ASPA is the American Society for Public Administration. The organization’s website is: http://www.aspanet.org/scriptcontent/index.cfm

The ASPA Board has endorsed the goal of “establishing a National Public Service Museum and Student Center to serve as a place for American Youth to learn about the current challenges and past accomplishments of public servants.” In an article in the August/September 2011 issue of The ASPA Times, Richard Baum, Chair of the ASPA Museum Project Team, describes the project in detail:

“The Museum, to be based in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, would present information abut government policies and programs in a dynamic, interactive manner, taking a page from newer museums, such as the journalism focused Washington -based Newseum. It would serve as a place for youth, through class or family visits, to gain a better understanding of what government actually does and how and it does it”… The new Museum will show the government’s contributions to many of our Nation’s greatest accomplishments - including eradication of deadly diseases, rebuilding Europe after World War II, constructing the national highway system, and developing the Internet.These achievements, and many others, could not have occurred without the dedicated work of thousands of public servants.”

The plan for the Museum includes interactive media at the exhibit sites, blogs and computer as well as a variety of other activities to encourage interest and participation.

The entire article can be read at:  http://patimes.eznuz.com/article/News/ASPA_News/Why_ASPA_Supports_Establishment_of_a_National_Public_Service_Museum_Student_Center/22861

In response to my inquiry about including the Peace Corps Volunteer Experience, I was assured by Richard Baum that “Yes, we would love to incorporate the experience of volunteers into the museum concept.”

The Museum Team has begun consultation with Congress and legislation is being drafted to establish a public/private partnership. In the current fiscal climate, I think it would be impossible to predict when the Museum might become a reality.  However, it is good to know that at some future date, when the Middle Schools empty out in the Spring and Washington DC is flooded with kids, in colored T-shirts coordinated by school, coming to claim their government, that there will be a new Museum to visit.  This Museum will show who does the work authorized by the laws. And, along with exhibits about soldiers and astronauts, clerks and accountants, kids will also be able to learn about the work of Volunteers.

This is not the only Museum in the planning stages.  RPCVs for years have been hoping to have such a place dedicated solely to the Third Goal of the Peace Corps. But ASPA’s efforts at a Public Service Museum appear to be further along than these other efforts. There will be more about these RPCV efforts in a subsequent report.