Inspiring Others: Using Exhibit Design to Further the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

Taylor Studios, Inc

4. Quality Education 15. Life on Land 17. Partnerships for the Goals

Overview

Taylor Studios' combines creative exhibit design that inspires people to explore their natural environment and promotes a positive view of nature. This attitude is also reflected in their company culture and many of their practices.

Authors

Anna Jentz

Anna Jentz

Grace Keane

Grace Keane

School

Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago

Professor

Nancy Landrum

Nancy Landrum

Innovation

Taylor Studios’ creative exhibit designs combine business, science, history, and art to create impactful experiences. Many of the exhibits they create are related to natural history. Taylor Studios co-founder, Betty Brennan, hopes that by experiencing their creations people will “fall in love with the model and be encouraged to learn more.” It is very important to her to teach the world about our environment and says it is often surprising what people do not know. By providing moving educational experiences, Taylor Studios is helping to educate people about the natural environment, sparking curiosity, and building positive perspectives of nature that encourage environmental care and protection.

This attitude towards the natural world, however, is present not only in their exhibit design but also in their practices as a company. After partnering with the University of Illinois, Taylor Studios became a part of the Illinois Green Business Association, implementing an active employee-led recycling program and upgrading their fluorescent lights to T8s. They have also repurposed an old Walmart, which they now call Taylor Mart, as their design and construction space. Working with Pheasants Forever, Taylor Studios transformed the backyard area of this space into one for wildlife, filled with native plant species. More importantly, love of nature and curiosity about its functioning is ingrained in their company culture. Many of their 35+ employees are or have been involved in nature in some way, including backgrounds working for the Forest Preserves of Chicago, Parks and Recreation, and cultivating native plants in their own backyards. Such backgrounds influence and reflect company values which help them build accurate, inspiring models that provide what is ultimately Taylor Studios’ greatest innovation - its ability to inspire curiosity and wonder about the natural world.

Inspiring Others: Using Exhibit Design to Further the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

Inspiration

The President of Taylor Studios, Betty Brennan, started this company with a love for the outdoors and a love for business. She had a business partner at the time who was an accomplished artist and he worked with a taxidermist on a job building trees for a nature center. And that work in the nature center is how the idea came about to start their own company building museum and nature center exhibits. Betty’s love of the outdoors, paleontology, and archeology is what really got this company started, as well as her business experience.

Overall impact

Taylor Studios’ mission is to “create products and experiences that inspire people within their core values.” These core values include integrity and honesty, profitability, relationships, societal value, and improvement. Given these values, Taylor Studios’ biggest impact is its creation of societal value. Through its exhibits, Taylor Studios builds experiences that educate society about natural history, archaeology, paleontology and more. They spark curiosity and inspire people to learn more and spread knowledge about our world.

Business benefit

The connection of business, art, and environment at Taylor Studios makes them a unique company that is able to fit into the niche market of building nature center and museum exhibits. They have the ability to reach clients all over the world who have the same desire of wanting to share that love of art and nature with other people. By connecting with different clients they are helping other businesses grow and thrive as well as educating and inspiring the public.

Social and environmental benefit

Taylor Studios benefits the environment and society primarily through its ability to inspire and educate people. They have done many projects relating to natural history, including making reproductions of native species to be used as teaching tools, working with ornithologists to build bird models for Goose Pond in southern Indiana, and numerous wetland, woodlands, and prairie exhibit projects for nature centers. Such projects encourage exhibit-goers to engage with the natural world and promote positive views of our environment. This leads viewers to think about the human impact on nature and inspire change. Furthermore, internal practices such as their recycling program and native plant backyard reduce Taylor Studios’ environmental footprint and add aesthetic and ecosystem service value to their community.

The Sustainable Development Goals this company fulfills includes Goal 4: Quality Education, Goal 15: Life on Land, and Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals. Goal 4, Quality Education, is all about ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. Taylor Studios is bringing education and learning opportunities to those who come and visit their work in museums and nature centers all over the world. They are able to share informative stories with those that want to learn through their exhibits that mimic nature, animals, and natural processes. Goal 15, Life on Land, is about protecting, restoring, and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managing forests, combating desertification, and addressing land degradation and biodiversity loss. Taylor Studios fulfills this life on land goal by creating exhibits that inspire people to go out and protect nature for generations to come. They pride themselves on the story-telling aspect of their company and the positive impact it can have on nature and those who are motivated to preserve and sustain the environment. Goal 17, Partnerships for the Goals, is about strengthening the means of implementation and revitalizing the global partnership for sustainable development. Taylor Studios has accomplished over 700 projects in 29 years in 44 states and 4 countries. They have worked with many different companies and organizations all over the world to spread their stories to those who want to learn and will hopefully take away something positive from the experience. They have great connections with the organizations they work with and often work with the same people on multiple projects. Taylor Studios is proud to say that they have an over 60% clientele repeat rate.

Interview

Betty Brennan, President

Photo of interviewee

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Taylor Studios, Inc

Taylor Studios, Inc

Rantoul, Illinois, US

Business Website: taylorstudios.com

Year Founded: 1991

Number of Employees: 51 to 200

Taylor Studios is a company located in Rantoul, IL that is based around planning, designing, and building exhibits that have a meaningful impact on humanity. They mainly focus on natural history exhibits that can inspire people to connect with nature. After being in the exhibit planning business for 29 years, Taylor Studios has worked on over 700 projects that help share historical stories and inspire people to immerse themselves in nature and history. Some of the projects they have worked on include natural history, cultural history, corporate clients, universities, modular exhibits, custom cabinetry, and woodworking.