Enthusiastic patron response cited by BYU Museum of Art staff as main motivator
In the wake of overwhelming patron response to Sacred Gifts: The Religious Art of Carl Bloch, Heinrich Hofmann, and Frans Schwartz, Brigham Young University Museum of Art officials and art lenders from Europe and New York negotiated an exhibition extension through May 26, two weeks later than the original May 10 closing.
Along with the extension, the Museum announced an expansion of operating hours (10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday starting May 1) to accommodate more attendees during the exhibition’s busiest times. After Sacred Gifts closes, the visitation times will return to normal Museum hours.
“We tend to see a significant attendance increase in the evenings and during the final weeks of an exhibition,” said Hilarie Ashton, Marketing & Public Relations Director at the Museum. “By flexing with this trend, we hope to accommodate the many patrons still wishing to see Sacred Gifts.”
Free tickets for the first week of the extension (May 12-17) will become available May 4, and tickets for the second week of the extension (May 19-24, 26) will become available May 11. Tickets are required for admittance to Sacred Gifts, and can be reserved in advance online at sacredgifts.byu.edu/tickets. Standby tickets are also available as supply and space permit and are distributed to patrons on-site for same-day redemption at designated times.
More than 190,000 individuals have visited the exhibition as of mid-April, and tens of thousands of additional tickets have already been distributed to patrons who plan to attend. Ashton and other Museum staff feel that even more compelling than the high ticket counts is the enthusiasm with which patrons have responded to the Sacred Giftsinvitation to share the exhibition and their own gifts with others.
Thousands of Museum visitors have already participated in a crowd-funding campaign for the conservation of the paintings as a gift to the exhibition’s nine art lending institutions. Nearly $60,000 has been raised for the effort to-date. The lenders have also graciously been inundated with more than 11,000 heartfelt, digital and physical thank you messages from patrons. Notes continue to roll in each day.
“I don't have words to describe my gratitude. All superlatives fall short,” wrote visiting patron Val Nielsen. “I know this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me and was well worth the 800 miles traveled to get myself here to see it.”
Heather Hyte of New York called the exhibition “absolutely breathtaking” and fellow Museum visitor Allen Ostergar of California dubbed the artwork “the most moving paintings of the Savior that [he had] ever seen.”
With more than 1,500 shares and tweets featuring Sacred Gifts images directly from the museum’s Facebook page, enthusiastic patrons have also encouraged the online community to both virtually and physically attend the exhibition.
Returning patron Rod Olsen (@bhrod) tweeted, “Breathtaking, still. If you haven’t made a trip to this show, DO IT NOW! My 2nd time!!”
Tweeted fellow patron Emmeline Watts (@sweetmline), “Amazing Art by 3 amazing artists at the #BYU museum of art. It’s a must see!”
Facebook posts by Richard Young, Charlene Mackay Crozier and Kim Riding Maxwell are more examples of many online patrons lauding the exhibition as “once-in-a-lifetime,” and “must-see.”
Much of this sharing was made available via the Sacred Gifts iPad app, an educational, interactive resource developed specifically for the exhibition. About 50,000 individuals have already experienced the app either in the Museum or off-site. In December, the app was made available as a free download in the iTunes store and has since been downloaded in more than 24 different countries.
Daily sales in the Museum’s gift shop during Sacred Gifts have been up 500% on average, record highs for the organization. The nearly 15,000 prints, calendars and other items related to the exhibition that have sold since the November 2013 opening are leaving a lasting impression in the homes and lives of patrons long after their visit.
ABOUT THE MUSEUM
One of the largest and best-attended art Museums in the Mountain West, the BYU Museum of Art offers a dynamic exhibition schedule that includes displays of its permanent collection, world-class traveling shows and thought-provoking exhibitions organized by Museum curators. One of the Museum’s most important roles is its contribution to the academic mission of Brigham Young University. From the research and study of the artworks in the permanent collection, to the teaching and learning that occurs in classrooms and galleries, the Museum plays an important role in the academic pursuits of many students at BYU. Concurrently, the Museum seeks to connect to broad community audiences through its exhibitions and educational programming.