I, Curator

The Whitney Museum of American Art has launched a new membership campaign, themed to the idea of “curating” your own membership. The idea takes a cue from performing arts groups that have increasingly allowed subscribers to pick and choose among series of varying length and type. But the Whitney campaign, with its colorful and streamlined graphics, takes the concept a couple steps farther, by identifying potential subscribers as personality types rather than by interest. So we have the options of Social, Insider, Philanthropy, Learning and Family.

The last two are fairly traditional types of memberships that offer educational benefits and family programs. The other categories, though, show a new recognition of how members not only use the museum, but how they view their membership. The Social option acknowledges that some people join a museum for the events, receptions and networking, and it boosts the possibilities by including events around the city as well as at the Whitney. The Insider speaks to those who want to flaunt their knowledge about the hottest exhibits by offering access to information from curators.  Philanthropy is a core, or basic, membership that emphasizes the tax benefits of joining.


Coupled with the lively graphics—a key for Insider, talk bubbles for Social—the campaign materials make it simple to pick and choose, by getting right to the point. They may not be a subtle as traditional campaigns that offer multiple levels of benefits depending on the membership, but they are definitely less confusing.

No doubt the new approach is a move to grab the attention of social-media users and those who might attracted to the Whitney’s plans to build a new location in the Meatpacking District. It’s an interesting way to update the typically discreet membership campaigns by laying it all out there: yes, this is partly about donating dollars to the museum, and here’s what you get in the way of tax breaks; yes, we understand what you hope to get from your membership and here are some ways we can help you get the most out of it.