Promotion out of demolition: SFMOMA

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I walk past San Francisco Museum of Modern Art nearly every work day on my way between my office and BART. The first Tuesday of every month, SFMOMA would be open for free to the public. I would sneak out early from work and check out the new exhibits on my way home. Notice I’m using the past tense here, because earlier this month SFMOMA closed its doors for three years.

The museum is replacing its building, which some have referred to as “The Lipstick Building” because of the slant-faced tube that extended skyward above the roof line. Most people associate a museum with display space, so how does a museum go without space for three years?

SFMOMA I think has done a brilliant job of turning challenge into opportunity. They’ve framed their mission as education + access, allowing them to engage the public even while lacking a building. They are placing exhibitions in other museums like the nearby and wonderful Contemporary Jewish Museum. They are standing sculptures in Crissy Field near the Golden Gate Bridge. In this campaign, the SFMOMA website takes on added importance, and now sports the tagline “We’ve temporarily moved…everywhere.”

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I think it’s savvy marketing during a challenging transition for a major public institution. They have changed theirs products, altered their placement, and increased their promotion in support of major organizational goals. I look forward to watching this campaign evolve on the web, on my to and from the office, and across San Francisco for the next three years.

How does one of your favorite public institutions excel at marketing?

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