23 Dec 2014

Museums in the Holiday Spirit

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Admittedly, when the holiday season rolls around often times museums are nowhere near the top of people’s lists of places to visit. Who can blame them? With the WalMarts and Best Buys of the world beckoning bargain hunters with “irresistible” sales, museums often move to the back-burner. Despite this, museums often look at this time of the year as primetime, to boost seasonal revenue and membership.

It seems that nationwide (and especially here in Buffalo), there is an organized push to support locally-owned businesses and artisans. This year, “small business Saturday” got good press as a local-minded follow-up to the retail mayhem that is Black Friday. Thousands of people poured into neighborhoods shops across the country and pumped extra revenue into their local economies. If the events are oriented to support local endeavors, there’s no reason that museums can’t jump on board and reap the benefits, too.

Through hosting special events, sales, and exhibits to attract their share of the seasonal crowd, museums get in on the both the holiday spirit and the holiday consumer spending that usually occurs between October and December. Whether that holiday is Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or all else, museums certainly have the opportunity to engage their public and allow them to experience their museums in a different way.

The Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site’s annual “Victorian Christmas” is a revenue powerhouse for the site, which draws over a thousand visitors to the Site in about 2 weeks. Various themed and Victorian luncheons, teas, and flea markets in the museum allow visitors to engage with the history of the site in a different way. Besides a Roosevelt-centric collection, the TR Site has a sizeable holding of Victorian-era clothing and artifacts. Victorian Christmas allows the Site to interpret history that is of the time period, but not necessarily the usual story of Theodore Roosevelt’s time in Buffalo.

On top of the shopping and Victorian stylings, the Site invites garden clubs from around Western New York to decorate the rooms in the museum (also referred to as the Wilcox Mansion), decking them out in period-appropriate holiday decorations, often hand-made from natural materials. By doing this, another audience (the garden clubs, their friends and families) is brought into the museum.

Here is some of the stellar work from the WNY Garden Clubs:IMG_2946 IMG_2950IMG_2954IMG_2955

If holiday-themed events aren’t enough to get you in the spirit, there are even entire museums dedicated to Christmas. Our friends at Museum Hack (@MuseumHack) tweeted this link to check out some of these festive insitutions: http://museumdiary.com/2014/12/05/top-5-museums-to-visit-at-christmas-time/

Are any museums in your area doing something special for the holidays? If you check their Facebook pages or social media feeds, they’ll have events and details of anything holiday-themed or special sales in their stores. Remember, museum stores are great places to score that last-minute gift, all while supporting your local museum and its mission.

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