We have a lot to offer at the IMA: permanent galleries, Lilly House, 152 acres of gardens and grounds, exhibitions, public programs, web projects, and community outreach. After a while, it’s easy to take for granted all of the ways that the museum serves its mission. Every week I write ads, print pieces, Facebook updates, and blogs that focus on the opportunities for visitors at the IMA, but I often don’t take advantage of them myself.
Just 30 seconds from where I sit, I have an amazingly impressive collection of the world’s art, and I rarely take the time to see it. I’m not sure if it’s my hectic schedule or laziness, but it’s shameful to me how little time I spend in the galleries or at the IMA’s public programs. As a marketer, I spend my day encouraging others to experience the IMA, but I wouldn’t be doing my job well unless I do it myself. Therefore, I have recently decided to attend two public programs each month and spend at least 30 minutes in the galleries each week. It’s still not enough, but it’s a start.
As part of my personal mission to experience the museum, a week ago Sunday, I attended an event at The Toby. On November 1, the IMA hosted the string quartet Osso, the singer-songwriter DM Stith as well as Sufjan Stevens and his film, The BQE. The eclectic event entertained a sold-out crowd of 600. As I sat in the balcony of the theater next to a 16-year-old hipster in buffalo check plaid, skinny jeans and black framed glasses, my heart swelled. He and his fellow high school friends were completely engaged in the experience. They were giddy with delight. (In a cool, hipster sort of way, of course.)
I loved the event, because Osso was the most bad@ss string quartet that I’ve ever seen perform. I loved the event, because DM Stith has a hauntingly gorgeous voice. I loved the event because The BQE was a devastatingly beautiful film. But, most of all, I loved the event because everyone else loved the event.
As a marketer, I often focus on the cause. “What will make a person attend the Museum?” But not often enough do I focus on the effect. “What happens when a person attends the Museum?” Attending public programs, walking through the galleries, and experiencing the IMA as a visitor are all critical to doing my job well. By taking time to enjoy the mission of what I do, I am better able to serve it.
So, with all that said, I have a challenge to my colleagues in the field – not just marketers, but registrars, curators, designers, IT specialists, and accountants. EXPERIENCE YOUR MUSEUM. Don’t take for granted that you work at an amazing place. Be amazed by the place at which you work.
It’s hard, I know. We have all have priorities that pull us away, but I implore you to take the time. For just a little while each week, stop working and start experiencing. I guarantee you, it’s worth it – and I’m not just saying that because I work in marketing.