Museum exhibit turns into a great public relations tool for clubs
Rotarians in District 5150 (California) put Rotary artifacts on display as a recruiting and public relations tool.
Where can you find a Rotary convention badge from 1915, an iron lung, and a map pinpointing every Rotary club in the world?
Rotarians in District 5150 (California, USA) put all these items and others on display as a recruiting and public relations tool at the San Mateo County History Museum in Redwood City, California.
The exhibit, which ran for six months, was the brainchild of Rod Carpenter, of the Rotary Club of Redwood City. Carpenter had just retired from a job at the museum and knew that an exhibit room was available. He instantly thought that his district could put it to good use.
"I thought that if my district had an exhibit, it would be great public relations," Carpenter said. "It would let people know what Rotary is, and it would be a great way to recruit new members."
Mitch Postel, museum president and member of the Rotary Club of San Mateo, agreed to lend the space, so Carpenter presented the idea to then District Governor Mark Flegel and District Governor-elect Brian McLeran. They in turn allocated $18,000 from the district’s advertising budget to assemble the exhibit.
All 40 clubs in the district were encouraged to provide items for the exhibit, and about half chipped in.
The bulk of the exhibit, which opened in May, featured Rotary-related artifacts, including a child’s iron lung, a convention badge from 1915, and dozens of pins from Rotary events that members of the district’s clubs had attended. The exhibit also detailed the district’s history and displayed information about Rotary International, including a large world map illustrating where every club is located. There was also a guestbook visitors could sign if they were interested in becoming a Rotarian.
Past District Governor Bill Sturgeon says the exhibit, which closed in November, drew about 20,000 people. Given this success, local Rotarians are now considering taking the exhibit on the road as a mobile history tour on the museum's bus.
"The more exposure Rotary has, the better it will be in the long run for membership," McLeran said.