Why Cook should 'Think Different' on Apple Museum

Why Cook should 'Think Different' on Apple Museum

Summary: Computer historian David Greelish thinks that Apple should build a corporate museum on its new campus. It would be a great way to celebrate the dent that Apple created in the universe.

TOPICS: CXO, Apple, Hardware

Why Cook should 'Think Different' on Apple Museum - Jason O'Grady

I thoroughly enjoyed computer historian David Greelish's post about why Apple should build a corporate museum at its new campus and I agree with his premise.

Apple needs to build a public museum to celebrate its past and present. It also needs to create a dedicated public space at the new campus. A space where visitors can spend a couple of hours learning more about the company they respect, and about the past products and leadership which brought Apple to the here and now. A wonderful place for visitors to relax and learn about Apple's exciting past, while standing in the exciting present, and future of the company.

If you've ever visited The Mother Ship in Cupertino (on anything other than official business, that is) you may have left disappointed. Short of taking some photos of the sign out front and visiting the outmoded Company Store there really isn't much for a visitor to see or do at 1 Infinite Loop.

Apple's planned new corporate campus (photo gallery) is the perfect opportunity for it to celebrate the dent that it created in the universe.

Apple Campus 2 - Jason O'Grady

Jobs famously scrapped plans for a corporate museum in 1997 and gave the archives to Stanford, but I'm sure it would oblige if Apple politely asked for a few of the key items back. In addition to an archive, one wing could have a display containing a working sample of every Apple product ever made. Getting these would be easy as most Apple users have their own personal Apple museums tucked away in attics, basements and garages and most would happily donate their Apple relics to the museum in exchange for a small mention on the plaque.

I think that the idea of a corporate museum would gain more traction if it were located in an out-building on the periphery of the new Apple campus with its own visitor parking lot, facilites, etc. The last thing that Apple needs is a high-traffic, tourist-friendly museum that's actually "inside" Apple's sacred (and secret) hallowed halls. Talk about a security nightmare! If the museum were located on a small parcel of land on the perimeter of the new campus, with its own entrance, well away from the employee access roads, it might gain some support from senior management.

Apple could also build a massive, reference, flagship retail store on the perimeter of the new campus that would rival the San Francisco and New York City stores. It would be like mecca for Apple geeks. Apple could use it to beta test new layouts, floors, ideas etc. Heck, while we're spending Apple's money, it could build a nice amphitheater for musical performances -- Jobs always loved music.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think that Apple owes anything to its customers on its corporate campus -- especially not an inane shrine or amusement park -- (it is a place of work after all) but an Apple museum done right would elevate the company's brand awareness and build an incredible amount of goodwill with customers. Greelish cites the Mercedez-Benz Museum as an excellent case study.

In a follow-up to his original post Greelish makes his case for why Apple should take a look back (even though Jobs didn't) and I couldn't agree more. A tasteful museum on its new campus would be a great way for Apple to celebrate the company's achievements and to honor its past.

Topics: CXO, Apple, Hardware

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  • It's too self-serving and too soon.

    With Apple's stock price well over $600 per share, with at least one projection for a trillion dollar market cap by 2014, this is not the right time for Apple to create and "Aren't We Awesome Museum". Also, given that Steve Jobs died only six months ago, putting his achievements in a museum this soon could be seen as crass on the part of Tim Cook. Even if meant as a tribute, the timing of something like that is just wrong.
  • This would be a great idea

    I'm not an Apple user but still I think this would be a great idea. I know that if I was driving through Cupertino I'd be real tempted to drop in at an Apple museum, look at some displays, watch a video or two (put the 1984 video on a BIG screen!), and spend some general time just poking around. Maybe they could get the Madam Toussou's wax museum to create figures of the I'm a Mac and I'm a PC guys!

    If they do this I hope that they don't gloss over the failures along the way like LISA, Apple III, Newton, the first Mac laptop, etc. A real museum tells a story. It shouldn't be just a hall of fame.
  • Agreed

    Most companies have some kind of museum for the public so they can see their origins and remind employees of their roots.
  • Great example Walmart 5-10/Visitors Center

    The drawing above is much like the Walmart 5-10 even down to Mr. Sam's pick-up truck he drove till his passing.

  • Not a "museum"

    Hi, thanks everyone for the comments. As I have said on my own site and in my follow-up article, I believe I have given people the wrong idea with the use of the word "museum." What I suggest is better described as a visitor's center, store, cafe with a gallery of Apple's story. Look at the two pictures, this historical gallery is not intended to be a big loaded-down collection of everything they have ever put out. This whole premise that Apple can't tell it's own story and honor its past while staying the future-focused innovative company it is, is simply bunk. People will want to visit this campus and they need to prepare for it, so why not make something great, like they usually do. That's just my opinion.

    The Walmart Visitor's Center with the truck is pretty funny. I thought up having Steve Jobs' VW and Steve Wozniak's calculator represented myself though. Also, I see Apple's space being far more sophisticated and stylized, like one of their stores. How much money Apple has should be no reason as to why or why they shouldn't do this. Plus, the campus won't open until sometime in 2015.
    David Greelish
    • Not bunk -- DIY

      If you want to spend your time memorializing then build a museum yourself. It's not bunk that Apple has more important things to focus on.
  • Not going to happen

    Two things that I remember hearing before:
    1) During, I think the D5 conference, Jobs mentioned that in the transition from the 'old Apple' to the 'new Apple' they got rid of all the old stuff to start anew. Nobody wanted to cling to the past, if they were to embrace the future. Hence the donation to Stanford.

    2) In a presentation to Cupertino City Council, Jobs was asked by I think the mayor why there's no Apple Store in Cupertino, and Jobs responded that they've done their research and that there wouldn't be too many people coming in. It's somewhere on YouTube.
  • they got rid of old stuff

    Well, if they got rid of old stuff, let me help them establish a display. I have a Quadra 650 CPU (1993), keyboard and Laser Writer Select (great clarity, pea sized memory). I would be happy to donate them and get them out of my closet. Bunch of software too. All owner books, cables.