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Traveling Museum Exhibit to Educate Public on Financial Literacy

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Rainworks Omnimedia, a producer of traveling exhibitions for science and natural history museums, announced Monday that it would launch an 8,000 square foot interactive, multimedia exhibit to highlight the need for better financial literacy.

"For most of us who are striving towards financial freedom but don't have a formal education in finance and accounting, personal finance is an enigma," Gail Vida Hamburg, CEO and founder of Rainworks told AdvisorOne by email. "While I was doing research for a museum exhibition on health a few years ago, I found a global study on money worries and disease. I felt as I delved deeper into this near universal worry and fear about money that affected individual health, marriages, and whole families and communities, that financial literacy could help people manage some of these worries."

Hamburg noted that for many people, managing personal finances is a burden.

"Your eyes glaze over as you try to make sense of SEP, index funds, ETFs and penny stocks," she joked. "I felt that what was lacking in financial literacy education was entertainment. I wanted to design a museum exhibition that would make personal finance and money matters engaging and entertaining. I also wanted it to be inspirational and so I decided to frame it as a journey towards financial self-actualization. That is really the genesis of Economia: Money Matters." 

Gail Hamburg, Founder/CEO, Rainworks Omnimedia The exhibit targets families and schoolchildren, Hamburg (left), wrote, but is designed to include adults of all ages, "the kind of visitors who go to science, industry and natural history museums." It will feature lessons on the "foundations of personal finance and financial literacy," including budgeting, spending, good and bad debt, credit card use, mortgages, predatory loans, credit unions, college loans and retirement, according to Hamburg.

The exhibit features several distinct displays to address those myriad issues. A gallery of interactive exhibits called "College Road" shows students and parents how to pay for college "without going broke," Hamburg told AdvisorOne. "The Third Act" is a gallery that outlines how to prepare to a worry-free retirement. Other exhibits will show how compounding helps grow savings, and a "mega installation" covers how the stock market works.

"With the help of award winning and visionary designers, we are creating an exhibition that will be educational and entertaining and that we hope will change the way people think about money," Hamburg wrote.

She notes that there are already exhibits on currency and money that attempt to educate people on broader economic subjects. "With Economia: Money Matters we want to focus on personal finance, which I define as everything one needs to do to achieve financial self-actualization," she wrote. "We are working with thought leaders in the field of financial literacy and personal finance and interpreting their knowledge into the exhibition with the help of our design team."

The exhibit is expected to cost $4 million. Displays will be designed by San Francisco-based Snibbe Interactive.

"For Economia, we are thrilled to infuse the sometimes scary topic of finance with highly engaging social interactivity that promotes healthy life-long habits for leveraging the power of compounding, spending, college planning, retirement, and even explain how our stock market works," Snibbe founder and CEO Scott Snibbe said in a press release.

"We are particularly excited about working with [Snibbe]," Hamburg wrote, "who will create high-octane and engaging social interactives to illustrate abstract and difficult personal finance principles."

The exhibit will debut in California, and begin touring in fall 2011.


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