treat them as guests. See the area from your customer’s view and think about ways that you can “wow” them and treat them like royalty for stopping by.