In 2007 the McKinley National Memorial in Canton, Ohio celebrated its 100th anniversary with a year of special events. In this special series of articles we will explore the planning that went into an exhibition, behind-the scenes tours, an anniversary dinner, a penny campaign and a major special event – a 100 Hours Celebration where the museum stayed open for 100 consecutive hours.
The crown jewel of our 100th anniversary year was the 100 Hours Celebration.
Yes, my museum stayed open for 100 consecutive hours! All day and all night!
It was a monumental undertaking! We began planning it more than two years in advance, with weekly meetings for the final year leading up to the event.
We began by brainstorming. No ideas were too wild or outlandish. We wrote each one on a card and tacked it up on a large board. Next we sorted ideas that were too ambitious to save for another time, such as a dance-a-thon and a 5K run.
We weren’t too concerned with making everything relate to our Mission, but because we are a presidential site, a historical society, a planetarium AND a science center, many of the events we chose were relevant. But most of all, we wanted people to have FUN!
We used our own contacts in the community – people we knew or had seen give programs at other events. Most didn’t even charge a fee!
To keep things organized, we made a chart for each area of our building where we could offer programming, hour by hour. As we confirmed classes, speakers, workshops and programs, we filled in the chart.
It was a huge organizational task to keep track of 100 hours worth of programming! On top of that, we decided to provide all meals for purchase.
Some events required reservations, if there were supplies needed or limited space. We handled that at a special information table in the lobby.
These are some highlights of the event:
Crafts for Kids
Line Dancing Performance
FREE Midnight Snacks
Midnight Pancake Breakfast*
Glow in the Dark Experiments
Stargazing Wine & Cheese Party*
The World’s Largest Puzzle (18,000 pieces!)
Local Authors Book Signing
Counted Cross Stitch Class
Brick Laying Demonstration
Smores at the Outdoor Hearth
“CSI Canton” Speaker from the Crime Lab
Classic Car Show (we do this every year)
Ice Cream Social*
Horse & Carriage Rides*
Tethered Hot Air Balloon Rides*
*All events and programs were included except those with an asterisks
We did hire an overnight security guard “just in case,” but nothing out of the ordinary happened during the entire week. We had some teenagers come in around midnight who were perfectly behaved – they just thought it would be cool to come to a museum late at night!
Even if you don’t want to plan something as ambitious as a 100 Hour Celebration, try staying open until midnight one night, just to create some buzz because it’s so unusual for a museum to be open that late!
Any of the ideas we tried could be combined with events you already do at your museum to create a new special event. Or you might simply want to pick one and try it by yourself!
Here are some stats about our 100 Hours Celebration:
* We had 2200 people in the building over 5 days
* Over 105 volunteers gave 1000+ hours of their time
* We made $1700 profit in food sales
* There were 130 individual events throughout the 100 hours
* We gave away 100 prizes in the Museum Shoppe (each person got a ticket with admission and tickets were drawn every hour on the hour)
The next articles in this series will document more ways that my museum celebrated the 100th anniversary of the McKinley National Memorial in 2007.