More than 10,000 press kits devoted to "Van Gogh's Van Goghs: Masterpieces from the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam," were distributed and articles on the Van Gogh exhibit, which was on view Oct. 4 through Jan. 3, appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post the day the exhibit premiered. Anderson Consulting, Chicago, paid close to $1 million to act as sole corporate sponsor.
"We did a very solid job of [promoting] the exhibition," says Deborah Ziska, the museum's press and public information officer. "After that the story was like a snowball going down a hillside."
More than 480,000 visitors attended the free exhibition-an average of 5,339 per day-according to Ms. Ziska, including such celebrities as Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman and Robin Williams. It was not uncommon to see people lined up for passes as early as 4 a.m.
In an era when big museums often use blockbuster exhibits to attract record numbers of visitors, the Van Gogh exhibit proved that marketing helps, but so do big names.
"Van Gogh is a cultural icon, he creates a visceral experience," says Ms. Ziska. "If you looked at people who came to the exhibit, you saw people from all walks