Olympic Torch Relay: Is Your Museum On The Route?
If your museum is close to a relay route you may be interested in our experience. Liskeard is in East Cornwall and the whole town took part in Torch Day 1 celebrations. Being terribly well organised we had planned the museum’s contribution: “Sporting Liskeard” (a small exhibition) and a children’s craft workshop. But as the torch came closer “events” took us over! Come 19th May we had a superb exhibition which attracted hundreds of visitors and the comment in our visitors book from a representative of the British Olympic Association “Awesome Exhibition”.
So how did it happen? I would love to claim meticulous planning, but it all came together very quickly. Here are some tips which may be of use if you have not finalised your plans.
Spread the word that you are inviting contributions. Our local newspaper printed a press release welcoming contributions from the community. You could ask if there are any Olympians who would lend their souvenirs.
Amongst several loans of photos and artefacts came a call from a local swimmer, Cassie Patten, who had won a Bronze Medal in Beijing. She was willing to lend us some memorabilia.
Design the Display and Check Security
Once Cassie had visited the museum and was satisfied that we could safeguard her treasures, the offer grew from photos and cuttings to her Bronze Medal and Team GB kit. I reorganised the exhibition and arranged to show it for 2 days only.
Find a Clear Message
Despite being unable to compete through injury, Cassie is committed to helping other young people achieve their ambitions and she has visited local schools to show children her medal. This message was the basis of a great press release and so we asked Cassie if she would make a formal presentation of the medal giving us a photo-opportunity to publicise the now “Special Olympic Exhibition.”
Prepare the Press Release
I drafted a snappy press release and circulated local papers and radio. (In some places you might get local TV as well). The local press is very keen to get local Olympian stories. Not only did Cassie lend us her things but she agreed to be stationed in the museum on the day to help with the children’s crafts and sign autographs. This went into the publicity.
The town torch committee needed to present prizes for a children’s Torch Day Poster Competition. This merged with the presentation creating excellent photo opportunities in the museum. Different aspects of the story were covered in three papers and BBC Radio Cornwall.
Three year 9 secondary school students prepared a display on the history of the Olympics. They produced a timeline going from the ancient Greeks to 2012. This proved a popular feature of the exhibition. As a spin off we are setting up a Museum Club because their friends who came to see their displays now want to join the museum.
Meanwhile another local resident, a former British team chaplain, turned up with a box of wonderful Olympic memorabilia and posters of athletes.
NB He is willing to lend this collection to other museums en-route. See contact details at the end.
Prepare a Souvenir
Burning the midnight oil we put together a little quiz testing knowledge of the dates and venues of the games since 1896. In two folded A4 sheets we included the quiz and answers, the museum’s contact details and a large text box with an acknowledgement to Cassie Patten. This made an inexpensive souvenir of the day with the perfect place for our guest of Honour to sign autographs. It was lovely to see enthusiastic young people queuing to meet her and get her autograph.
As we arranged the displays on 17 May we realised that out of nowhere had come an impressive Olympic Exhibition. Not only was it a grand display, but it had been well publicised thanks to the news impact of the torch relay. One final re-branding (a perfect Siobhan Sharp moment) and the posters were printed “Liskeard Goes Olympian”.
We did a huge amount of work in a short time, but we had a month’s worth of visitors in one day. Many locals came into the museum for the first time and were visibly surprised at the warm welcome and friendly atmosphere. The good thing is that the majority, after looking at the Olympic exhibition went on to tour the rest of the museum. I am sure that we will be seeing many of them again.
We would be delighted to share our resources with you. To contact us call 01579 346087 or e-mail email@example.com.
Anna Monks, Hon. Curator