Smithsonian, H&K gear up for opening of DC museum

WASHINGTON: The Smithsonian Institution and Hill & Knowlton will see three years of media prep work come to a head this week when the National Museum of the American Indian opens on the National Mall.

WASHINGTON: The Smithsonian Institution and Hill & Knowlton will see three years of media prep work come to a head this week when the National Museum of the American Indian opens on the National Mall.

The extensive push behind the unusual museum - described as more anthropological experience than passive exhibition - involved international outreach to everyone from travel writers to architecture critics.

The approach was apparent in coverage last week, with newspapers, such as The Washington Post and The New York Times, running stories about the museum in their lifestyle, travel, arts, and A sections.

"This is a global destination for museum-goers," said David McKay, SVP with H&K's marketing practice and the lead on the account. "It's a reclamation, not just for the native people of the US, but of all the Americas, and it delivers a very powerful message: 'We are not relics of the past. We are a vibrant culture."

To ensure that message is heard, H&K hosted a media-only preview of the museum last Wednesday. About 250 reporters were given a private tour of the recently completed building. One-on-one tours for select outlets also have been conducted over the past several months.

The official opening, scheduled for tomorrow, is expected to attract about 300 domestic and international reporters. Today, ABC News, CNN, and NPR will all be broadcasting live from the site, some for the entire week.

H&K worked with the Smithsonian on a project basis for the first year. The agency then won a two-year, $1 million contract, focusing on media relations and strategy.

After the museum opens, H&K will shift to measurement mode, gauging awareness of the museum's key messages.

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