Irvin I. Rubin, a member of the Plastics Hall of Fame since 1994, wrote the following letter to the Board of Governors of the National Plastics Center and Museum in Leominster, Mass. It is reprinted with his permission.
The last 60 years has seen more changes in the way the world lives than any other comparable period in history. Without plastic this could not have occurred. It is the second-largest material used in the United States and probably its fourth-largest employer. It has liberated women from household drudgery, saved countless lives with its medical products, made modern communication a reality, among many many other things. It is involved in almost everything we do.
With all our great achievements we have no viable museum to show it. Disney, with its projected Epcot exhibit, has to show us the way!
We suffer from public distrust because we have not told our story.
One of the basic things I have learned in more than 60 years in our industry is that not to face reality leads to failure. A plastic part has to work. A material has to do its job. The reality is that the museum part has not and cannot succeed at its present geographical location. I and many others have queried people who have been there. Their reaction ranged from disappointment to dismay. Almost all of them blamed it in part on its location.
To have an economically viable museum one needs:
* Outside financial assistance from the government, foundations, companies, etc.
* Large attendance with an appropriate fee structure.
* A gift shop, coffee shop and other fund-raising functions.
* An exhibit that will inspire visitors to recommend it to their friends.
* A location that is readily accessible and close to a large population of potential attendees.
Therefore I suggest we relocate the museum to Chicago. Some of its advantages are:
It is a large, museum-oriented city.
McCormick Place attracts hundred of thousands of visitors to its exhibits. Many of them are related to plastic toys, housewares, hardware, etc. A great museum would attract those visitors.
Quality museum personnel are available.
I strongly feel that the city of Chicago would help in obtaining suitable space and even grant or obtain some financial assistance. Help and involvement from our industry should not be hard to get, especially at a tried and proven museum location. We have good SPE and SPI people there.
We need a suitable place to see if we can get the Epcot exhibit when Epcot is finished with it.
I have just obtained Armand Winfield's 250-300 cubic feet of artifacts and part or all of the current exhibit of his works for the museum. He had reservations about the ability of the museum to effectively use them primarily, because of its location.
The industry desperately needs a museum and you are the people to do it.
Irvin I. Rubin
R Design & Consultation