As an exhibits person, I always like to have a "Plan B" (or even Plan C or Plan D!) to deal with anticipated problems. Do you have spare parts at the ready for your interactive exhibits? Do you have a secondary (or tertiary!) installation schedule in place to deal with the seemingly inevitable construction delays for new museum buildings?
Those are good plans to make because even if those anticipated challenges never happen, you can still feel prepared.
But what about unexpected or unanticipated problems -- things that leave you feeling woefully unprepared or downright baffled?
Take, for example, the pipe that burst in my workshop yesterday. Unfortunately, the break occurred in between the exterior wall and the water meter, so the shut-off valve was after the burst section, which meant the only real way to definitively resolve the problem was to turn the water off outside the building at the curb.
After calling my wife at work, the fire department, and the water utility, I frantically started grabbing duct tape and rubber tubing in an effort to stop or slow down the gallons of water shooting out of the pipe like a firehose.
Eventually, a water utility worker came and turned off the water at the curb (but only after having to break open the metal cover to the access pipe -- but that's another story ... )
Anyway, as I spent today cleaning and running fans and calling insurance companies and plumbers, I realized that I had no real "Plan B" for what had happened with the burst pipe. I just had to trust and rely on a set of existing systems to carry me through to a place where I could begin to put things back to "normal."
I guess I share this to say that it is good to have a "Plan B," but it's also ok to realize that sometimes we will be caught off-guard.
In that spirit, I close by sharing this poem:
“Our Real Work” by Wendell Berry
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
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Paul Orselli writes the posts on ExhibiTricks. Paul likes to combine interesting people, ideas, and materials to make exhibits (and entire museums!) with his company POW! (Paul Orselli Workshop, Inc.) Let's work on a project together!
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