Fundación MAPFRE in Mexico and the MIDE (Interactive Museum of Economics) have been collaborating closely since 2014 on a program which strives to make visitors aware of how the economy forms part of everyday life and comprehend the need to plan for their future.
TEXT: ÁNGEL CASTAÑEDA Y JORGE VIVEROS IMAGES: MIDE
When people think of a museum, what usually comes to mind is a space where you can appreciate pictorial or sculptural works, or even learn about ancient cultures. And, specifically, if we talk about the cultural alternatives on offer in Mexico City, there are a large number of museums dedicated to themes somewhat out of the ordinary (e.g. tequila or chocolate). However, people rarely think of a place that has been offering something really different for several years now within the historic center of Mexico City, namely the MIDE (Interactive Museum of Economics).
It was back in 2014 that the relationship between Fundación MAPFRE and the MIDE began with an interactive game called Memorama de Seguros [Insurance Match Up], in which participants had to pair 18 digital cards with concepts such as policy, premiums, coverage and beneficiaries; the aim of the game was to raise awareness among visitors about the different risks to which they are exposed, and the importance of exploring options to protect their assets and understanding how insurance works. Over 300,000 people played this interactive game in 2015 and 2016, with the result that both institutions took the elementary step of bolstering their relationship.
Also in collaboration with Fundación MAPFRE, 2017 saw the opening of the Assets, Risk and Insurance hall. Visitors here interact with a recreation of everyday situations, discovering in the process the causes and consequences of not protecting their property, and thus become aware of the need to have emergency plans in place to cover any eventuality. Visitors are also presented with three scenarios within the Finance in Society hall, where they can live out interactive experiences filled with examples from everyday life. In this way they begin to comprehend issues that, in principle, may seem complex or far removed from their present lives. They are thus encouraged to reflect on the importance of having protection schemes in place.
In the year 2019, over 160,000 people visited the museum and more than 1,000 participated in the workshops
To learn more about the collaboration between the two institutions, the museum’s director, Silvia Singer, offers us her perspective on this permanent exhibition within their facilities:
In a nutshell, what is the MIDE’s prime objective?
The MIDE is a place that invites visitors to discover how the economy is an essential part of their everyday activities. The aim of this museum is to spark curiosity so that people feel the need to find out more about the role we all play in society as economic actors. We want people to not only learn a few basic economic concepts, but rather that they can adopt them and put them into practice. They can thus enhance their view of how the world works and, as a result, make better decisions with regard to their well-being, their future and, of course, their present.
In the MIDE we want visitors to discover that they are making decisions all the time in their daily lives, appreciate the fact that there are different ways to do this, and consider the information they possess before making these decisions, so as to progressively enhance their well-being.
On top of all this, we also offer financial education. This affects the decision-making process, not just as regards our limited resources, but also informs us how to best manage our financial resources in a responsible, informed manner, enabling us to anticipate future situations and build up our assets; that would be the basic idea.
What is the profile of visitors to the MIDE?
The most important segment is the 15-23 age group, accounting as they do for 75 percent of our visitors. The MIDE was designed for children from the age of ten, although we have always been prepared to receive younger children, and of course adults, family groups and so on… a highly diverse public. We feel that our public is distinguished, not so much by their age groups, but rather by their interests. And, in this sense, I believe the MIDE is catering to different types of language, different questions and different levels of information, in such a way that we trust it proves attractive for truly diverse groups. And we’ve achieved that.
Why is it important to have a hall and a workshop dedicated to the importance of insurance within your facilities?
Insurance policies are precautionary financial instruments. However, there are two things that are most important in the Mexican context. Firstly, our lack of culture with respect to insurance, given that we are a society that generally acts on the spur of the moment to tackle situations as they arise, failing to plan ahead how to be able to resolve them. It’s therefore most important to try to create a culture of protection and ensure that this culture is related to people building up their personal wealth. The wealth we start accumulating once we enter the productive stage of our lives – i.e. when we start working – can be seriously threatened if we fail to protect ourselves, at the very least, against the most typical eventualities. If you have a medical problem, for example, your wealth and that of your family is at risk, given the need to deal with considerable expenses. Likewise, when our assets are not insured and we may lose them in an unforeseen incident.
We imagine that the workshops in the Fundación MAPFRE hall have produced some interesting anecdotes…
So true. One day a child commented how his dad had his phone stolen when traveling on public transport. As soon as he realized, he contacted the store where he had bought it to report the incident, as he had taken out insurance. They scheduled an appointment, he went to the store and they gave him a refund to buy a new phone. The child said his dad had purchased the insurance as the store had offered it, not because he realized how useful it could be, until the theft. The boy comprehended the importance of insurance and added that, when he grew up, he was going to take out a policy to protect his mom.
Do you feel the hall and the workshop have so far met the objectives for which they were created?
Indeed so. In the MIDE we carry out ongoing evaluations of our experiences and, in particular, this hall has been very well received, with an extremely good rating from our visitors. Moreover, thanks to the interactions in the hall and the workshop, we have engaged in dialog with our visitors, enabling them to realize what assets make up their wealth portfolio, some of which they had never actually considered as such, for instance their health. Other discussions have revolved around the importance of adopting protection measures so as to safeguard that wealth. In addition, the dialog with participants in this experience has enabled us to establish that, as a result of certain natural disasters, interest in insurance has grown. However, we’re still trying to overcome the perception that insurance is merely another expense, whenever you don’t have to make use of it.
In your opinion, how could the workshop’s activities be improved or enriched to boost visitors’ knowledge of the importance of insurance?
We must keep striving to raise awareness of the importance of purchasing insurance as a form of protection, by means of outreach efforts at several different levels. One of them is the implementation at home of the ideas proposed during the workshop. To achieve this, what is needed is to design supplementary material that could be taken home for the family to continue working on the topics and notions analyzed in the workshop. Another highly important sector is to consider children and young people when creating educational programs related to social and financial protection. In this way, training in financial culture can be initiated at an early age and, in a totally natural manner, they can become aware of how useful tools such as insurance are. Moreover, the children usually share what they have learned with their families and this cascading effect enables us to reach a much wider audience.
What role does Fundación MAPFRE play in all this?
Obviously, Fundación MAPFRE has been very important for the MIDE. Together, we’ve embarked on an educational venture we hadn’t addressed before. The hall we’ve set up thanks to its sponsorship has allowed us to work on this area for the first time, and elaborate on issues such as financial security and the protection of personal assets. We love the fact that we are all learning together, truly a winwin experience. I’d like to thank Fundación MAPFRE on behalf of all our visitors who are benefiting from this information, animations, workshops and other activities organized in the museum.