In an increasingly virtual world, museums remain an important testimony to authenticity. But what happens when museums add an element of virtual reality to the scope of existing stories and artifacts? The new interactive “Impact of CUSOs” exhibit at America’s Credit Union Museum in Manchester, N.H., is beginning to reveal some answers that could help shape how history is viewed. The real-time accessibility of this new display makes it a quintessential bridge between current curiosities and the historic role CUSOs have played in the progression of the credit union industry.
The “Impact of CUSOs” exhibit tells the story of the value of CUSOs to the credit union movement and outlines the foundation on which CUSOs were built. This exhibit exists to spread awareness of CUSOs and teach others about the pivotal ways in which they have helped credit unions balance trends throughout history.
The exhibit uses an interactive touch-screen display and has the power to tell a very big story in a very small space. For those unable to travel to the Manchester location, the exhibit will soon be accessible from any desktop computer. America’s Credit Union Museum is an amazing experience for anyone interested in the human side of the credit union story as it provides the opportunity to learn from history and the important impact credit unions have had on the communities they serve.
Key CUSO pioneers are given rightful recognition within the exhibit; these pioneers include: Dave Serlo, former President and CEO of PSCU; Guy Messick, General Counsel for the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (NACUSO) and partner of Messick, Lauer & Smith P.C.; and Sarah Canepa Bang, credit union industry expert and former President of Shared Branching at CO-OP.
With nearly 100 years of combined experience, there are no better people to tell the CUSO story than these three individuals. Serlo, Messick and Canepa Bang understood the importance of leveraging the power of collaboration to bolster an entire industry. Collectively, these visionaries were able to ensure a model for cooperative self-help that enables CUSOs to spur innovation, increase efficiencies, and gain economies of scale for credit unions everywhere.
Early CUSO pioneers recognized that while communities of the past faced different problems than those today, one thing remains the same: people. For all that has changed in today’s financial landscape, human nature remains much like it has always been: people and their communities are at their best when they exist to help one another. This belief is at the very heart of the credit union philosophy of “People Helping People,” something this exhibit is able to bring to life.
CUSOs number around 1,100 today, and like the credit unions they serve, they strive to remain fluid – some increasing in size, others decreasing, to meet the needs of their credit union owners. Dynamic collaboration at a niche level is at the heart of each CUSO interaction. Thanks to the Legacy Campaign that funded the new exhibit, everyone now has the opportunity to learn about CUSOs’ role in community economics and celebrate shared progress and achievements.
Studies have shown that organizations that are inclusive of all people and cooperate to uplift one another are historically more successful than those that do not. Time spent with the new CUSO exhibit is a reminder of this simple truth.