External RelationsChapter five
Over the past five years, the Hood Museum of Art and Dartmouth worked together with Tod Williams and Billie Tsien to imagine new spaces, and with Abbott Miller and Pentagram to imagine a brand that represents both the Hood Museum's purpose and its new building. This past year saw the realization of that brand, coupled with a renewed and expanded vision for the museum's external relations strategy and focus. In addition to a comprehensive rebrand extending from the museum's façade to the launch of a newly designed and organized website and Hood Quarterly, the team engaged with media strategists Fitz and Co. to develop national and international press relationships and place stories online and in print about the museum and its reopening.
As part of the strategic plan informing (and informed by) its facility expansion and rebranding, the museum redrew its external relations map, complementing the existing public relations and events/programs coordinators with coordinators of campus engagement and visitor services. The campus engagement coordinator renews our commitment to the undergraduate student body writ large—and to the museum's purchase upon the "Dartmouth experience"—by offering students a familiar face both where they are on campus and when they visit us. In particular, this position reaches out to undergraduate advisors, leaders, and influencers; student affinity groups, clubs, and houses or teams; and potential campus allies in student engagement, such as admissions and alumni relations. The visitor services coordinator stewards the museum's front-of-house visitor-oriented operations, in concert with eight full-time visitor service guides.
Together, these external relations efforts are geared toward one aim: to invite our visitors, wherever they may be, to engage with the museum and its extraordinary collections in ways that are meaningful to them. The rest of this section reviews the publications, public relations, and visitor services highlights from the past year.
The Hood Downtown Exhibition Space catalogue was published in fall 2018 to commemorate the two-year-long gallery project on Main Street in Hanover. Also published in the fall was the museum's first exhibition e-publication, the post-production digital-first volume titled Resonant Spaces: Sound Art at Dartmouth, and a Spanish-language version of the enormously popular Orozco mural brochure titled Orozco at Dartmouth: The Epic of American Civilization. Prior to and in preparation for the reopening, the publications team produced the 2018 fall Hood Quarterly and the 2019 winter Hood Quarterly (reopening issue), 2019 Museum Guide brochure, a special Family Guide for the reopening, updates and reprints of eight of the Hood's A Closer Look brochures, and the A Space for Dialogue 92 exhibition booklet for Consent: Complicating Agency in Photography. After the reopening, the team produced the 2019 spring–summer Hood Quarterly and worked on the 2019 fall Hood Quarterly (delivered in August). Brochures for A Space for Dialogue exhibitions 93–97 were also published, and work began on the 2020 slate of exhibition catalogues. Lastly, the 250-page museum handbook and highlights compendium The Hood Now: Art and Inquiry at Dartmouth moved from preparation through design and into production, to deliver in October 2019.
Hood Downtown Exhibition Space (catalogue)
Resonant Spaces: Sound Art at Dartmouth (e-publication)
Orozco at Dartmouth (Spanish-language brochure)
2019 Museum Guide (brochure)
Eight updated and reprinted A Closer Look guides (brochures)
2019 Family Guide (reopening edition of this brochure series)
The Assyrian Reliefs at the Hood Museum of Art (brochure, updated and reprinted)
A Space for Dialogue #92 (exhibition booklet)
A Space for Dialogue #93 (exhibition brochure)
A Space for Dialogue #94 (exhibition brochure)
A Space for Dialogue #95 (exhibition brochure)
A Space for Dialogue #96 (exhibition brochure)
2019 Fall Hood Quarterly
2019 Winter Hood Quarterly (reopening issue)
2019 Spring–Summer Hood Quarterly (combined issue)
Public Relations: Print, Online, and Social Media
Fitz and Co. continued to place stories in high-profile media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Boston Globe, Apollo Magazine. Arguably the most exciting PR opportunity in the past year was the Hood's segment on WGBH Boston's "Open Studio with Jared Bowen," which originally aired on March 29, 2019. The piece focused on the museum's expansion and featured John R. Stomberg, the Virginia Rice Kelsey 1961s Director, and Deputy Director Juliette Bianco. On May 27, 2019, PBS News Hour nationally syndicated the segment.
The reopening's advertising plan was extensive. Print ads were placed in Art New England, Artscope, Here in Hanover, Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, Art in America, Valley News, Vermont Standard, The Dartmouth, Seven Days, Concord Monitor, Union Leader, Portland Herald, and the Burlington Free Press. We also implemented far-reaching digital ad campaigns for the first time. We ran digital advertisements on the following websites: Hyperallergic, New Hampshire Public Radio, The Arts Fuse, ArtNews, Portland Herald, Concord Monitor, Union Leader, and Art New England. Our digital advertising strategy extended to our social media channels. We ran two different ad sets on Facebook and boosted well-performing posts and the event listing. Our digital marketing strategy also encompassed email marketing. The event was listed in the two contiguous Artscope email blasts sent prior to the reopening and was promoted through the Hood Museum's bulk email lists as well. The museum underwrote radio spots on New Hampshire Public Radio, Vermont Public Radio, and Maine Public Radio. Radio spots on The Point FM, sponsored by the White River Junction Frame Shop, advertising the celebration. These aired continuously during the three months leading up to the reopening.
The team has also been strategically developing print and digital content to support and encourage campus engagement with objects, exhibitions, and programs, and to cultivate existing and new student, faculty, and staff engagement. This content included:
- An article in the fall 2018 Quarterly outlining the history of Dartmouth's collections
- An article in the winter 2019 Quarterly introducing the opening installation
- Reorganizing the "College Students" section of the website
- Developing a one-page "Ways to Get Involved" handout for students
- Creating print and digital ads for The Dartmouth
- Designing flyers and event posters to be posted around campus
In June, Campus Engagement Coordinator Isadora Italia moderated and presented on a panel titled "Becoming a Part of Campus Conversations: Reaching Out to Bring Students In" at the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries annual conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with colleagues from the Harvard Art Museums and the Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University.
A main focus of the Hood Museum's social media strategy in fiscal year 2018–19 was to reach student audiences more consistently. Having secured a seat for the Hood Museum on Dartmouth's social media management software system, Sprout Social, the staff was able to aggregate all social media accounts into one easy-to-use dashboard, simplifying and improving the museum's social media efforts. The new tool enabled effective collaboration on social media posts across the Hood's various channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn), leading to more consistent content creation and publishing. Additional highlights included the launch of the Hood Museum's LinkedIn page, participation in the international social media campaign #5womenartists, the increased recording and sharing of time-lapse footage featuring gallery installations, and the increased use of Instagram stories.
As a result of these efforts, the Hood Museum's followers on Facebook and Instagram have increased significantly:
Facebook 2,590 3,655
Twitter 4,008 4,014
Instagram 1,727 2,789
LinkedIn 60 106
Use of the Hood Museum of Art website, newly branded and relaunched in fall 2018, increased dramatically this year as well. The total number of page views increased by 45 percent, with new website users increasing by 39 percent.
In the last year, the composition of the visitor services team underwent a major transition from five security guards to eight highly engaged visitor services guides. As frontline communicators, these individuals welcomed over 40,000 visits to the Hood Museum galleries and helped countless students, community members, and other visitors have meaningful, transformational encounters with the collection. The visitor services area now employs digital platforms to keep demographics and share information, and the guides' appearance and conduct are shaped to invite engagement at whatever level the visitor desires. Gone are the days of itchy wool blazers and large walkie talkies, and, most importantly, of watching but seldom speaking. The guides are now encouraged to let the students and guests know that we are here for them.
To make sure the guides are equipped with the tools and information needed to engage in meaningful conversation with our visitors, they started training sessions with curators and attended docent training with the education staff. To enhance their institutional knowledge, they have enjoyed a direct liaison to the external relations area in the form of the visitor services coordinator, and they have started lending a hand in the work of other areas in the museum, including external relations (publications inventory and website updates), registration (public art checks, file labeling, data entry), education (prepping art-making materials and maintaining studio conditions), and curatorial (courier delivery). They also spent a lot of project time escorting construction workers throughout the building, allowing them to develop a different perspective on the facility that is valuable in their everyday responsibilities.