Overlooking 235 scenic acres on the banks of the Brandywine IN Wilmington, DE sits Hagley Museum and Library, the site of the gunpowder yards founded by E. I. du Pont in 1802. The museum and library provide members and visitors the opportunity to witness the development of American business, technology, and INnovation – it is truly a hub of primary source materials and business collections from 1450 to the present.
But Hagley hasn’t seen the curious eye of a visitor since March 13th because of COVID-19.
Laura Jury, Marketing Manager at Hagley, described how their team worked to navigate within the new socially distant climate. They created a cohesive plan to share stories, history lessons, behind the scenes videos and various online content for their members and virtual visitors alike- all at a moment’s notice.
“All along the way, the safety of our visitors and staff has been and is the top priority. From a marketing perspective, we had to quickly formulate a plan and collect as much content as we could because we knew we wouldn’t be able to get into the office.”
Laura and her marketing team—a powerhouse of three—took as many photos and videos as they could in the brief period they had before they closed (which, as she described, was a very short two days).
“We were running around – we filmed two video field trips in one day.” They connected with Hagley Historian, Lucas Clawson, to film ‘behind the scene’ videos and managed to shoot five videos back to back to stockpile content. Laura believes that their virtual approach will help introduce Hagley to people who may be unfamiliar with the museum, to learn that it’s a place of discovery and exploration beyond a second-grade field trip.
Since you can’t go to Hagley, they’ve made it their goal to bring Hagley to you with their Hagley From Home initiative. Hagley From Home aligns with what many museums are doing now to cope with stay at home orders, making tours and exhibitions virtually accessible.
Although some popular events have been impacted, like the much-anticipated member’s exclusive Fireworks at Hagley, they’ve seen a significant increase in social media engagement. “People are really wanting that break,” said Laura, “they want to look for things as a distraction or entertainment. They’re just getting bombarded with all the negativity of the Covid-19 news and just looking for a break from that all.”
Hagley From Home provides a variety of options to escape the uncertainty of the world today and a glimpse into spaces that spark hope and curiosity. Take a leisurely afternoon drive through Hagley, get almost close enough to smell the newly-boomed Azaleas, spend an hour relaxing to the sights and sounds from the banks of the Brandywine, and dive deeper into Hagley’s collections with resident historian, Lucas Clawson, to name a few.
Hagley From Home offers a way for members and visitors to take a step back from social feeds flooded with Covid-19 information, updates on economic distress, and nationwide unrest and a step INto history, enlightenment, and understanding. In a way, Hagley From Home encourages a time for pause and reflection to remember there is still so much to celebrate in our society.
In the days, weeks, and now months after the initial closing, work-life has changed for Laura’s team, as it has for millions of Americans trying to cope with the effects of Covid-19. “I think it was really a pivot to relying on the technology. We were very fortunate on the marketing side of things because most of our work can be done remotely,” Laura said. Their drive to share Hagley with people has continued to thrive.
Despite the uncertainty of the future, Hagley remains optimistic. They are doing their best to be prepared for the go-ahead to begin their reopening phases. And while it may be unclear as to when they will be allowed to implement a reopening plan, they are excited to continue to offer virtual tours, behind the scenes videos and video field trips on their website and through their social media platforms IN a way that encourages people to learn about American innovation.
Find out more at Hagley.org.