In This Issue
- President’s Message
- 2014 Annual Conference
- 2014 NAAMY Award Competition
- Curatorial News
- Marketing News
- News from Member Museums
By Jacky Frady
On behalf of the NAAM Board of Directors, I would like to wish all of you a successful and rewarding 2014, both professionally and personally.
Our Board had a very successful Strategic Planning meeting at The Henry Ford in November 2013. We spent two days under the direction of an exceptional facilitator, Jim Van Bochove, The Henry Ford’s director of workforce development.
In addition to reviewing the results of our Member Interest Survey, there were many exercises that led to a thorough examination of NAAM. These included, among others, conducting a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats); drafting an identity statement that captures the essence of what NAAM is; identifying what big questions face our organization, and determining the value-based criteria that will guide our future strategic decisions. This culminated in a revision of our Mission Statement and the development of goals and objectives, along with assignments and timeframes.
The following new Mission Statement has been added to the NAAM Website, along with our list of goals
The National Association of Automobile Museums is a professional center of excellence for automobile museums and affiliated organizations that supports, educates and encourages members to operate according to professional standards of the museum industry.
1. Support, educate and encourage member organizations to operate according to professional standards of the museum industry.
2. Provide relevant networking resources and opportunities for members.
3. Address NAAM’s administrative and operational needs.
4. Expand the association’s membership.
5. Enhance membership communications.
6. Create national awareness of NAAM as a primary resource for the automobile museum community.
7. Enhance public awareness of automobile museums as valuable cultural institutions.
We have made significant strides since NAAM was established in 1995. I had the privilege of serving as President from 2000-2002. At that time, my first goal was immediately implemented by the Board, which was to offer conferences on an annual basis beginning in 2000, rather than every two years. This was quickly followed by a document that identified goals for key areas of responsibilities (administration and management) and our various committees, and the Board embraced this new structured approach.
Before resuming the position of President again in 2011, our outgoing President Michael Spezia encouraged the Board to hold our first Strategic Planning meeting. It established a new level of professionalism in our leadership and set direction for the next three years. Our Board tackled the goals with enthusiasm and a renewed commitment to the success of NAAM.
In preparation of passing the presidential gavel to Terry Ernest in March 2014, and following Michael’s lead, it was important that we engage in Strategic Planning again in order to provide Terry and the Board with a solid foundation to guide NAAM.
With our new Strategic Plan, the dedication of our Board, and the support and involvement of our members, NAAM is positioned to continue on a highly successful path. We extend our appreciation to all of you for making a meaningful difference in our organization.
Early Bird Registration Deadline: February 17, 2014
Good News. The early bird conference registration fee for NAAM members is $400, reduced from $500 reported earlier. This reduction was made possible by a contribution from NAAM to help support our members. Also, we are extremely grateful for another generous sponsorship from Hagerty, The Official Insurance Provider of the National Association of Automobile Museums.
When and Where: The 2014 Annual conference will be held jointly between NAAM and the World Forum for Motor Museums at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California, March 24 – 28, 2014. The conference starts on Monday, the 24th, with a Welcome Reception from 5 – 6:30 p.m. and concludes on Friday night, the 28th, with the closing banquet and NAAMY Awards Ceremony. Please note the dates are the 24th – 28th (early notices stated the 25th – 29th). The conference is packed with excellent sessions and remarkable tours. It will be a great professional development and networking opportunity. Please see the attached conference brochure and registration form. View brochure here.
Theme: The theme is “Attracting New Audiences” and there will be three days of sessions with topics ranging in scope from reaching non-auto enthusiast visitors to vehicle conservation and preservation. In addition, two days of field trips will take us up the Pacific Coast Highway and along the streets and boulevards that once made up the beginning of historic Route 66.
Fee: The early-bird registration fee is $400 for NAAM members and deadline to take advantage of this savings is February 17, 2014. This fee will cover the cost of select meals, conference materials and handouts, daily shuttles to and from hotels, offsite tour transportation, and access to the Petersen Museum hospitality suite.
Opportunities: Because it will be a “joint” conference, participants from both NAAM and the World Forum will attend all of the same events at the same time. This will allow for maximum interaction among the delegates and provide a rare opportunity to liaison with your colleagues from around the world without having to leave the country!
Registration: Be sure to register early to take advantage of the early-bird discount and to help with planning. We hope to see everyone in California in March.
Deadline: January 21, 2014
Make Reservations ASAP: Hotel Room Blocks are now ready for reservations at the following hotels for the 2014 NAAM and World Forum Conference. Room blocks at each of the hotels expire on January 21, 2014, after which they will still honor the preferred rate, but cannot guarantee availability.
For your planning purposes, the conference starts on Monday, March 24, 2014, with a Welcome Reception from 5 – 6:30 p.m. and concludes on Friday evening, March 28, 2014, with the closing banquet and NAAMY Awards Ceremony.
The Wilshire Hotel
6317 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles CA 90048
The Orlando Hotel
8384 W. Third Street
Los Angeles, CA. 90048
Reservation Name/Code: “Auto”
Call: (323) 658-6600
Thompson Beverly Hills
9360 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills CA 90212
Reservation Name/Code: “World Forum 2014”
Call: (310) 273-1400
115 S Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Reservation Name/Code: “The Petersen”
Call: (323) 937-3930
Deadline: January 31, 2014
It time to start compiling your entries for the NAAMY Awards Competition. The deadline is January 31, 2014, so there is plenty of time to get your “winning” entries in the mail. The process is simple, plus you can enter as many categories as you like and you many submit more than one entry in a category. Please see the attached NAAMY Awards Call for Entries brochure or access the brochure on the NAAM website (www.naam.museum) under “About NAAM.”
Every one of our NAAM member museums is asked to enter to gain important recognition for your museum, which is a primary benefit of earning a NAAMY award. NAAMY’s increase your museum’s prestige not only with your Board and your members, but in your community. Also, they are a point of interest with donors and when applying for grants.
It’s the perfect, “positive” project to start off your year! Our new “Call for Entries” brochure and application were distributed via email to all NAAM members and is available on the NAAM website.
Apply for a 2014 Conference Scholarships
Deadline: February 7, 2014
Apply Now: Each year NAAM offers scholarships to the Annual Conference to help members grow professionally through informative sessions and networking opportunities. The scholarship program is designed for museums with limited financial resources (annual budgets less than $500,000) to pay for their staff to attend the conference.
When: You can apply anytime and we encourage you to do so to take advantage of this great benefit. The deadline is February 7, 2014.
How: Please visit the NAAM website for scholarship criteria, guidelines and the online application (www.naam.museum, select Conferences, then Conference Scholarships.)
Have you checked the NAAM Forum? It is an invaluable source of information. Is it time to write or update your museum’s Emergency Policy? If so, you can go to the Forum and review the Gilmore Car Museum’s Emergency Policy for helpful ideas. Would you like to use NAAM’s Collections Policy to revise your policies? It’s also readily available to you on the Forum. Are you looking for a roommate for the annual conference to reduce expenses? Just check the Forum. In addition, you can ask for advice from other museums about a particular subject. You can also answer questions posted by others and share your knowledge. Forum categories include Administration, Curatorial, NAAM Annual Conference, Marketing, Education Programs, Exhibits, Museum Store, Volunteers, Fundraising and Conservation.
Small Artifacts – Big Stories
Do people only come to automobile museums to see automobiles? Not necessarily. It is important to consider the wide variety of museum visitors, like those with an interest in exploring the deeper story behind the automobile industry, its struggles and successes, its impact on society and culture, and the changing face of the industry. We must present and interpret these stories using more than just an automobile. This is where our collections of small artifacts come into play in exhibit development.
The incredible vehicles we all have in our collections can be the basis for wonderful exhibits, but to create a comprehensive and contextual exhibit we need small artifacts to aid in the telling of the complex stories of the significance of the vehicles. This does not mean that we can just place a small artifact near the vehicle that is on display and call it a day, we have to make the connection, show the visitor the underlying story, make them see the bigger picture that the automobile and the automobile industry aren’t just about nostalgic memories of our first car or the car the family took on a road trip (although these are also important stories to capture and exhibit). I will use for example the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum Wing here at the Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS) and my experience with the collection over the last three years working with the institution.
When I first visited WRHS it was as a consultant to survey the Crawford Auto Aviation Collection and I was immediately struck by the fact that the only collections that were on display were the automobile and the aircraft. A few small artifacts, two aircraft engines, and a few early racing trophies were on display and with not much context as to why they were there. Cleveland has a very rich history in both the automobile and aviation industries, but the displays did not convey that story. I was hired on as curator shortly after my consulting project came to an end and in my first year, while the upper gallery space of the Crawford Wing was being completely renovated, I took stock of the small artifacts in the museum’s collection so they could be used in the new exhibit that would be installed in the renovated upper gallery.
During my surveying of the small artifacts I was astonished to find some truly significant pieces housed within the collection. One of the more shocking discoveries was the Hotel Ormond Challenge Cup, which was won by Alexander Winton (Cleveland manufacturer of the Winton automobile) in the first ever sanctioned races at Ormond-Daytona Beach in Florida. The race was as close as they come at the finish line; Winton was racing his Bullet No. 1 against H. T. Thomas in the Olds’ Pirate and claimed victory by only one-fifth of a second. The trophy as an artifact can tell numerous stories, the story of Ormond-Daytona Beach and its legacy as the “Birthplace of Speed,” the story of a riveting race between two legends in automobile racing, or even the beginning of racing at what is now one of the greatest races in NASCAR, but the story we tell with the trophy is the story of a Cleveland manufacturer who would do anything to prove that his vehicles were the best and who became, if not the greatest, one of the greatest American race car drivers in the early days of the automobile. The exhibit the Challenge Cup is part of allows our visitors to not only see two great Winton automobiles on display, but to also learn who Alexander Winton was and what he, and his company, meant to Cleveland and the automobile industry of the early 1900s.
From my research after locating the trophy in the collection, I strongly believe that the trophy may never have been on display since its acquisition, and if it was displayed it was only for a short period of time and without much attention. This trophy happens to be one of many examples within the collections here at WRHS of a small artifact with a huge story of the early American automobile industry attached to it that had been forgotten in storage.
This article isn’t written to say that all of our small artifacts should be on display all at one time, I am merely using it to help us all remember that even though we have impressive vehicles in our collections that are really great to see on exhibit, we also have small artifacts that have interesting stories and help our visitors see the bigger picture of why these cars are so important to our history and the impact automobiles have on our lives. So the next time you develop an exhibit, think about those small artifacts we all have locked away in storage and see how you can add a deeper story to the outstanding automobiles that are on exhibit.
Many non-profit organizations shy away from creating a marketing plan each year because it may seem too sales-centric or too focused on money rather than mission focused. But marketing, especially content marketing, is a tool that each non-profit must use. Marketing is a way to convince someone to visit your museum, attend your event, or purchase from your museum’s gift store.
Before you create a marketing plan for your museum, you need to evaluate a few things.
First, define your audience or audiences. Start generically with “our audience consists of fans of the specific automobile our museum” then elaborate. There are additional categories of people who visit your museum or who you want to visit your museum. For example, your additional categories of people might include people 35 years or younger, historians, photographers, artists, educational groups, bus groups, corporate donors, event sponsors, etc. The important factor in defining your audiences is to be honest in creating a list of every type of group your organization comes in contact with or wishes to come in contact with.
Next, now that you have an idea of whom you want to attract or who you will be reaching out to through marketing efforts – what are you going to say and how are you going to say it? Will your message be worded the same to every group or will you need to create marketing messages for each group? Mapping your message content and disseminating information is going to be a very important part of your marketing plan. Each organization will have different ways of getting information about its museum into the hands of each group. It might be through mass mailings, email, word of mouth, commercials on the radio or TV. The important part is to be aware that many mediums might be necessary to reach all of your audiences.
Now that you know who you want to reach, what you are going to say and how you are going to say it – when do you say it? Create a plan. Look at a calendar and decide if you are going to try to do a news release or public service announcement weekly or monthly. Will you do marketing on social media daily or weekly? How often will be you pay for advertising versus how can you get free mentions on the radio, TV or newspaper?
Having a plan of attack is the best scenario. For example, I like to decide what museum functions and events I will send news releases about. From there I look at sending an informative release three to four weeks in advance, and then follow up with a more detailed release the week preceding the event. However, news works different in every area, so you may need more time or less time. We share all of our news releases on Facebook, Twitter, and on our website. Try as many avenues as you can and you will find that some are better for certain groups than others.
Never be afraid to ask for feedback. Walking through your museum galleries and asking guests how they heard about you or why they chose to visit can provide invaluable information to you. Maybe a guest saw your Groupon six months ago, and although she didn’t purchase it, she remembered your museum and decided to visit. Another guest might have seen your billboard and decided to pull off while traveling across the country. There could be a guest that heard from a friend that your museum was a “must see” so he stopped in. You can learn from interaction with your guests that some of your marketing is working and some is not. For example, if you interviewed 1,000 visitors over a course of six months and not one person said that he or she decided to visit you because of seeing one of your brochures, it might be time to evaluate if you continue to pay for the production and distribution of brochures. Honest in-the-moment feedback from visitors is invaluable.
Finally, create a budget. You may have an annual budget for your museum marketing, but try to take it a step further and divide that budget into quarters for the year or even by project. Your main goal for 2014 might be to increase the number of visitors to your museum that are under the age of 35. A larger portion of your monetary budget might be placed into developing a marketing campaign geared toward that group of people. It might involve the development of a mobile app, advertisements in a periodical or on a radio station with demographics that fit your target audience. Budgets give you direction.
The main key to remember when creating a marketing plan for your organization is to be true to your museum and its mission. Doing so allows you to share information about your organization honestly and in a well-organized, content-laden manner. Do more than just market your museum – engage and inspire your visitors.
Gilmore Car Museum – Hickory Corners, Mich.
The Gilmore Car Museum, located just northeast of Kalamazoo, Mich. in Hickory Corners, has announced the “Gilmore Promise”. Effective immediately, the Museum—considered “America Signature Collection”— has introduced free admission for all K-12 school groups, special discounted family rates, and an extension of their Youth admission rate to include those up to 17 years of age. Inclusive by design, the “Gilmore Promise” represents the Gilmore Car Museum’s commitment to making learning exciting and accessible to everyone in the community, giving families and educators alike the ability to experience and visit the Museum, when they may not have had the means to before.
National Corvette Museum, Bowling Green, Ky.
Get lost in the GPS Adventures Maze and learn how to find your way using GPS! Running from January 13, 2014 through May 4, 2014, the National Corvette Museum presents their “GPS Adventures” exhibit, an interactive look into traditional and modern navigation. Kids and their families can explore the ways that GPS is used, find out where the technology is heading in the future, and discover geocaching, a family-friendly treasure hunting game in the great outdoors. The Museum is open daily, 8am-5pm CST and the exhibit is included with regular Museum admission. $10 adults, $5 kids age 6-16, student and group rates available. Info: 270-781-7973, http://www.corvettemuseum.org/exhibits/gps.shtml
Seal Cove Auto Museum – Seal Cove, Maine
On December 12, 2013, the Seal Cove Auto Museum participated in a Downton Abbey themed event in Portland, Maine for Maine Public Broadcasting Network donors. The Glasers, pictured, dressed according to theme and showed a 1928 Rolls-Royce Twenty Boat Tail, the company’s “small car” for the 1920s. Only the chassis and mechanical parts were actually made by Rolls-Royce; the body was made and fitted by a coachbuilder selected by the owner.