Published September 2010
By Gail Vida Hamburg
After five years in science communications — working for an exhibition producer conceptualizing, developing, storyboarding, scripting, interpreting, and promoting traveling exhibitions to natural history and science museums — I decided to go solo. I established Rainworks Omnimedia to meet the growing demand, in the natural history and science museum marketplace, for educational and entertaining traveling exhibitions with high production values, that resonate with families and schoolchildren.
Exhibitions like Titanic, King Tut, Da Vinci, and multiple cadaver and dinosaur displays that have traveled the global museum circuit have been blockbusters and membership drivers for museums. Dazzled by the numbers, (10,000 visitors at Leonardo in one day, 7000 visitors at King Tut on another), savvy businessmen have entered the market in droves to cash in on the blockbuster formula. More dinosaurs, more cadavers, more Egypt, and more iconic historical figures from Genghis Khan and Alexander to Abba and Michael Jackson.
From the beginning, I envisioned Rainworks as an education company that produced exhibitions to improve literacy in critical areas that shape all our lives. Our planned production slate includes exhibitions on personal finance, technology, mathematics, and beauty. A long time private donor to girls’ literacy and clean water programs, I also wanted to make rain for my twin causes. I selected trusted organizations working in the field, whom Rainworks will support after it achieves financial sustainability.
I founded Rainworks long before I was fully resourced; I couldn’t wait for everything to be perfect before I jumped. I knew I had to seize the opportunity or lose ground to those who could easily claim the territory in pursuit of a single bottomline. In this, I have taken the principle of unreasonableness as far as I could—investing myself, my money, and my faith in my own obsession!
I am at SOCAP10 as an exhibiting sponsor for several reasons. I’d like to meet Rainmakers who will help me move my company forward. I’d like to meet advisors—social enterprise thought leaders, investors, and financial experts. I’d like to meet a Spock-like CFO with whom I can have a Vulcan mind-meld. I’d like to meet activists working in girls’ literacy and clean water to add to my advisory board.