We recently had the opportunity to work with a very cool and very rewarding new client who wanted some help with a big upcoming event. First, some background. The Museum of disABILITY History is the only bricks-and-mortar museum in the country that focuses on the history of disabilities and creating awareness and dialogue about what that means – then, now and in the future. Dr. James M. Boles, president and CEO of People Inc., created the museum in 1998. They recently took part in a nation-wide project aimed at restoring the identities of nearly 1 million people who were buried in institutional graves in the 20th century and then abandoned as the institutions shut down. With a set of dedicated and spirited volunteers, over 2000 such graves in WNY were resurfaced and identities were restored. The exhibit is called Monument for the Forgotten, and it’s on display through the end of 2014. To celebrate this accomplishment, as well as announce the project to the public and invite WNYers to view the brand new exhibit, the museum wanted to host an Open House event. The Museum of DisABILITY is an amazing place. The work they do is incredibly important, and their mission is noble. Unfortunately, many people (even many who are Buffalo-born and raised) are unfamiliar with them. So when they hired TQS to help with the event, it was a great opportunity to help drum up some much-deserved attention for the museum. First, we created an info card that talks about the nuts and bolts of the project to restore the grave sites, as well as details about the special exhibit on display to showcase the results and hard work. Easy to hand out or leave with local businesses and partners. A big project for us was creating a video that did the exhibit justice and would garner some attention from those who watched it. An interview with Doug Farley, museum director, is the feature of the video. His passion for the work the museum does as well as this specific exhibit and project is clear. If you work in media, you know how common the press release is. You probably see dozens of them a week. We opted to create this video press release to give our friends in the media a little break from standard printed releases. And also to make it a little harder to ignore and a lot more interesting to view. Then we took that video and emailed it to a whole bunch of people. Finally, we took to Twitter and tweeted a bunch of local reporters and journalists. That’s right – we just sent a tweet with the story tip and opening invitation to our list of media contacts. Then we watched the re-tweets and favorites roll in., which lead to some great pre-event press and several reporters covering the grand opening event. Did you see the story Channel 2 News did on the exhibit? They visited the museum and did a live on-site interview, which was broadcast on Daybreak and then posted on their website. The Buffalo News wrote an article with a video feature as well. You can view that here. In the end, the event attracted a crowd that was nearly six times larger than a previous exhibit opening. Wow! And in addition to the great turnout at the event, the museum has a cool print piece to hang on to, a great video that really highlights the exhibit, and more coverage in the local news to make sure the WNY community recognizes the important cultural and social impact their work has. This was a team effort. We want to thank the museum not only for giving us the opportunity to partner with them on this event, but also for the important work they did to help restore the identities of WNYers who had been buried and forgotten in local mental institutions. Did you attend the event? Did you know that the exhibit is still on display? As the video states, thousands of people who died in mental institutions in the first half of the 20th century were buried virtually anonymously, due in large part to the stigmas of mental illness that frequently led to estrangement anyway. That means that thousands of people who were part of WNY families basically vanished from history. Maybe one of them is part of your family. All the names are listed at the exhibit, so that’s really the best way to find out. All in all, our work on this event was both rewarding and fun. It was great to be able to take a small part in this project that means so much to our community.
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