How The International Museum of World War II Ensures We Remember the Sacrifices of Those Who Served in WWII

Dad's return

Welcoming my father back from a mission in the early 1990s.

This Memorial Day, we must remember the sacrifices our military service members and their families have made both at home and abroad. As a Navy brat, I was taught by my father to always remember the 7th of December to honor the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, which directly led to the formation of the U.S. Naval Construction Battalions also known as the “Seabees,” the area of the Navy in which my father served. Because of this, I am grateful for the opportunity to work with The International Museum of World War II in Natick, Massachusetts to support its mission to educate visitors about the causes and consequences of war, and to convey that war is personal and complex.

Formerly known as The Museum of World War II, The International Museum of World War II recently changed its name to better reflect its unique perspective and match the breadth and depth of its collection. The new name encapsulates the reach of the Museum’s extensive and rare collection with more than 500,000 artifacts, spanning the entire world at war—all of the countries, the cultures, the home fronts and battlefronts, the ordinary soldiers, leaders and those caught up in the dislocations of war.

As part of Greenough’s partnership with the Museum and through strategic media outreach, we have helped to raise its profile from a little-known entity to an internationally-recognized institution. One of the most memorable campaigns to date was our work to promote the Museum’s exhibit honoring the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor: Why We Still Remember featured more than 100 artifacts documenting the surprise attack and United States’ response and provided a rare glimpse into Japanese atmosphere leading up to attack. Chronicling what transpired before, during and after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the exhibition presented the first message from Pearl Harbor to “All U.S. Navy Ships present Hawaiian area” announcing the attack in the first moments, pieces of a Japanese plane that was shot down, the first printed declaration of war by Japan on the United States, and artifacts depicting the overwhelming sense of American patriotism that emerged as a result of the attack.

Through our tailored, national media campaign the Museum was featured in a total of 23 articles with more than 402 pickups spanning national, local, art and history trade publications. The coverage included a stunning review in the Wall Street Journal and included features in TIME, The Art Newspaper and the Associated Press on the rare artifacts on display in the exhibition. Plus, USA Today named the presentation one of the “12 best museum exhibits to see this fall.”

The media coverage is a testament to the significant and thought-provoking work the Museum carries out. Beyond the Pearl Harbor exhibition, we have had the opportunity to pitch numerous stories on the Museum’s robust educational initiatives, exceptional acquisitions, awarded grants and profiles of founder Kenneth W. Rendell, as well as other temporary exhibitions. This coverage has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Reuters and the Boston Globe, among others.

The International Museum of World War II is a remarkable institution that reminds visitors of the human aspect of war. Military brat or not, if you’re in the Greater Boston area, I invite you to schedule a visit to the Museum to be reminded of the sacrifices of those who have served our country.

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Finding a diamond in the rough

David Friend Hall Opening

How my team at Greenough helped shape and tell the story of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History’s 150th anniversary

On the occasion of its 150th anniversary, the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History sought to do two things: 1) To change the perception that natural history museums have remained unchanged and stuck in the past since their founding; and 2) To present itself as the preeminent museum for gems and minerals with the opening of a new, state-of-the-art gem and mineral gallery, David Friend Hall.

Greenough saw this as a perfect opportunity to increase institutional awareness and reposition the organization as an innovative, forward-thinking natural history museum. We developed a long-lead, national media strategy to enhance the institution’s reputation, increase visibility, and reframe the Museum to shift public perception.

To do this, we conducted in-depth research in the natural history museum field and held input meetings with Peabody leadership to gain a better understanding of their vision and goals. We then developed a comprehensive media strategy founded on proactive, long-lead outreach to priority media to meet the Peabody’s objectives.

We began executing this strategy by crafting a core set of key messages that conveyed the Peabody’s vision for the sesquicentennial and beyond, and the importance of David Friend Hall to the Peabody, the natural history museum and science community, and the greater public. We then created an inventory of possible story angles to reach the broadest audiences across varying outlets such as science, mineral and gem, art, museum, philanthropy and lifestyle trades as well as national and local cultural coverage.

DSC_0451Once those initial pieces were in place, Greenough conducted a national media campaign, securing more than 75 pieces of coverage spanning national top tier daily news outlets, local Connecticut publications, science and mineral trades, and philanthropy and cultural trade publications. The Wall Street Journal published a stunning review of the institution, USA Today named David Friend Hall one of the “12 best U.S. museum exhibits to see this fall,Rock & Gem featured David Friend Hall as the cover story of the October issue, and Connecticut Magazine developed a 2,000-word, 9-page spread, feature article. Our resulting coverage had the potential to reach a print circulation of more than 2.1 million readers, and our online coverage had the potential to garner a total of nearly 153 million monthly unique impressions.

So we were able to increase institutional awareness and raise visibility, but did we shift perceptions and highlight the Peabody’s stellar collection? The answer is yes. In each piece of coverage, each author makes a note of the institution’s innovations and underscores its relevancy now more than ever.

For example, Wall Street Journal critic at large, Ed Rothstein wrote,

“The museum is remarkably free of commercial clamor and condescension, and free too of the political posturing that can make it feel as if curators were wagging fingers through display cases. The Peabody re-establishes the natural history museum as the domain of impassioned collectors and teachers.”

As a result of this strategic public relations campaign, the Peabody has seen a steady and consistent increase in the number of visitors to the Museum. During the opening month, attendance increased 45% from the previous October, and November and December continued with a 17% and 10% increase, respectively.

We are pleased to see our efforts directly impact attendance numbers and shape the public’s perception of the Peabody. And, as an added bonus, Greenough was awarded honorable mention for the 2017 PR News Nonprofit PR Awards.

So, just as a diamond needs to be polished to find its inherent brilliance, so too, do institutions need to revamp their messaging and have a strong, strategic PR program to ensure they stand out and shine.

This article first appeared on the Greenough blog on March 22, 2017. 

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The Evolving Print Edition: How consumer habits are impacting major publications

screenshot-of-wsj-coverageReviews of my clients, the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History and the Museum of World War II, appeared side-by-side in the Wall Street Journal in December 2016. 

To conform to shifting reader habits and the quickening news cycle, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have both recently reorganized their publishing formats—most notably impacting the arts sections—and the Boston Globe is undergoing an audit of its editorial department.

The New York Times cut its local tri-state culture coverage in August and redesigned its arts section in December, concentrating on consumer-focused pieces such as “Show Us Your Wall” and cutting the weekly column, “Inside Art,” which had served as a “must-read” for everyone in the art market.

The Wall Street Journal launched a new print format with fewer sections in November. The publication introduced a new “Business & Finance” section which combined “Business & Tech” and “Money & Investing” and a new “Life & Arts” section which combined “Personal Journal” and “Arena.” Like the Times, the Journal also reduced its regional “Greater New York” coverage.

The Boston Globe is rethinking how the editorial department should function with today’s shortened news cycle. Rather than adhering to the deadlines demanded by the print schedule, the Globe will publish stories online throughout the day and night. To meet this end, they are creating an “Express Desk” to post breaking news and jump on trending stories.

The overarching result of these changes is reduced print coverage.

With limited space to work with, editors must decide which stories are selected for print. And not all make the cut. For example, although a recent review of the Museum of World War II’s anti-Semitism exhibition was featured in full in the Wall Street Journal’s print edition, a WSJ article on recreational marijuana in the workplace featuring Mirick O’Connell was shortened for print. In some cases, a story slated for publication gets bumped for a breaking news story, which was the case with a WSJ review of the Yale Peabody Museum when a Christie’s executive announced he was stepping down the same day. Or it may be delegated as an online only story, such as the WSJ review of the Museum of World War II’s exhibition on Pearl Harbor, which was never slated for the print edition in the first place.

In the digital age, where social media reigns, the idea that a story may only be published online is not necessarily a negative. It simply reflects our shifting news consumption habits.

With online stories, we can share content with a broader audience and bolster the reach of the coverage. As we have seen with the rise of Buzzfeed, the ability to share and “like” has a tangible, measurable and significant impact on the reach of digital media coverage.

Additionally, we are also in a golden age of video and audio reports shared through digital platforms.  Boston’s own NPR station, WBUR, continues to see strong support from its listeners and donors to expand its offerings and to report through new digital platforms. This year alone, WBUR launched a new website and mobile app which focus on the user experience of listening. It also launched the new education vertical, Edify, and received a $3 million grant from the Barr Foundation to bolster its arts and culture reporting, The ARTery. This is just one example of the kind of shift and dispersion occurring in the media landscape.

As we continue to witness the evolution of media, it’s important to understand the new limitations in print coverage, to manage the expectations of our clients and to be prepared to capitalize on the next trend in media.

This article first appeared on the Greenough blog on January 17, 2017. 

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The Woman Who Says No: Françoise Gilot on her life with and without Picasso by Malte Herwig

Image result for the woman who says no

While reflecting on the past year, I received The Woman Who Says No: Françoise Gilot on her life with and without Picasso by Malte Herwig from a dear friend of mine. I immediately read the book and found much of what the artist said to ring true. I found many shared philosophies between Gilot and my artist friends, which reaffirmed what I learned and accomplished in New York City and gave me renewed motivation for the new year.

The Woman Who Says No reads like an extended interview where there is a process of discovery made by the author through first-hand accounts of his meetings, analysis of the artist’s remarkable life, and insight into her positive yet pragmatic outlook on life. The book reveals the wisdom Gilot has earned throughout her lifetime.

Image result for the woman who says no

First off, she recommends being open and pushing oneself. Gilot states, “If you want to really live, you must risk living on the edge; otherwise, life isn’t worth it. When you open yourself to risk, you will also experience bad things, but mostly you will learn a lot and live and understand more and more. Most importantly, you will not be bored. The very worst thing is to be bored.”

Gilot believes that nothing can be accomplished without discipline. “Discipline is essential. Without it, even intuition won’t help you. And you must practice. Always practice.” She also stresses that, “We must work with our skills as we work with our mistakes.”

With that discipline, Gilot notes that there comes an understanding that one must not be too hard on oneself. “You shouldn’t expect too much of yourself. Don’t begin with an enormous canvas when you are just starting to paint.”

Finally, Gilot expresses the need for a sense of self and the search for the truth. “I am only interested in people who are searching for the truth. Most things in life are like a stage set, an illusion behind which hides another and another and so on. The vast majority of people gave up on the search for truth long ago. There are very few who really want to glimpse behind the façade and it all comes down to those people. Truth is always what is most important to me, even if it is unpleasant.”

I found inspiration in what Gilot had to say but, I was most struck by the way in which Gilot spoke about her life. She was very centered, never bitter, and passionate about her art, her past, and her future. I enjoyed learning about her experiences and the advice she had to offer. I also love how she hasn’t conformed to what people would expect of her and how she continues to push herself in her 90s.

All in all, The Woman Who Says No is a refreshing yet grounded reprieve from the chaos and negativity in the world today. I recommend it to those looking for insight and encouragement.

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An introduction to mineralogy

Maria Kucinski

I have recently had the opportunity to explore the subject of mineralogy while working with the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History on their state-of-the-art gem and mineral gallery, David Friend Hall, opening this fall. When offered the chance to attend the East Coast Gem, Mineral & Fossil Show in West Springfield, I, along with my colleague Bri Tarpey, eagerly set out for Western Mass. to learn about these wondrous mineral specimens, which I have come to realize are like sculptures formed by the earth.

Bob Jones

Bri and I had the honor of hearing Bob Jones, a prolific mineralogist for which a mineral is named after him (Bobjonesite), speak about the new David Friend Hall at Yale. He discussed how he was inspired by Yale’s mineral collection in 1937 and how the new hall aims to continue to spark curiosity with its contemporary display and remarkable specimens (including the 4,000 pound Chinese fluorite with quartz secured by Cap Beesley). Bob explained how David Friend Hall represents the next chapter in the Peabody’s 150-year history as it builds on Yale’s unique mineralogical history which began with Benjamin Silliman and James Dwight Dana.

Peter Megaw Fluorite and Celestine Minas El Tule & Ilusion Melchor Muzquiz Area Coahuila

Following Bob Jones’ talk, Bri and I ventured into the beautifully curated Peter Megaw Collection from Mexico. As novices, it became evident to us that minerals are extraordinary in their shape, color, texture, and variations. Above, fluorite and celestine come together to create these cubic specimens of purple on a white ground.

Peter Megaw Secondary lead minerals Mina Ojuela Mapimi Durango

From the perfectly structured fluorite to the more organic-looking “secondary lead minerals” such as wulfenite, mimette, and cerusite.

Peter Megaw Smithsonite and...8th level mina San Antonio Santa Eulalla District Chihuaua

Here is a group of otherworldly-looking specimens of smithsonite.

Peter Megaw Rhodochrosite 10th Level Mina el Potosi Santa Eulalla District Chihuahua

Finally, the mineral that has obviously caught my eye is the rhodochrosite. It is pink (or what some people may call red) and comes in various shades and forms.

Geokrazy Minerals Rhodochrosite

After finishing up at the Peter Megaw collection, we decided to take a closer look and scope out the selection of minerals available for sale. A dealer showed me a few specimens of rhodochrosite and demonstrated how they sparkled under the light.

Geokrazy Minerals Rhodochrosite

Although these specimens were stunning, I thought I should start my mineral collection a little less ambitiously…(the price listed is $7,500).

East Coast Gem Mineral and Fossil Show Bri Tarpey

So Bri and I kept looking for those specimens which expert collectors advised, “speak to you,” as if spurting lines from a Marie Kondo book.

Geokrazy Minerals Thumbnail specimens

Finally, we came across some “thumbnail” specimens that would fit our needs. I found a perfectly pink and delicate rhodochrosite on quartz and Bri spotted a sharp, orange wulfenite. They are mementos to our journey to the East Coast Show and to proving that museums continue to inspire the desire to learn.

Rhodochrosite on quartz

All in all, with my collection officially started, I’m excited to continue learning more about minerals and sharing that excitement with others.

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Maks & Val: Our Way

Maks and Val

Dancing With the Stars is a great show because above all of the glitz and kicks, it conveys how anything is possible through hard work and commitment. I had the pleasure of seeing two of the show’s stars express this theme in their own live performance, Maks & Val: Our Way, which detailed the Chmerkovskiy brothers’ journey from the Ukraine into the hearts of Americans.

Accompanied by a cast of six dancers, Maks and Val told their story through dance vignettes highlighting transformative moments in their lives along with video montages and onstage interludes in which the brothers would poke fun at each other.

The show began with a video of Maks and Val’s father discussing the decision to send Maks to dance school at age four and the reason for leaving Ukraine ten years later in 1994. In preparation for their move to the US, their father wrote inspirational quotes on their kitchen wall such as, “If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail,” and, “We wil surviv.”

It was evident that Maks and Val were grateful to their parents for giving them the opportunity to dance and to move to the US. To make the best of their opportunity, they dedicated themselves to dancing and lived by the philosophy that it takes doing something 1,000 times in order to do it well. Maks started teaching dance in New Jersey and dancing at restaurants on the weekends to help support his family, and Val trained to win the first-ever world junior championship for the US team in 2001.

My favorite part of the show featured Maks as a dance instructor attempting to teach a group of unruly three year-olds to do the salsa. Eventually, under Maks’ direction, the students successfully worked their way through all of the dance styles. I loved how it showcased Maks’ discipline, patience, and drive.

I also enjoyed Val’s dramatic interpretation of love in the second act. The fusion of dance styles – in which the female dancers were portrayed as violins – conveyed the intensity and intricacies of love. Val also played the violin during the show.

Our Way also featured some comic relief revealing more about the Chmerkovskiy’s relationship. At one point, the brothers found themselves dancing together, prompting Maks to correct Val’s hold. During Drake’s “One Dance,” Maks executed a few booty-shaking solos, causing Val to role his eyes. They even brought a woman – from my hometown – onstage to be Maks’ prom date for a cute skit in which they were crowned prom king and queen.

All in all, Maks & Val: Our Way was an entertaining and heartwarming show underscoring the importance of hard work. Not only did I come away with a greater understanding of the Chmerkovskiy brothers, but with inspiration to keep working toward my goals. As Maks and Val took their final bow to Justin Timberlake’s new song, “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Val remarked, “Thank you for supporting the arts.” Amen to that.

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Thomas Lendvai

An image from the show "Thomas Lendvai 10" at Odetta Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY.

Thomas Lendvai: 10 at Odetta Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY. (c) John Muggenborg.

Thomas Lendvai is a meticulous, thoughtful, and talented artist who transforms everyday construction materials into large-scale sculptural experiences. His works celebrate the intrinsic and elemental value of the materials he utilizes while simultaneously exploring the notion of self. Through his work, he explores modernist and post-modernist theory of sculpture that is informed by a knowledge of carpentry, taught to him by his father at an early age.

Lendvai’s site-responsive installations make use of fundamental geometric forms to address concepts of space and time, and to engage audiences through experiential installations that break down the boundary between the art object and the subject and question the notions art, design, and architecture. His work encourages movement and a continuous awareness of a series of nows, allowing for audiences to experience a more tactile engagement with space and self.

His exhibition, 10 at Odetta Gallery in Brooklyn, exemplifies his artistic practice and is the culmination of years of study, exploration, and contemplation. It is also an impressive, monumental sculpture that is surreptitiously balanced, forcing the viewer to accept and at the same time question the idea of here and now. The sculpture transcends gravity by breaking the plane of the floor while the crux is simultaneously elevated. A feat that some might call “magic.” I would call it artistic mastery.

no distibution of images

(c) John Muggenborg

An image from the show "Thomas Lendvai 10" at Odetta Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY.

(c) John Muggenborg

An image from the show "Thomas Lendvai 10" at Odetta Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY.

(c) John Muggenborg

An image from the show "Thomas Lendvai 10" at Odetta Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY.

(c) John Muggenborg

no distibution of images

(c) John Muggenborg

An image from the show "Thomas Lendvai 10" at Odetta Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY.

Thomas Lendvai at Odetta Gallery, August 2015. (c) John Muggenborg.

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