Thursday, May 22, 2008

May Lunch: Museum PR

So yesterday was our May lunch, An Inside Job: Holding the Communications Keys to a Museum.

We had two fabulous speakers: Jessica Hall, a producer at the newly reopened Newseum and Tim Clarke, Jr., a public affairs officer for the National Museum of Health and Medicine and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

A few highlights:
  • I got to hold a plastinated (real) human heart. Seriously cool. And a little creepy. Tim brought it in a plastic bag.

  • I learned that the Newseum had 11,000 visitors its first day open in the new location. (And I thought attendance of 250 at my campus' 20th anniversary event was a lot to handle!)

  • I learned a cool new response when people ask me what Twitter is: "Blogging for people with even shorter attention spans." (That courtesy of Jessica.)

  • The National Museum of Health and Medicine has what I think will be a pretty powerful exhibition opening this summer that includes the floor from one of the operating rooms in Iraq.

  • The National Museum of Health and Medicine opened in 1862 with a staff of one and three objects on display. (Their current collection includes 24 million items!)

We also talked shop: The challenges of promoting a museum that is located on a military base and has no dedicated funding stream on one hand vs. the challenges of promoting a topic that some people may perceive as boring on the other. Got some great insight from our guests.

Seriously, folks, I'm not in Museum PR, but I found this lunch really interesting. So next time you get your lunch invite, don't just think, "Oh, this isn't my field. I don't think I'll go." It's worth it to expand your horizons. You never know what you might learn... or what cool things you may get to hold. (Seriously, folks, a human heart!)

1 comment:

Tim Clarke, Jr. said...

Thanks again for the invite and the great conversation. I thought readers might like to see something more about the Iraq hospital exhibit set for later this summer: this Air Force news article offers you some great photos and background on the facility there.