Chicago, IL, USA (April 2, 2012) /PRNewswire/ — April is Financial Literacy Month — less a cause for celebration than an opportunity to spotlight the national commitment to financial education. The proliferation of books, seminars, websites, games, and apps on personal finance should give Americans all the information they need to increase their Money IQ.
Yet, several economists maintain that conventional programs don’t work because they are not engaging. Recognizing the need for compelling financial education for kids, teens, college students, and adults, Rainworks Omnimedia — a social impact innovation company in Chicago — is producing Economia: Money Matters, a traveling museum exhibition of personal finance.
The immersive multimedia exhibition is the brainchild of Gail Vida Hamburg, founder and CEO of Rainworks, who develops museum learning experiences for BODY WORLDS exhibitions in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Her work for the popular health exhibits include multimedia sagas on neuroscience, cardiology, and aging.
Hamburg began dialogue with economists and academics in 2011. “There was a consensus that most programs fail the resonance and ‘stickiness’ test,” Hamburg said. “I felt that personal finance had yet to be narrated in a way that resonates or sticks, and that it could be memorably told in the museum space,” she said. “The story of money has the qualities of an epic. Money is fundamental and personal. It can make one feel powerful or dispossessed. Understanding money well can make us feel we’ve caught lightning in a bottle,” said Hamburg. She says the problem with financial education is content and delivery. “Financial trust indexes consistently show that Americans don’t trust financial institutions. Asking them to accept dense, impersonal financial information from these same institutions is bound to trigger cynicism, cognitive dissonance or the flight response,” she said.
To help tell the Economia story, she turned to a roster of experts including economists, neuroeconomists, academics, researchers, and actuaries. An interdisciplinary collaboration between financial and museum educators, Economia will meet national and state adult and children’s financial literacy goals and select K-12 STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics) curriculum goals.
“Economia is designed to be a journey of discovery through a curated design environment of finance, filtered through museum pedagogy,” said Hamburg, Master Planner and Principal Designer of the exhibition.
“Hands-on, age relevancy and interactivity are concepts associated with learning retention, in addition to reinforcement,” said economist, Dr. Lewis Mandell, Professor Emeritus at SUNY Buffalo. “This exhibit is an exciting way to bring personal finance to kids and adults throughout the country in a vital, hands-on way,” he said.
Galleries in Economia include:
- Money Secrets Garden — a gallery addressing the most pressing money questions and concerns of children;
- College Road — a gallery about college and careers, and financing higher education without majoring in debt;
- Financial Crisis Explained — created in alliance with the Museum of American Finance on Wall Street, a Smithsonian affiliate;
- The Third Phase — a retirement gallery for Baby Boomers and early planners.
A 7000-sq. ft. exhibition, Economia: Money Matters will begin touring science, industry, natural history, and Rainworks “People’s Museum” sites in early 2013. The exhibition will launch in Chicago.
Rainworks Omnimedia LLC is a Chicago-based social impact innovation company that produces traveling museum exhibitions designed to advance STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics) learning. A portion of Rainworks post-sustainability, after-tax profits supports family literacy programs at home, and girls literacy and clean water programs in the developing world.