Oh, c’mon, admit it! A wide-eyed, excited, little shiver went up your back at the mere mention of them, didn’t it? Who doesn’t love dinosaurs? I admit it. I’ve loved them since I was young. I still have my first dinosaur book. I watched the Flintstones with amusement. And in recent years I was a proud and satisfied attendee among eight-year-olds at Walking with Dinosaurs at Madison Square Garden.
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County reopened its Dinosaur Hall this week to much fanfare. Articles about it in the Los Angeles Times and New York Times naturally caught my attention. In fact, the Natural History Museum was the first museum where I came face to face with real dinosaurs as a kid. Very exciting!
Since it’s summer and I just wanted to write about dinosaurs there’s not much branding analysis here. That said, the articles do touch on several themes that we’ve mentioned before on museum design and interpretive strategy:
• An emphasis on the fact that knowledge is always in flux and that we continually learn new things, adjust our hypotheses, and update our knowledge. This is especially true with dinosaurs as our knowledge in this area has increased significantly since the 1970s.
• Dynamic placement and orientation of artifacts that naturally leads into telling a story and contextualizing known information—and the discovery of new information, in this case, a story of survival, life-stages, and the “how” scientists learn about dinosaurs.
• Speaking to audiences without dumbing down information, and making information accessible enough and tiering it to sustain engagement across a range of visitors.
Since their discovery and placement in museums, dinosaurs have always been a hit with audiences, but exhibitions like the Natural History Museum’s focus on the wonder of discovery and the excitement of how we fill in the blanks of all that we don’t know. As the LA Times article states, “. . . the captivating quality of dinosaurs seems to come from the very fact that so little is known about them. And hence the magic of dinosaurs lives on.” This touches on another point of good branding: that content must touch an emotional chord within us. The teaser ad and introductory commercial do a great job of playing off this emotional connection.
I’ve mentioned many times that all branding starts with content (or the product to be a bit crass) and dinosaurs are an easy sell in branding terms. The relaunch of Dinosaur Hall invites adults to reconnect to their childhood fascination and youngsters to discover theirs—and of course, it puts the Natural History Museum back on the list for consideration for family activities, in case it had fallen off. Don’t you want to go to the exhibition now? Can’t wait to get to LA!