Campaign: Turner's Britain made a success in Birmingham - Public Sector PR

Campaign: Turner's Britain Exhibition Client: Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery PR team: Claire Jowett Communications Timescale: November 2003-February 2004 Budget: £80,000

Birmingham City Council's PR team wanted a major exhibition to put the city on the map. It used Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery curator Jane Farrington's contacts with Birmingham University curator professor James Hamilton - author of Turner's Britain - to plan a Turner event.


To raise the profile of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery as a venue for major shows. To sell at least 55,000 tickets.

Strategy and plan

The in-house team had a target market of people over 45 living between Manchester and the South. A key challenge emerged 18 months ahead of the exhibition as they found London's Tate Britain, Manchester City Art Gallery and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts were also planning Turner shows.

The council decided to co-operate with the other galleries and approach local media by differentiating the Birmingham exhibition as spanning Turner's whole life. It then enlisted freelance PRO Claire Jowett to promote the event to London-based media.

Jowett worked with the council to secure awareness of Turner's Britain well in advance by holding face-to-face meetings with representatives from long-lead media a year before the show, followed by contacts with women's, lifestyle and consumer magazines, national newspaper arts critics and, in the final weeks before the exhibition, regional and local media.

Measurement and Evaluation

Turner's Britain gained coverage in national newspapers and local papers.

BBC Radio 4's Front Row featured the exhibition, as did BBC local radio and TV. The council's cuttings analysis found only one negative article, where the journalist described the Turner exhibition as 'not my cup of tea'.


The exhibition attracted 60,000 visitors. 'One thing I'd pick out is Turner's Fighting Temeraire, shown outside London for the first time in 50 years. It had that rarity value, which was a strong selling point.

And I had no problem getting the interviews I wanted,' says Birmingham Post arts editor Terry Grimley.

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