In the months before and after the History Museum opened (May 23, 2009), newspaper readers, radio listeners, TV watchers, Web surfers and billboard hounds were greeted with this message: “History — Get Into It!”
That ad campaign helped produce block-long lines of people patiently waiting to physically get into it on opening weekend and has kept ’em coming back ever since. (Don’t worry: You no longer have to stand in a block-long line … in the rain … to get in.)
That campaign just won honors from the American Association of Museums, which gave it two first-place awards in its 2009 Museum Publications Design Competition. The first award was for the media kit (at left), basically a folder stuffed with enough information about all the construction that was going on behind the Palace of the Governors to keep reporters and others intrigued. (Many of those materials are still available here, on the Museum of New Mexico Media Center.)
The second first-placer was for the grand-opening’s marketing and public-relations materials. Gathered around the “History – Get Into It” theme, those materials mixed archival photography with modern-day people. (Go here to see the full campaign and, hey, vote for your favorite. Cowboys? Railroads? Hippies?)
Clearly, the “Get Into It” concept worked: More than 20,000 people lined Lincoln Avenue and packed into galleries during last year’s Memorial Day weekend to be part of the grand opening. As the museum’s first anniversary approaches, attendance has surpassed 150,000, more than doubling the annual attendance of the museum’s predecessor, the Palace of the Governors.
“From the beginning, our marketing team believed two things: First, that New Mexico’s history is not dead, boring or in the past; it is alive, fascinating and all around us. And second, that no one could tell the story better than the home team,” said Shelley Thompson, marketing and outreach director of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs’ Museum Resources Division. “Within our department existed the talent, the creative ability, and most important, the passion to do the job better than anyone else. It took a village in every sense, but a special shout-out goes to David Rohr, Natalie Baca, Cheryle Mitchell and Kate Nelson for excellence in publications, design, advertising and public relations.”
In case you’re wondering: AAM is the premier organization for more than 3,000 museums, including art, history, science, military and youth museums, as well as aquariums, zoos, botanical gardens, arboretums, historic sites and science and technology centers. Here’s a full list of winners. Now, get cracking on voting for your favorite “Get Into It” ad by clicking on comments, below.