The Last Word
Plans are underway for a new interactive museum in London that aims to tell the global story of insurance and attract new talent to the industry.
- Lori Chordas
- May 2020
Imagine traveling through space, riding in a self-driving car, feeling the powerful rumbles of an earthquake and sailing on the ill-fated Titanic all in one day.
Simulations and exhibits could soon bring those experiences to life in a new Insurance Museum (IM) experience in London.
The “free-to-enter” IM is set to open in spring 2021, and will share the heritage story of insurance through physical artifacts, experiential exhibits, video installations and content focused on global events that have had a major impact on the industry, including the 1666 Great Fire of London, 1906 San Francisco earthquake, climate change, Sept. 11, the Intelstat 603 space rescue, Hurricane Katrina and the 1912 sinking of the Titantic, said project manager Jonathan Squirrell.
When the Chartered Insurance Institute moved its head offices out of the historic Aldermanbury building in 2018 to its new home next door to the original site of the Lloyd's Coffee House on Lombard Street in London, CEO Sian Fisher asked former CII president Reg Brown to lead a working group to decide what to do with the CII's collection of insurance relics, rare books, fire marks and other artifacts that were in storage and inaccessible to the public.
“Brown seized the idea and opportunity of creating the IM with the worthy aim of educating the public about insurance; enticing insurers, brokers and other stakeholders to share and display their historic items and memorabilia,” Squirrell said.
He said the plan is to create a “phase one, pop-up museum to enable the physical creation and perfection of the museum concept” before moving to a permanent residence in about six years.
Currently a search for a venue to house the pop-up museum is underway in London's historic EC3 area, “the heartland of insurance,” Squirrell said.
“We want visitors to walk out of the museum and be surrounded by both the history and the modern world of insurance in the world's financial capital,” he said.
Along with seed funding provided by the CII, donations are being sought from individuals and businesses to support the Insurance Museum Initiative (“IM IN”), which aims to build cross-market funding for the museum venue development and delivery.
At the end of March, nearly £40,800 (US$47,262) has been raised through the IM website, and corporate supporters continue to sponsor the initiative from a Who's Who list of industry leaders including Aon, Swiss Re, Hiscox, Axa, IGI and Marsh.
The initial goal, Squirrell said, is to raise £3 million (US$3.7 million) to fund the venture. Then, along with revenue generated from paid events, donations and the museum's coffee and gift shops, he hopes to raise an additional £3 million annually for exhibitions, operations and staffing and to build the funds for the permanent visitor venue.
Squirrell said he hopes the IM, which will include the delivery of a documentary film series and digital resources, will one day be used as a template for other museums across the globe.