Skip to content

Publicity: Oh the places it might lead!

June 5, 2018

Publicize!  Get the word out about your work because it can lead to places you never thought you’d go.  For the Cottage Grove Museum, publicity around a Heritage All-Star Grant led us to places we would never have dared plan or dreamed possible.

coat install at National Geographic_opt

Installation of Marion Wright’s coat at the National Geographic Museum

The museum used the grant to help upgrade the exhibit of an artifact that belonged to Titanic survivor and Cottage Grove resident Marion Wright Woolcott.  Known as “The Titanic Coat” or  “The Lucky Coat,” it is the coat Marion wore when she was rescued from the Titanic.  Her destination was Cottage Grove, where she lived with her husband Arthur on a farm west of town for the rest of her life.   For over 30 years the museum has quietly exhibited the coat, which has been sought out by only the most intrepid Titanic fans.

The Eugene Register Guard got word of the grant and approached the museum about doing a story about the grant.  We happily agreed.  Shortly after the story ran, the museum’s board chair received a call from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley California, asking if they could borrow the coat for their upcoming exhibit, Titanic at the Reagan.  Staff at the Reagan Library had read The Register Guard article!

The Cottage Grove Museum is a small museum run by volunteers and had never loaned anything from its collection.  After gathering advice from museum professionals we agreed to the loan in exchange for items that would be key to upgrading our exhibit.  The agreement required us to get an insurance value for the coat, so we asked an appraiser from the Antiques Roadshow to help us out.  That’s when we found out just how valuable the coat was.  We also had a textile conservator do a condition report – another first for the coat.

The coat remained on exhibit at the Reagan Museum for 10 months and was seen by nearly 300,000 visitors.  In the meantime, the Cottage Grove Museum received a Heritage Grant from the State Historic Preservation Office to help fund the rest of the exhibit upgrade.

Then, a few months before the coat was due to return, another unexpected twist developed: the Reagan Library exhibit was to be incorporated into an upcoming exhibit at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C.  Would the Cottage Grove Museum consider loaning the coat to National Geographic for that exhibit?  The answer was yes!  The coat is now at the National Geographic Museum through January 2019 where it is part of the exhibit Titanic: The Untold Story.

Publicity around our small grant set in motion a series of events that exposed the coat to far more people than we ever thought possible and equally important, made it possible for the Cottage Grove Museum to upgrade the exhibit.  

So go ahead, publicize your work.  You’ll be surprised where it could lead!

Written by: Cathy Bellavita, Cottage Grove Museum Volunteer

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: