High Art: Public Relations Takes on New Meaning for Museums

Publication Date: 06/2010

Source: SO01 Public Relations Tactics
Product Code: 6C-061004
Organization/Author/Firm: Jeanette Drake, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA
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Jeanette Drake discusses how public relations helped the Michigan Museum of Art to successfully launch its expansion project in the wake of nearby GM’s financial woes.

To help counter more bleak economic news for the state, UMMA officials focused on the value of art and architecture. And the musuems’s media efforts worked. UMMA opened the 51,000-square-foot Frankel Family Wing on March 28 to record crowds, crowning reviews and relatively little controversy about the value of high art in a low economy.

The museum, of course, did its part to generate goodwill. It helped that private donors picked up the tab for more than 90 percent of the building costs, and UMMA’s long-standing policy of free admission is especially welcome now.

Hardship fuels uncertainty, but one thing is clear: Media relations in the art world is a distinct genre, in part because of the unique way it permeates our lives. Here, specialists from several arts organizations provide insights into their success.