Planning for Marketing at Museums & Historic Sites

Marketing is crucial for small museums and historic sites, but where do you begin? In this webinar, AASLH’s Hannah Hethmon will teach you, step by step, how to create a marketing plan tailored to your organization’s unique needs. A good marketing plan can help you more effectively allocated time and money, get approval for a marketing budget, keep you focused on high-priority goals, and ensure that your marketing objectives and methods are supporting your institutional mission.

Working through a series of prompts and questions, you will get a chance to see other organizations’ answers and get real-time pointers. At the end of the webinar, you will have the outline and notes you need to write your own marketing plan.

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Details:

Date: May 23, 2017

Time: 3pm EST/2pm Central/1pm Mountain/12pm Pacific/10am Hawaii

Cost: $40 members/$65 nonmembers

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Marketing Webinar Series:

This is the first webinar in a four-part series on marketing and social media at museums and historic sites. When you register for this webinar, you'll get 25% off registration for the other webinars in the series:

-Facebook for Museums and Historic Sites (June 13)

-Twitter for Museums and Historic Sites (July 11)

-Instagram for Museums and Historic Sites (July 25)

About the Instructor:

web-headshot-9-200-wideHannah Hethmon is the Membership Marketing Coordinator at AASLH. Before entering the public history/ museum field, she spent eight years doing marketing in the for-profit sector. In addition to a degree in English literature, she holds a master’s in medieval Icelandic history, philology, and manuscripts. She's a DC area native and a bonafied history nerd.

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When Behind the Scenes IS the Exhibit: Lessons from History Lab at the Indiana Historical Society

This article was originally posted on Museums + Social Media. It is reposted here with the author's permission.

As I write this, I’m enjoying an amazing conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, where I’m representing AASLH at the National Council on Public History (NCPH) Annual Meeting. Last night, I had the opportunity to attend and explore the museum of the Indiana Historical Society, where I fell deeply in love with their History Lab.

The History Lab “provides a rare opportunity to go behind the scenes of a real conservation lab and explore the technology used to preserve the IHS collection.” Conservation is almost always done behind the scenes, the many hours of labor and incredible skill-set going unseen and so unappreciated by the vast majority of museum visitors. But exhibits like the History Lab bring that work out into the light, using it as a tool to 1) help visitors of all ages appreciate the artifacts they will see in the rest of the museum and for the rest of their life and 2) create emotional investment in the organization and its success.

What does it mean to create emotional investment in your behind the scenes work? Well, I’ll tell you! But first, let’s check out some of the History Lab’s cool displays and interactives:

 

The Touch wall lets you run your hands over various materials that might need to be conserved. It’s a hands-on answer to the kids who ask “why can’t I touch that?” and after four years of touching, the wall has become instructive for adults as well by showing how small touches add up to extensive damage over time.

 

As a manuscripts and history-of-the-book nerd, I was fascinated by their paper cleaning display (above and below). I’m not interested in the slightest in the Laws and Acts of the Indiana Territory, but I’ll never look at another plain historical book in a museum again because I’ll wonder about whether they had to do as much cleaning as they did for this example. Below you can see that they actually saved the water from the cleaning.

 

A glass window and raised viewing platform let you look in on the working conservation lab itself. During the day, visitors can watch the conservators at work; a schedule of events lets visitors know what is getting worked on when, so they can stop by to see new projects underway.

 

A handheld digital microscope lets you see the tiny details and fibers in a number of historic papers and photos at different stations. Endless fun for kids from 2-92.

 

Last, but not least, they had classroom tables set up as they would when groups come through. I want to go back and play with the conservation tools!

 

So back to my earlier point: what does is mean to create emotional investment in your operational success?

A visitor may visit and enjoy, but never know how much time, love, energy, expertise, and actual sweat goes into even the smallest exhibit or maintaining even the smallest historic house. They may only see the static finished product. But in fact, many aspects of the museum field are fascinating. If your audience knows everything that goes into the museum or historic site, they can become invested in the outcomes of your projects, exhibits, and programs. Now that I, the visitor, have seen what goes into making even a small case of old books, I can appreciate the effort that goes into it. I’m more likely to understand why the museum needs to fundraise and why they have so many staff just to put on one exhibit.

So, I’m guessing you don’t have a special behind-the-scenes exhibit at your museum. So how can you let your audience behind the scenes and get them emotionally invested in the work that goes into the exhibits they enjoy? By sharing online in blogs and social media. My advice is to keep your smart phone or camera handy and record the parts of your tasks that are unique or interesting. Moving collections? Snap a photo and briefly explain some interesting fact about storing collections or the work that goes into keeping them organized. You might even experiment with live streaming the more interesting aspects on Twitter or Facebook, like when the North Carolina Museum of History filmed a Wright Brothers airplane arriving to the museum.

Just remember, if you are excited about it, it’s probably worth sharing. Just think about what your audience may find interesting about your work, and share nice quality photos of the process with simple, concise captions.

Want to learn more about marketing? Join one of four AASLH webinars on marketing scheduled this summer, all led by Hannah Hethmon: Planning for Marketing at Museums and Historic Sites, Facebook for Museums and Historic Sites, Twitter for Museums and Historic Sites, and Instagram for Museums and Historic Sites. You can also purchase a recording of the webinar Social Media 101 for Museums and Historic Sites.


Same Skills, New Tech: Social Media Lessons from a 1967 AASLH Technical Leaflet

Image by Queens of Vintage
Image by Queens of Vintage

At AASLH, we don't like to reinvent the wheel. We are constantly looking back through History News, Technical Leaflets, and old promotional materials to remember and rediscover all that the association has done over the last 76 years. Yesterday, we came across a 1967 Technical Leaflet called "Reaching Your Public: The Historical Society Newsletter." To our surprise, much of the advice given in this newsletter how-to is just as appropriate for history organizations on social media. It starts with this timeless challenge:

A question that historical agencies in increasing numbers are asking themselves is: How do we communicate with our membership and with the public, so that our work can be better known and more readily appreciated?

It is fortunate that there is a current interest in the need for telling our story more fully, since a problem is already half solved when we become aware that it exists. And we must admit that many historical societies have not given their best attention to informing their entire membership—to say nothing of the general public—of program, activities, and goals.

The way we communicate as organizations has changed considerably in the last sixty years, but the underlying need to engage our audience with "dynamic, moving, [and] inspiring" content persists. History organizations are still doing great work, but many still struggle to communicate the value of their work (and their passion for that work) to the public. In Charlotte S. Derby's Technical Leaflet, she advises the reader to try out the latest techniques for crafting an engaging newsletter. Just publishing an annual report is not enough, she says; you have communicate well and regularly.

 

IMG_2134

Today, you aren't limited to print or even your own mailing list. Social media gives cultural organizations a way to reach and engage with almost any target audience. In 2016, the Pew Research Center found that 68% of adults in the US are on Facebook. That's 3% more than in 2015, and only looking at one of the major social platforms. Social media is now the easiest way for your to expand your audience, and not just among younger demographics: 52% of adults 65 and older who use the internet are on Facebook. Social media is where the people are, where your people are.

I know the mandate to suddenly become social media marketers can be intimidating. To quote the leaflet again: "If the ideas of 'projecting your public image,' and introducing a dash of pizzazz to do it, seem foreign to the conservative historical society, be comforted."

As museum and public history professionals, you already have the tools and mindsets you need to creatively use social media. It's just a matter of applying your passion, expertise, and creativity to this new technology and always remembering that public awareness and engagement with your work is not optional. Mrs. Derby noted in 1967 that "attractive presentation of our work can indeed be considered essential to our survival," and that is only more true in 2017.

If you aren't sure where to start, begin with Charlotte Derby's criteria for a good newsletter writer, which are the same skills needed to tell compelling stories on social media:

  • Can write well in a simple style
  • Understands the need for brevity
  • Understands the work of the society
  • Can evaluate the work to give proper publicity priority

If you want more contemporary advice, download the recording of AASLH's recent webinar on Social Media 101

And since the January 1967 Technical Leaflet was accompanied by a promotion for an AASLH workshop on the same subject, it's only fitting that I use this blog post to promote our upcoming summer marketing series, which will feature a webinar on creating a marketing plan and one each on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for museums and historic sites. Keep an eye on our Event Calendar or subscribe to our events on Facebook so you don't miss them.


Brand History and Authenticity: The Archive at Carhartt

Still from Carhartt's historically themed advertisement.
Still from Carhartt's historically themed advertisement.

“Making good is merely a matter of exerting sufficient energy.”

I often return to this 1924 quote by Carhartt company founder Hamilton Carhartt in my day-to-day work. With 127 years of company history to preserve and provide access to, I’ve surely exerted my fair share of energy over the roughly two and half years I’ve been working at Carhartt headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. And in that same period of time, I’ve surely heard my fair share of questions pertaining to the purpose of a corporate archive and why it’s important to support the development of one. Why indeed?

Without an archive, there is no gold standard for a brand’s history. This can lead to missed opportunities. A dedicated historical resource at Carhartt has dramatically increased access to archival materials, allowing for in-depth research that was previously impossible. The company’s marketing department recognized this and worked with the archive to spearhead Carhartt’s 2016 advertising campaign, titled “The Future is in Our Heritage.” The archive provided information on key touch points in company history, whether it was a historical event that Carhartt was involved in (such as providing World War I service trousers to the military) or the years that we introduced our most iconic garments. The archive collaborated with product design and Kentucky-based sewing associates to recreate authentic replicas of the brand's iconic products depicted in the commercials from 1889 to current day.

Click here and here to view Carhartt’s Spring/Fall 2016 marketing campaign chronicling 127 years of product advancement:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImA817cEhjQ

Authenticity is rapidly becoming a key factor in driving consumers toward particular brands. Exposure to a company’s history, especially one as long as Carhartt’s, engenders trust and loyalty. People want to be involved with products that have a meaningful narrative. For some of Carhartt’s garments, like the iconic Chore Coat, this narrative is very natural because the piece has been in the line since the early 1900s. However, Carhartt’s designers constantly draw on the inspiration of Hamilton (or “Ham”) Carhartt even in the development of new products, seeking consumer feedback just as Hamilton did over a century ago when he pioneered market research, seeking feedback from railroad workers to perfect the design and construction of the brand’s legendary overalls. The overarching focus on quality and durability remains the same, so the history really serves as both a touchpoint to the past and a guide for the future. Authenticity has been part of the corporate DNA for 127 years and it keeps customers returning. Continuing to focus on Hamilton Carhartt’s legacy is increasingly attracting new consumers who respect that commitment.

 

overalls-engineer-sack-coat
1920s catalog image of classic Carhartt denim overalls and the Engineer Sack Coat, today’s Chore Coat.

Is There a Place for Pokémon Go in History Museums?

Some very excited colleagues came into my office earlier this week: “Hey…we’re not only the site of two Pokémon Gyms, but we’ve also got seven Pokéstops!” “OK,” I said, “now how do we engage these people?”

Since last Friday, Pokémon fever has swept the globe and we’ve noticed a definite increase in the number of people exploring our site. In the ridiculously off chance that you aren’t familiar with Pokémon Go, software developer Niantic hit a grand slam with this a location-based augmented reality mobile game that encourages users to get outdoors and explore their surroundings as they strive to collect coveted Pokémon characters. So why should history museums care about this? Is it just another fad? As it is, many of us struggle to continually come up with clever Facebook and Instagram posts—we don’t have time for another “thing.” Well, my team is of the mind that cultural phenomenons like Pokémon Go are definitely worth thinking about for a number of reasons. Here are two:

pkgo

Reaching out to new audiences

Take a minute to read Russell Holly’s article about who is playing Pokémon Go. Yes, players get caught up in their screens, but they are also socializing with friends and complete strangers. They are talking to one another while exploring new landmarks and neighborhoods. (How many of us would kill for this kind of ongoing interaction in our institutions?) Yesterday, my friend John who lives in Portland posted the following in his Facebook feed:  “Say what you will about Pokémon Go, but I've never seen so many diverse groups of people out on a Tuesday night. I went for a run along the waterfront and I saw friends and lovers wandering about, battling sundry creatures and experiencing the city. I snickered at one couple, who denied they were playing Pokémon until I admitted that I too had downloaded the app out of curiosity.” Like visitors to our museums, players of this augmented reality game have a variety of motivations for engaging with this technology. For some it’s nostalgia, for others it’s an obsession or a curiosity.

Seeing a great opportunity to engage with people who like to explore, the National Park Service quickly released a video welcoming Pokémon players to their parks and encouraging them to take a moment to explore the incredible reality of their surroundings. (Well done!) At the Homestead, we did something similar on a much smaller scale with a simple Facebook post.

pgopomemon homestead

 

While we don’t have hard data from Niantic about who is playing the game at the museum and in our neighborhoods, my team has seen that it’s mostly people from their mid-30s to elementary school-aged kids. These are people that many of us are trying to appeal more to, especially folks in their teens and 20s. We’ve decided to set a couple of Pokémon Lures (modules that attract Pokémon trainers to Pokéstops for a period of 30 minutes for a fee of 99¢) at our next First Sunday Picnic. These low key, relaxing events provide visitors with more opportunity than usual to explore our historic site on their own. It’s all about free choice. We offer a few activities at each picnic that visitors can choose to participate in, or just relax with family and friends. If we see players on site, our plan is to engage them in conversation. We want to know if we were on their radar before Pokémon Go, and encourage them to learn more about the museum and what we have to offer. “You think you’ve got a great 'collection'…check out ours!” We see this as an opportunity to have some one-on-one conversations that will provide us with more info about an audience we want to better understand.

 

Being responsive to current events and trends

History museums are working on becoming more nimble and less static. We’ve got a new reputation to cultivate, and not just when it comes to how we can use Pokémon Go! Museums that address complex social issues such as the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center quickly responded and have kept conversations going about the jarring recent events in Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas. Are they posting and talking about Pokémon Go? No. It’s not the right fit, but for a historic site like ours in a park-like setting, or a museum like the Hirshhorn who used social media to welcome Pokémon players featuring a painting from their collection, great! The first organization to comment on their post was the National Museum of Women in the Arts who said “Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden we love you! This is hilarious.”

 

pgopokemon hirshhorn

 

What is not hilarious, however, is hearing about all of the Pokémon Go being played at places like the National Holocaust Museum and the National September 11th Memorial and Museum. It’s disheartening that these institutions have to ask visitors not to play the game in their galleries out of respect for other visitors and the subjects being addressed. If only we could flip the switch on everyone who lacks good judgement... But we also should not assume that people who are engrossed in their smartphones at historic sites are tuning out.

NPR’s All Things Considered host Ari Shapiro asked tech correspondent Glen Weldon if Pokémon Go symbolized the downfall of civilization. After a good chuckle, Weldon answered “You know, I - we went to the Lincoln Memorial which is a Pokémon gym for a Facebook Live piece yesterday looking for people playing this game. We looked for 45 minutes to find somebody who was actually doing it because instead, they were reading about Abraham Lincoln. This is not the downfall of society. This is just another little bend in history.”

There are numerous ways that institutions of every size can use current trends and events to promote programs and collections. If you are in need of a rich topic to explore, just look to politics as we are ramping up for the presidential election. Do you have something in your collection about a specific election, or a letter from someone important to your institution’s story that states a strong or controversial opinion? Use it as an opportunity for discussion and debate. Do you have sheet music or recordings of campaign songs? Maybe you don’t have the time to write an in-depth blog post about them, but you can share an image of an item from your collection with a link to something like professor Brian Ward’s post about the “politics,” impact, and importance of campaign music in US elections.

Now back to Pokémon Go! It’s up to each organization as to how they react, respond, tap into, or ignore the phenomenon. It’s made for some great conversation around the office this week about the features of the game—but more importantly about visitor behavior, access to our site, the impact of crowd-sourced information, publicity, security, free-choice learning, and much more.

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pgojigglypuffAlexandra Rasic is the Director of Public Programs at the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum in the City of Industry, CA, and chair of AASLH’s Educators and Interpreters Committee. She worries that her six-year-old son will figure out how to unlatch the backyard gate and be caught wandering the streets of their neighborhood in search of Jigglypuff. 

 

 


The Heritage Society in Houston Receives Large Grant for Marketing

Award Encourages Visitors to Tour, Touch and Live Houston's Storied Past

Houston, TX - March 1, 2016 - Historians and preservation enthusiasts now have a chance to relive Houston's storied past thanks to Houston First Corporation for awarding $12,500 to The Heritage Society (AASLH members since 2013), Houston's only outdoor, interactive historic museum and park. This award will support marketing efforts to promote THS's first Historical Holiday Weekend in Houston that unveils the city's hidden gems and traditions. Through this fun-filled, cultural journey, guests will experience a restored collection of historically significant homes, churches reflecting religious architectural trends and more. This history-rich event within minutes to Houston's revived landmark pubs is scheduled for December 9 through December 11, 2016.

"Houston's tourist attractions remain a best kept secret," said Jorge Franz, Senior Vice President of Tourism for Visit Houston.  To overcome this, Houston First Corporation and Visit Houston have committed to grow tourism to Houston from 15 million to 20 million by 2018. Within the tourism sector, tourism partners are encouraged to collaborate and create group packages that will stimulate travel to Houston. "We're raising awareness that our diverse city, well-known for its thriving business market, also offers a cornucopia of cultural activities for the young to the young-at-heart year-round," he said.

“We are honored to be a recipient of the Houston First matching grant award," said Alice Collette, executive director for THS. "Every dollar allocated for this project will be matched, giving us a greater opportunity to stretch our marketing budget and extend our reach beyond Houston. In addition, working with our partners - Double Tree Hilton Hotel, Bayou Bend Collection and Garden, and Houston Historical Tours - give each of us an opportunity to leverage resources and offer guests exceptional value as they tour, touch and live another era during the holiday season."

During this inaugural year, Houston First Corporation and Visit Houston awarded $250,000 in grant funding to 14 non-profit organizations. The matching grant awards will be used to support each organization’s marketing efforts that improve the image of Houston as a premiere travel destination and help raise awareness of Houston's tourist attractions. This year’s projects were chosen for funding after a competitive selection and submission process.


About Houston First Corporation
Houston First Corporation operates the city's finest convention and arts facilities to position Houston as a world-class destination. In 2014, Houston First and Visit Houston aligned their operations to create a single clear voice representing the city. Houston First owns the Hilton Americas-Houston hotel and manages more than 10 city-owned buildings, plazas and parking facilities. Properties include the George R. Brown Convention Center, Miller Outdoor Theatre, Wortham Center and Jones Hall for the Performing Arts. For more information, visit HoustonFirst.com and VisitHouston.com.

About The Heritage Society
Founded in 1954, The Heritage Society (THS) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is dedicated to telling the stories of Houston’s diverse history through collections, exhibits, and educational programs.


Using the Holocaust Museum’s Citizen History Project to Engage Your Visitors

history unfolded

Our colleagues at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum have asked AASLH’s help in spreading the word about their remarkable history crowd-sourcing project History Unfolded: U.S. Newspapers and the Holocaust. This is something worth your attention. Outside of commemorations for wars and other major events, it is rare for a history project to have this much potential to reach so widely and deeply.

History Unfolded is a national “citizen history” project using local newspapers to understand the Holocaust by answering the following questions:

How much did Americans know about the Holocaust when it was happening? How did they respond?

holocaust museum

The project empowers individual history enthusiasts and students to research how their hometown newspapers covered specific events in the 1930s and 1940s related to the Nazi persecution of Jews and others. There is a unique opportunity here for state and local museums, historical societies, and historic sites and houses to support this international project as well. I want to personally encourage you to make the most out of this project. The project website is still in a beta testing stage, so you have two or three months to plan before the project is officially up and running.

Think of History Unfolded as both a marketing opportunity for your institution and a ready-made engagement tool for your visitors. The high-profile, national scope of this web-based initiative draws attention, and participating organizations can build on each other's successes. Meanwhile, citizen historians will be looking for help in scouring local newspapers. Members of your community will want to use your collections and call on your research expertise and advice to enhance their participation in the program. In return, your organization builds visitorship, demonstrates the expertise of your staff, reveals your community’s role in national/international events, and helps increase our overall understanding of the Holocaust.

Citizen historians research local newspapers for History Unfolded: US Newspapers and the Holocaust at the Martin Luther King Jr. Public Library. Washington, DC, 2015. -- Courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Your organization could even design special programming around the History Unfolded project. The DC Public Library, for example, hosted a research event for History Unfolded’s citizen historians in Washington, D.C., setting aside a meeting space one evening, a few computer terminals, and some staff to assist eager researchers in finding, analyzing, and uploading old newspaper articles into the Holocaust Museum’s database. Closing out the event was a discussion of what they had found as a group.

Another way to make the most of this project would be to connect a real-time research event with a lecture, an exhibit, or other program. Local university, college, or high school student and their faculty would be ready audiences. Instructors teaching European or World History who wonder how a U.S. public history institution, a public history approach, or state and local history can be integrated into their courses will find answers in History Unfolded. In addition, your institution might consider related programming that would involve genealogists or other avid groups of researchers. And why not an ongoing program that used History Unfolded to get students and lifelong learners in your area working together. How will you use this project to engage your visitors and community?

Read more about the History Unfolded project and get involved.


Why Content Goes Viral (Read This If You Have a Blog)

If you or your institution has a blog, the information below is very important to you. If you don't have a blog, but are considering starting one, the same applies to you as well.

I first encountered this on John Fea's blog, The Way of Improvement Leads Home (which itself is an endless source of material for me). The original post is here: Why Content Goes Viral: What Analyzing 100 Million Articles Taught Us.

going-viralFrom John's original post: Here are the "10 ingredients that will help increase the shareability of your content." (From the Huffington Post--click the link to see how Kagan develops each point with evidence from his study):

  1. Long form content gets more social shares than short form content.
  2. Having at least one image in your post leads to more Facebook shares.
  3. Having at least one image in your post leads to more Twitter shares.
  4. Invoke awe, laughter or amusement.  Appeal to people's narcissistic side.
  5. People love to share lists and infographs.
  6. If you make a list, make it with 10 items.
  7. People share content that looks trustworthy.
  8. Getting one "extra influencer" to share you article has a multiplier effect.
  9. Re-promote your old content.
  10. Tuesday is the best day to publish content.

(If you click through to John's post you can see he followed several of these tenets in his own post.)

Don't forget to read John's original post here or go to Noah Kagan's original article that inspired John's post.

Let us know what you think about these and add your own thoughts below.


Turn a Snowball Fight into Museum Members

I came across this posting on AASLH Award Winner Gore Place’s Facebook wall the other day and thought, what a perfect way to engage people during the winter season outside of holiday-interpretation programming.

gore place fb snowshoe outing

I poked around a little more on Gore Place’s Facebook page and website. Gore Place has a huge lawn and they get snow every year. In a way, they allow visitors to use the grounds as a Winter Wonderland. On weekends you can see families playing in the snow and the grounds are littered with snowman.

This is a great example of allowing your site to be a Third Place, the place after Home and Work where people socialize with the community. It’s a great, easy activity that allows people to have fun on the weekend. Most important, it creates lasting memories that lead to word-of-mouth advertising, which is still the number one reason people visit and become members of museums and history organizations.

If you have snow every year, use winter weather to your advantage and allow your visitors to play in your front yard.

Rebecca Price is Director of Membership Development, Marketing, and Communications at AASLH

gore place snowman on grounds


How the Frida Kahlo Exhibition Could Have Worked

If you aren’t aware of it, there is a Frida Kahlo show that made its American debut this year in San Diego. All objects, including all paintings, are reproductions. The curatorial motivation was to have Kahlo’s complete oeuvre and material effects in one place to view. Because obviously, you know that’s never ever going to happen in real life.


Since opening, the show has received criticism from critics and art historians. Here are the major citations:

  1. The marketing is dubious in that it is not obvious they are reproductions.
  2. The reproductions are not good quality.
  3. The object labels do not give credit to the artist who actually painted it.
  4. A reproduction offers no interpretive or instructional value.

I know, I know! That last one cuts to the soul of many history sites. And it got me thinking, as a marketer and a History person, this exhibition could have worked for us history folks.

See, marketing folk love it when something doesn’t work well, because it gives us a roadmap to success. We learn from our mistakes. So taking those considerations into mind, here is how it “could” have worked with each of the 4 points addressed:

  1. Change the title of the exhibition. As with object labels and webpages, most people don’t spend more than seconds reading. Use a verb that lets people know these are not originals. Words like “re-invented” or “re-imagined” are great. Remember, Frida Kahlo is an Icon. She’s different than other artists and people want to be near her presence, not necessarily her work.
  2. Use art majors from a college or university to recreate the works. It adds the component of community engagement and partnership that will strengthen the reproduction angle you are taking.
  3. Rewrite the object labels.
  4. I can’t.

What does this mean for history organizations? Is it time we claim back art as a product of culture with historical context? Can we crack the Art Exhibition Ivory Tower by doing shows of art reproductions and putting them into historical and cultural context? Or better, offer an art exhibition experience that allows visitors to create their own experience and meaning?

Please say yes! Steal these ideas.

Ps. The best part of this show? You can take pictures next to your favorite Frida painting.

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Rebecca Price is Director of Membership Development, Marketing, and Communications at AASLH

Disclaimer:  When I first learned of the exhibition, the article I read was transparent and I’ve known from the beginning this was a reproduction show. I also want to say that I had brief exchange with the Marketing Team that handles the publicity for the show, and there are people who love the show. So all criticism’s are in the eye of the beholder. All publicity I have seen for this show states that the curators’ intention was to share their “love of Frida Kahlo with others.” With that goal in mind, the exhibition can be seen as a success.