The right visual can really make the message. I am very lucky that when I begin to plan marketing for the various programs, events, and initiatives the Historical Society executes annually, I have access to thousands of photos, objects, documents, paintings, etc. to help communicate our message.
There are many benefits to using images from our collections for social posting, press releases, and such when we need them. We are most likely to have a clear copyright with items for our collections and using them in our communications collateral helps showcase the richness of our collection.
For example, when I created the top left graphic in the grid, I knew we had some great photos of winter fun in the collection, but wasn’t sure which would be the best fit for the message. I searched by keyword (you can too on our online collections site) for “sled” and this image of Levi Doran with his grandsons on a sled in the early 20th century popped up. I knew it would be a great one for our winter holiday post.
We also like to use our portraiture for events, as it’s wonderful to see some of our sober seated portrait subjects reimagined for a modern audience or situation. You can see above how we showed John Buckman as a bidder for our Bids for History auctions in 2020 and 2021. We also gave William Munroe the proper PPE for our hard hat tour of the new Archives and Research Center in March 2019.
One consideration, especially with human subjects, is respect. We would never show the people in our collection in unusual or disrespectful positions. It’s one of the basic tenets of museum best practice to care for the items in our collection as though they were our own and this applies to the subjects as well. Many of our uses of human subjects in marketing collateral are lighthearted, but we are careful to respect the humanity of the subjects in our care.
It’s much simpler with photos of landscapes or objects. In the above grid, I’ve used images of Lexington Park and a set of 18th century embroidered bed hangings to illustrate information for events and historic houses. And sometimes we can pair archival images with images from present-day Lexington, such as in the Then & Now duo of the Old Reservoir in 1968 and 2021.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the benefits of using our own photos, paintings, decorative arts, documents, etc. in our communications is how it allows us to share our rich collections with both the general public and the press involved in getting the story to the public. Often, a background image from a social post or a press release will spark a research request and someone who didn’t know we even existed will realize that we have something they are looking for! It’s highly gratifying when this happens and it reminds us that ultimately, caring for and sharing our collections is the purest form of mission fulfilment.
-Stacey Fraser, Collections and Outreach Manager
Featuring the voices of Lexington Historical Society permanent staff and occasional guest authors.