‘How Is Hip-Hop Like the Microchip?’ Smithsonian Courts Youths Through New Ad Campaign

The Institution’s headquarters. (Courtesy Wikipedia)

A new ad campaign for the Smithsonian Institution’s 19 galleries and museums will ask the young, “What exactly does a bear do in the woods,” and other thoughtful questions, The New York Times reports.

From The Times:

Raising money is not a specific goal of the campaign, [the campaign’s marketing director] said, though she noted that broadening the institution’s base of support could make fund-raising easier in the long run. The Smithsonian is planning to embark on a seven-year campaign to raise about $1.5 billion for expanding research and maintaining its network of buildings.

“Thirty years ago it would have been beneath the dignity of a museum to advertise,” said Alan J. Friedman, a museum consultant and the former director of the New York Hall of Science. “But these days it’s rare to find a museum that isn’t thinking of branding.” Like the Smithsonian, most museums that undertake marketing campaigns are primarily looking to broaden their audience rather than raise money. “It’s not just about preserving the cultural patrimony but about passing it on, and a collection that isn’t attracting new people is not passing it on,” Mr. Friedman said.

Also asked in the campaign: “What has given us water from Mars and daggers from India?” The answer in that case, for me, is my Uncle Mike, before my parents said I wasn’t allowed to visit him anymore.