An exhibition 40,000 years in the making

This week’s staff breakfast, presented by colleagues from the Interpretation and Marketing teams, was a look back at the recent major exhibition, Ice Age art: arrival of the modern mind. Specifically, the teams were looking at visitors’ expectations of the exhibition and the challenges in marketing and designing the promotional campaign.

The Interpretation team undertook surveys with 600 visitors to the exhibition, and found that 75% of visitors had little or no knowledge or the Ice Age or Ice Age art. Similarly, many people didn’t know exactly how old objects described as ‘Ice Age’ are, but did find the concepts of ‘the arrival of the modern mind’, and the linking of modern art with Ice Age art (through artists such as Matisse and Picasso) appealing.

52% of visitors said the exhibition exceeded their expectations, and the three most popular words used to describe the exhibition were, beautiful, educational and stimulating. The popularity of the exhibition (which far exceeded expectation, attracting 92,000 visitors) did create pinch points, with 15% of visitors reporting that their experience was limited by others.

As well as more traditional methods such as posters and flyers, both at the BM and throughout London, the marketing team made extensive use of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare. These were used to promote the exhibition, before opening to raise interest, throughout the exhibition, and again towards the end of the exhibition to highlight the last few weeks. This helped us to deliver a hugely popular and successful exhibition. Although the exhibition is now closed, please see the links below to find out more about the exhibition themes, and other prehistoric collections at the BM: