• 7 Steps to Getting the Most Out of a Historical Setting

    FROM THE Fall 2014 ISSUE

MUSEUM PROPERTIES NOT ONLY PROVIDE A UNIQUE SETTING FOR EVENTS, but also a timeless and historical one. This makes museum properties some of the most sought-after venues for truly spectacular events. Additionally, clients and attendees have the opportunity to experience art exhibitions. Utilizing the unique surroundings and changing exhibitions allows clients to think outside the box, and incorporate highlights of the existing space and exhibitions into the event vision.

However, planning an event at a museum property involves some savvy in order to avoid extraneous costs and stress. As the site rental manager of two of the most beautiful museum properties in Austin-The Contemporary Austin and the Jones Center-I have some tips to ensure the success of any museum event.

Read every word of the contract. Clarify details and do not be afraid to ask questions. Delicate museum properties often have expanded rules and regulations. Even if you have a planner, the name on the contract is the ultimate party responsible.

Do not make assumptions. Outdoor sparklers, large trucks fitting in historical gates, parking, real potted plants, electricity, extra lighting and tents against the buildings are all points you should inquire about. Buildings with historical designations and art insurance are very particular about what is allowed near the art or touching the building. If you have any questions, be sure to ask. Small missteps can be expensive. Hint: Event insurance is a great idea at museum properties.

Do not expect exhibits to be the same as they were during the first site visit. None of the art or historical pieces can be moved because it does not match the theme or décor of the event. However, Meredith Pollard with Crave Catering of Austin had a great idea: With permission, the museum can sometimes allow pipe and drape to cover certain areas. Always keep in mind that the role of the venue is to be a museum first and an event venue second.

Access: Unlike other venues, museum spaces are also open to the public and therefore setup and teardown times can be tight. Rental items must arrive on time. Rental companies often charge more for this timing, so be aware. Also, do not assume things can be left overnight, including vehicles.

Use vendors with experience at the museum. They know the rules: whether every chair needs felt pads, where things must be hand-carried, etc. Rachel Church with Marquee Event Group recommends clients contact vendors before signing the contract, since unique properties often have special logistical needs. For example, historical properties often do not have standard loading docks and may not even have elevators. Clarify so you don’t get hit with last-minute or unexpected charges. Often, clients experience headaches with inexperienced vendors.

Reduce the amount of décor. After all, there is no need to develop an elaborate theme if a venue is already breathtaking.

Membership: Some museums require clients to be a member to host an event at the property. Working with the museum to obtain a membership can only add to your experience of the venue. Also, if your organization has something to offer in exchange for membership; it never hurts to ask.

Bonus: The event is helping to support the arts and preserve the mission and property of the museum for many generations to come.

Museum properties not only provide unforgettable evenings, but they’re usually there to stay. Clients don’t have to worry about a historical property going out of business. We cannot tell you how often we hear event patrons mention it was the most memorable, beautiful event they have ever attended. The extra logistics are worth it. In a world of undistinguished ballrooms, museum properties can provide a distinct look and culture for guests. I challenge you to break the mold!

Keri-Dawn Solner has been
in the event business for more
than 12 years and in venue
management for more than six
years. After working with trade
shows, fundraisers and performance
events, she began working in venue management.
She has been with The Contemporary
Austin and the Jones Center for two years.

Keri-Dawn Solner has beenin the event business for morethan 12 years and in venuemanagement for more than sixyears. After working with tradeshows, fundraisers and performanceevents, she began working in venue management.She has been with The ContemporaryAustin and the Jones Center for two years.

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