Virtual Museums as Corporate Histories

Toymaker Fisher-Price recently unveiled a virtual museum with 90 exhibits to celebrate its 90th business anniversary. Its only location is on Instagram @fisher-price/toymuseum (www.instagram.com/fisherprice.toymuseum/); you won’t find it on the brand’s more retail-oriented website or that of its parent company, Mattel (both of which could use more robust About Us pages). The idea came from the real onsite museum in Fisher-Price’s East Aurora, NY, headquarters, now shuttered due to Covid-19. A few things to keep in mind if the idea appeals to you:

  • Virtual museums work best if you have objects to display, as Fisher-Price does.
  • What’s your organizing principle? F-P showcases toys by the decade.
  • Themes might work better for you, as they did for CorporateHistory.net’s virtual timeline for the State Compensation Fund of California (photo below).
  • You’re a service organization with few products to show? Try stories and profiles, in the style of the International Museum of Women. That’s a strictly virtual museum with no physical component, now part of the Global Fund for Women. (Photo below.)
  • Consider the possibilities of animation, virtual reality, and other digital-native building blocks.

In theory, these projects may look easy to develop. In practice, they require more than selecting pictures and slapping on captions. Check all the boxes for virtual museum success: a strong structure, a firm editorial hand, a writer and photo editor with a lively ear and eye, and a virtual designer/IT team attuned to history.

CorporateHistory.net’s Virtual Timeline for the State Compensation Insurance Fund of California, cross-organized by decade and topic.

The International Museum of Women exists only online.