Category: Case Studies

Boot Camp Alum Update: DeTOUR Takeover for Black History Month

We love seeing how our Boot Camp alums are taking what they learned during their time with us and using what they learned to do amazing things back at their own museums.

Shawn leading a new tour celebrating Black History Month at the Memorial Art Gallery.

Jessica Gasbarre, a former Boot Camp attendee, was inspired by her new skills and created the DeTOUR at the University of Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery (MAG) where she works as the Membership and Engagement Specialist.

The DeTOUR happens on the third Thursday of each month and is an exclusive themed tour that’s both engaging and entertaining.

These tours focus on everything from the crazy personal lives of artists to sharing the inspiration and method to their madness or to lesser known facts about some of more obscure works in the collection. Each tour includes activities, personal connections, and of course mind-blowing stories!

But with February being Black History Month, Jessica wanted to use the opportunity to collaborate with the African American community in Rochester. She invited Shawn Dunwoody, a local artist, to take over the tour.

“Shawn is a local creative in the Rochester community; he is an artist, consultant, and a creative force for change. I told the group that I very much wanted to do a DeTOUR focused on Black History Month, but as a white girl, I felt that it wasn’t my place; I felt Shawn would do the DeTOUR justice. Shawn joked that he was asked because he’s the only African American I know, the group laughed, I started sweating, and the DeTOUR began.” – Jessica Gasbarre

Shawn’s tour focused on celebrating the incredible history of Black and African-American Art at MAG.

Shawn shaped his tour with storytelling, community building, and sharing the tradition of the Black and African American art in MAG’s collection. He helped uncover some secret stories behind artists’ pasts, emphasized the impact of the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights Movement, and celebrated the awesome accomplishments of modern and historical Blacks in the art world and beyond.

As traditional African drums played in the background courtesy of Shawn’s phone, he brought the group into Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas Gallery, and focused on the beginning of Black art, emphasizing the importance of knowing one’s roots.

Throughout the tour, Shawn repeated the motifs of color, shape, and rhythm, applying them to artists in the collection such as Kehinde Wiley, Mickalene Thomas, Alison Saar, Nick Cave, and Sam Gilliam. As Shawn explained how the present builds off the past, he had the group build Lego sculptures in the museum.

The new tours incorporate activities and interaction among guests and the art.

For the grand finale of the tour, Shawn led everyone into a private activity room in the museum and one of MAG’s awesome curators showcased a Romare Bearden piece she brought out of storage for the DeTOUR. Shawn spoke about the history of collage and related it back to color, shape, and rhythm. The tour ended with guests creating their own collage images as music played and laughter ensued.

“What a crazy night. Thank you to everyone that came out. Many rules were broken but it was all for the love of art.” – Shawn Dunwoody

The best part? DeTOUR Takeover continued on for Women’s History Month! They celebrated women in MAG’s collection who made MAG-nificent museums, painted perfect portraits, altered our perceptions of feminism in the art world and who gave women the rights of agency.

If you’re in Rochester, New York, be sure to check out the DeTOUR series and check their full offering of programs.

We’re hosting more Boot Camps in 2017! Spots are limited – reserve yours now.

How To Turn New Visitors Into Lifelong Fans Of Your Museum: MODA Case Study

The Museum of Design Atlanta is a super cool place. There’s nothing quite like it nearby, as MODA is the only museum in its region focused on design.

But there was one area museum staff wanted to improve on when it came to the visitor experience. Staff didn’t want to just bring more people through their doors; they wanted to better engage them from the moment they arrived. The museum wanted visitors to have such an incredible experience, that they’d become lifelong visitors of the collection.

Zak with MODA staff.

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The Importance of Storytelling to Engage Millennials (Case Study: Hancock Shaker Village)

Known as “The City of Peace,” Hancock Shaker Village is a living Shaker history museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

This Village — set on 750 acres with 20 authentic Shaker buildings —  preserves its rich history for generations to come with tours; live demonstrations of Shaker traditions; costumed interpreters; and a gallery showcasing a rotation of Shaker furniture, tools, and artifacts.

But with a community so richly steeped in tradition, how do you attract and engage younger audiences?

Hancock Shaker Village reached out to Museum Hack to find out how we might be able to help them formulate ideas and create programming for millennials — and create opportunity for engagement staff from different institutions in the Berkshire area to work together in the process!

Hancock Shaker Village | source

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How the National Park Service Inspires & Provokes their Visitors

The National Park Service oversees hundreds of parks, monuments and historic sites across the United States. With over 20,000 employees across the country, and one of the most developed and documented interpretive training programs out there, they are a formidable force in the cultural experience world. But they were still looking for new ways of inspiring visitors.

We provided that initial spark with our 3-day Audience Engagement boot camp. A Park Service employee attended and left feeling so inspired he later turned to Museum Hack to help inspire his colleagues, too.

The NPS wanted help to breathe new life into the historic Arlington House, memorial and former home of Robert E. Lee. Management at NPS were looking to achieve several goals:

  • to reinvigorate the rangers,
  • to help them think outside their traditional interpretive means,
  • and to encourage them to bring their own personalities and passion to visitors of the almost 200-year-old house.

To make these goals into reality, we had the unique opportunity to spend not one, but two days at Arlington House, where collaboration was truly the name of the game.

Arlington House was once home to Confederate General Robert E. Lee
Arlington House was once home to Confederate General Robert E. Lee

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How To Look At Your Museum In New Ways To Redesign Guest Engagement (Corning Museum of Glass Case Study)

The Corning Museum of Glass is exactly what it sounds like – an awesome museum in New York dedicated solely to the amazing world of glass! The museum is home to more than 40,000 different objects focused on glass and glassmaking dating back to ancient Egypt to modern times.

But even with this specialized focus and cool collection, staff at Corning wanted to take some time and refocus on the visitor experience and guest engagement at the museum.

They gave Museum Hack a call to see how we might be able to help boost their already amazing collections.

Part of the Museum Hack team exploring Corning's collections.
Part of the Museum Hack team exploring Corning’s collections.

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How A Targeted Facebook Ad Campaign Led To 6X The Facebook Page Likes For The Illinois State Museum

Many museums already face a bit of an uphill climb when it comes to attracting and engaging new audiences. When state budget constraints closed the Illinois State Museum for nine months, museum officials knew they needed some fresh new ideas to regenerate interest in the museum once its doors were reopened.

The museum is home to collections and exhibits that focus on the natural, cultural, and artistic history of the state. Prior to the shutdown, the museum had run a string of successful special event Saturdays. After reopening, staff was eager to revive the series that had been a long-time staple of their community in Springfield, Illinois.

A bird soars through the air.

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Reimagining the Adult Museum Experience (Parks Canada Bellevue House Case Study)

Bellevue House has a rich history in Kingston, Ontario, and it’s one of the area’s top tourist destinations. A National Historic Site of Canada now owned by Parks Canada, Bellevue House commemorates Sir John Macdonald as the nation’s first Prime Minister and is one of the most famous Canadian examples of Italian Villa architecture.

Bellevue House is super popular among visitors to Kingston. Guests can enjoy videos, take pictures with a life-size cutout of Sir John, and explore the house where the nation’s first prime minister once lived during the 1800s.

But even though the House is considered a must-see in Kingston, staff knew they had an opportunity to take the guest experience to the next level. They wanted to completely reimagine adult engagement at the historic site and knew that our style of audience development would work well for them.

Earlier this fall, we sent two VIP staff members to Canada to spend four nights in Kingston as they helped Bellevue House staff reinvent the adult museum experience at this awesome historic site.


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How to Energize and Empower Staff with Creativity (Case Study: 21c Museum Hotel)

As we move further into the 21st century, museums are getting more creative about their programs and spaces.  But where is the most effective place to begin your museum’s creative journey?

With your staff!  Museum staff are the key to infusing new life into your museum at all levels.  By investing in your staff, you create an open culture that empowers staff to work better together when facing the unique challenges of museums today.

21c Museum Hotel is a museum fit for the new millennium.  As a combination hotel and art museum, their spaces abound with creative energy.  Yet 21c Museum Hotel was facing a dilemma: they wanted to get their staff energized and thinking creatively in order to bring new programming and fresh marketing to their expanding chain of hotel-museums.   

21c Museum Hotel staff during Museum Hack workshop
21c Museum Hotel staff

The solution? They called Museum Hack to lead a custom workshop on audience engagement as the big finale to their staff retreat.  We packed our bags and headed to Louisville, Kentucky, to empower 21c Museum Hotel staff with ideas to get their creative juices flowing.

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Fun Finance Facts: Engaging Young Professionals at the Museum of American Finance

Many museums are looking for effective ways to engage the next generation of museum patrons.  This generation is different because they want museum experiences that are made to feel like VIP adventures.  So how can museums with niche collections attract and engage young professionals?

It’s a challenge that the Museum of American Finance faces.  As the United States’s only independent public museum dedicated to American finance and financial history, the Museum of American Finance’s collections feature awesome stories not found anywhere else.  Yet such a specific collection also poses a challenge to getting new audiences in the door. 

Museum of American Finance staff knew they wanted to attract young professionals, particularly from the New York City financial sector, and showcase their collections in a way that would establish this new audience as regular visitors and potential patrons.  They called Museum Hack to produce and market a VIP experience that would engage young professionals and showcase the amazing stories in their collections.

Zak Martellucci and Anna at the Museum of American Finance

In mid-July 2016, we produced the Museum Hack: Wall Street Edition experience.  This one-night museum adventure was full of mind-blowing finance facts, awesome missions, and the juicy gossip of America’s banking system and its founding father, told in Museum Hack’s signature style.

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“An incredible experience!”: Full Report from Our July 2016 Boot Camp

Museum Hack specializes in professional development that helps museum professionals not only better engage with visitors, but also re-discover the joy and adventure that they are surrounded by every single day in their museums.  We help museum professionals develop skills that foster new, deeper relationships with visitors and celebrate the true heart of every museum: its staff and stories.

As crafters of unforgettable museum experiences, we know that people come first.  Our Boot Camps invite museum professionals to not only discover what visitors will love, but also what they as guides and curators love.  We empower professionals with the skills they need to turn their favorite objects and spaces into awesome stories that showcase their personal passion and their museum’s unique collections.  By encouraging professionals to embrace passion and fun, we open the doors for staff to become fully invested in their institutions and connect with their audience in truly human ways.

Diana Montano during Audience Engagement Boot Camp 2016
Fearless facilitator, Diana Montano, is clearly very ready for our new crop of Boot Campers!

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