Public Relations at the Cleveland Museum of Art

October 29, 2008

One of the saddest days of my life was when I found out the Cleveland Museum of Art was going to close for renovation.  The CMA was one of my favorite places to go on a boring afternoon.  I’d spend a few hours visiting the museum then walking around Little Italy and then maybe out to Coventry to check out the bookstores.  I’m definitely a Cleveland girl and proud of it!

The Cleveland Museum of Art
The Cleveland Museum of Art

How does a closed art museum keep people interested?
Public relations of course!  Even though most of the museum was closed they still kept some galleries open for special exhibitions.  I’ve tried to make it to every one.  They have had a spectacular Monet exhibit and a Barcelona exhibit showing works by Salvador Dali, PicassoMiro and Gaudi.  Those are just a couple examples of the exhibits CMA has put on while they are renovating.  Right now they have a exhibit called “Artistic Luxury: Tiffany, Faberge, Lalique”

Iris Brooch, Tiffany and Co.

Iris Brooch, Tiffany and Co.

 How Artist Luxury is generating publicity
The exhibit is running through January 18 and has given the CMA a lot of chances to keep the CMA brand in people’s minds.  Like all the other special exhibits Artistic Luxury has sparked a lot of programming.  If you check out the CMA’s press release page you’ll see programs like a film series and a Breakfast at Tiffany’s program where every Tuesday and Thursday from 10 to 11 a.m. people can have breakfast served at the museum before they view the art.  Those are just a few examples of how the museum is keeping its name floating around town.  The curator of the exhibit has also set up a blog and video blog about the exhibit.  Sounds like some awesome PR.  But that’s obvious considering the CMA’s head PR guy is a Kent grad. 

How to take the CMA’s example
It would be easy for the public to forget about the CMA during its renovations, but they kept their name in the press by having amazing programming while they are closed.  They supplemented their special exhibits by having programming that engages the audience and gets them in the news.  This would be a good practice even if the museum wasn’t closed but because the museum is closed it is even more important.

Imperial Pansy Egg, House of Faberge

Imperial Pansy Egg, House of Faberge

  Many public relations practitioners could take the CMA example for their clients.   Running a successful campaign for a closed museum and keeping the museum’s name in the media must be a challenge. 





  1. Awesome blog!!!! Thank you so much for taking notice of CMA and the challenges we are facing with PR. I’ve been here for almost two years and I love the challenge of keeping the public engaged with us during this transitional time. And I really liked the line about the PR guy with the KSU degree. Made my day!! All the best.

  2. Thanks! The CMA and public relations are two of my favorite things so blogging about them is fun. I can’t wait to visit again and see the Artistic Luxury exhibit. 🙂

  3. I share your sadness with the closing of the CMA. Although, with all the special exhibits they have had since the closing I feel it has opened up a unique opportunity to get to see some really fun stuff. I know I always make a special effort to go to all their exhibitions, and after reading this blog I am intrugued by the programming opportunities they offer. I look forward to the opening of the new museum and to see how the CMAs awesome PR will take its course of action.

  4. Yes it is very sad the museum is mostly closed but because of the hard work of CMA’s PR team there are still plenty of reasons to visit. I’m looking forward to the reopening as well. 🙂

  5. Great post! As a PR major and art enthusiast I think it’s really interesting to look at art (especially museums and galleries) from a PR perspective. CMA has definitely done a good job of keeping people interested while they are renovating.

    My question is how will CMA approach the reopening from a promotional and PR related standpoint? And after that, will they be able to keep having such amazing special exhibits and extra programming?

    I can’t wait to see what they do and to hear what you have to say about it!

  6. As a public relations major and theater minor this blog really intrigued me. The two subjects combined are the things that interest me most. The CMA is a wonderful attraction that was sadly closed. I agree with the posts about saying that it was an unfortunate thing for them to close, but it was a very good business decision for them to keep certain exhibits open. It is interesting to see how PR will work with the arts and specifically for this museum. The PR people worked hard to make sure that the exhibits that were still open were put in the media. I love seeing how the PR professionals work since I will be one soon. Like Katie said I am also interested to see the specific promotion that they do to plan the reopening. PR is keeping people interested in the CMA by promoting and putting their exhibits in the news media. The media is the best way to get people to know whats happening and to advertise. I love seeing how PR and art work together. Great post and good comments!!! I am excited to see how they promote the reopening of the museum that so many people love.

  7. I’m not sure how the CMA will handle the reopening but I’m sure however they do it, the reopening will be great. I envision a big event and lots of advertising around the city. I’m sure all the media will cover it. The museum is actually opening bits and pieces of the museum at a time so the big event will probably happen when the last pieces are completed. The museum renovation is, after all, the largest cultural project in Ohio history.

    To answer Katie they will continue to have special exhibits. They have always done this even when they are open. Special exhibits are a way to show people in different areas pieces of art from museums around the country and the world. This way everyone can have a chance to see famous artworks.

    One more thing:
    I think that public relations practitioners and artists are a lot alike. We are both trying to express a message to our audience in a creative way.

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