There are great lessons President Trump can learn about shaping his story from the re-design of the Nixon Library. Here are some genuine lessons that Thinkwell Group took on.
Question: What’s the most enduring part of Nixon’s legacy?
Thinkwell: If you said Watergate, you don’t know the whole story. Re-designed by the Thinkwell Group [thinkwellgroup.com]—an esteemed global experience design and production agency—the library focuses on the lesser-known details about Nixon to offer a balanced view. (Did you know he started the EPA and was a strong supporter of women’s rights?)
In other words, Thinkwell Group helped remake a legacy. And this begs the question: What if you could design the story that is told about you?
Here are four surprising questions the Thinkwell redesign tees up about telling stories—whether about a president, brand or simply, yourself.
#1. HOW WILL A STORY BALANCE OUT OVER TIME?
Thinkwell: In the 43 years since Nixon resigned, perspectives have evolved. We used the passage of time to highlight important accomplishments that might not have been fully appreciated a decade ago—such as signing the Clean Air Act and National Environmental Policy Act.
#2. WHY NOT PUT THE MOST DIFFICULT DETAILS IN THE SPOTLIGHT?
Thinkwell: We put the more controversial parts of Nixon’s legacy alongside his other accomplishments—creating a balanced perspective. The new story helped viewers draw their own conclusions and remember a human life isn’t black and white.
#3 WHAT IF YOU TOLD THE STORY TO A NEW AUDIENCE?
Thinkwell: Most stories (including presidential libraries) are targeted to address the needs of super-fans (or foes). Instead, Thinkwell asked: Why shouldn’t the uninitiated learn about Nixon? In re-designing his library, it targeted millennials—a group whose perspective of Nixon could be improved with some detail.
#4 HOW CAN YOU MAKE YOUR STORY AN EXPERIENCE?
Thinkwell: We focused on making the Nixon library an experience, with framed photo ops and immersive environments. This ensures that museum-goers—even the young ones—engage, and actually have a fun or surprising moment. Artifacts helped bring the story to life, instead of a leaving it a dusty piece of history.
The permanent galleries opened to the public on October 14, 2016. In addition to these newly opened galleries, the grounds include President Nixon’s Helicopter and Birthplace. The Helicopter and Birthplace may be closed due to inclement weather, including rain, wind, and excessive heat.