Reynolda House Museum of American Art set a new museum attendance record for an exhibition opening weekend with its debut of “George Catlin’s American Buffalo”. The museum welcomed more than 450 visitors over the Saturday and Sunday of last weekend. The previous record was 408 visitors for the first Saturday and Sunday of an exhibition, when the museum opened “American Moderns, 1910-1960: From O’Keeffe to Rockwell” in February of 2014.
“The response to this exhibition has been overwhelming,” said Allison Perkins, Reynolda House executive director. “We’ve seen visitors from across the state and across the street, all who know George Catlin, love Western art, and feel a special connection to the stories of Native American life that Catlin tells in these paintings.”
“George Catlin’s American Buffalo” is the first exhibition of Western art hosted by Reynolda House since it opened the Mary and Charlie Babcock Wing 10 years ago. For the exhibition’s opening weekend, Reynolda House offered a ticket package that included admission to the museum, a custom exhibition t-shirt, a 10% coupon for Village Tavern and a photo opportunity at the Museum. Total attendance of 463 visitors over the two days included approximately 200 people who purchased their ticket in advance as part of the package.
The museum employed a marketing campaign for the exhibition inspired by a piece of its own history. Billboards, posters, and advertisements leading up to the exhibition’s opening proclaimed, “The buffalo are coming.” The campaign was inspired by the advertising campaign for the launch of Camel cigarettes, one of the first nationally known brands in the United States. In 1913, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company introduced Camel cigarettes to the world, supported by a set of teaser advertisements in popular national magazines and journals with a similar message: “The camels are coming.” Reynolda House is the 1917 country estate of R.J. Reynolds, the founder of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.
“We are always seeking new ways to share and connect the history of Reynolda with those who experience Reynolda today,” said Sarah Smith, director of external relations. “This campaign was a nod to our past.”
“George Catlin’s American Buffalo” is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in collaboration with the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Generous support for the exhibition has been provided by Mary Anne and Richard W. Cree, and Lynn and Foster Friess. Additional support for the exhibition and the publication was provided by William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment Fund and the Smithsonian Council for American Art. Support for “Treasures to Go,” the Museum’s traveling exhibition program, comes from The C.F. Foundation, Atlanta, Georgia.
Reynolda House is grateful for the generous support of the exhibition from Major Sponsor First Tennessee Bank. Additional support is provided by Major Sponsor the Charles H. Babcock, Jr. Arts and Community Initiative Endowment; Lead Sponsors Phoenix Packaging | Pam & Tom Skinner; Contributing Sponsors Mr. & Mrs. Bruce M. Babcock and Telos Furniture | Michael & Elizabeth Felsen; Exhibition Partners Teresa & Don Caine and The Ecology Wildlife Foundation; and Program Partners Anna McCoy Smith, Citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and Vernon & Frankie Winters.
You can read CCD’s review of “George Catlin’s American Buffalo HERE.
You can see a photo essay of a Native American blessing ceremony held at Reynolda House on the eve of the opening HERE.
You can find schedules, tickets, and more at Reynolda House HERE.