Museums And Preservation

As museums, historical societies and preservation groups work to preserve and honor the past, promotional products proudly carry the message.

For all our planning for the future, we don’t want to forget the past. Museums and preservation groups dedicated to keeping the past alive are more popular than ever—more than 4,500 programs dedicated to preserving history are at work in the U.S. and Canada alone. And museums, which number roughly 35,000 in the U.S. alone, run the gamut—from natural history to art to technology. Quirky collections abound as well, showcasing everything from barbed wire to SPAM (the canned meat, not the email invader).

But it takes more than love to keep museums and historical societies in operation. To keep patrons coming back and pledging their support, these organizations need a marketing plan that speaks to target audiences and reinforces the value of their efforts. Events such as historic walking tours, site-unveiling ceremonies and private museum visits are popular ideas for engaging patrons and donors—but how do you stay top of mind after the event? Promotional products get the job done.

The Kansas City Police Historical Society in Kansas City, Missouri, was founded in October 2004 as a grassroots effort to preserve the history of the Kansas City Police Department. One of the department’s more memorable icons is its bronze monument, sculpted in 1920, depicting a police officer holding a child. The historical society worked with AIA/Branding Stop in Lenexa, Kansas, to create 11-inch resin replicas to be sold as part of the group’s ongoing fundraising efforts.

“This was a unique project,” says Jim Peterson, vice president of strategic development for Branding Stop. “The goal of the project was to develop a lasting, true-to-life memento for the Kansas City police officers and loved ones who lost a member of the department in the line of duty.”

Peterson says the project took roughly three months to complete. The most challenging aspect, he says, was producing the item at a price point that would allow the client to offer the statue replicas for sale at a reasonable cost to the end buyer that would still offset the price of production.

In the end, says Peterson, the replicas have been well received. “Everyone who has purchased the statues has told the historical society how much they enjoy owning such a high-quality product that truly captures the essence of the actual statue.”

Preserve client relationships with products like these.

Foamworx plane

Whether you’re promoting an aviation school or historical museum, this foam novelty toy airplane is great for maintaining high interest. This toy plane comes in a variety of color options and has a wire leash so it can soar in the sky. Imprinting a logo is a cinch with the available screen print method.

Foamworx PPAI 211138


Symphony eclipse shades

Stretch the fun of a planetarium visit with custom-printed Eclipse Shades®. These special shades fold flat when not in use, and are perfect for viewing solar eclipses, sun spots and planetary transits of the sun.

Rainbow Symphony, Inc. PPAI 149988


liquid goblet timer JK-1920 from Jornik

Time doesn’t fly, it floats—at least it does in this cool liquid timer that runs for roughly two minutes. Choose from assorted colors for a quirky gift-shop item or giveaway.

Jornik Manufacturing Corp. PPAI 111065


Fields puzzle book

Improve memory retention, mental comprehension and perception skills with a game from the Your Active Mind game series. These assorted and highly addictive educational games are great for museum patrons who love a fun challenge.

Fields Manufacturing PPAI 111951


Donation stand

Garner more donations with a cleverly designed Deluxe Donation Stand. It’s made of tough, durable ABS plastic and break-resistant PETG plastic. It comes with a customizable header, dynamic action field and securable collection thanks to a unique key and lock. Made in the USA, the stand is designed to accept U.S. coins only.

Games People Play PPAI 255096


Quinn banner kit

The X-Banner Kit is a simple solution for museums and preservation societies who seek higher visibility. The included banner measures approximately 30.5 inches x 74 inches and is made from durable one-ply 450D polyester material. Pack up and go with ease, with all of the necessary hardware and a black carrying case for easy transportation. No additional tools are required and setup takes just minutes.

Quinn Flags & Banners PPAI 360359


Makana Line mug

Refresh any gift shop catalog or membership campaign with this double wall, 12-ounce mug. Perfect for hot or cold liquids, the mug is free of BPA and lead, and is HR4040-CPSIA certified, California Prop 65 compliant, made in the USA and FDA approved.

Makana Line LLC PPAI 649053


coffee wrap

Wrap up any event with a customized coffee cup wrap, made from 1/8-inch high density, cloth-laminated open cell foam and brush tricot lining. Choose from 26 foam colors.

American Zebra Line PPAI 111698


Buffalo Bay scarf copy

Great works of art take on new form when printed on 100-percent silk scarves. Wet-dyed custom designs and digital designs capture art and photographs beautifully.

Buffalo Bay PPAI 111547



Make a home for this museum-worthy piece. The glass apothecary jar is crafted with elegant arcs, dramatic dips and fluid form, and the functional aspect gets attention with the inclusion of distinctive sweets packaged in a decorative bag.

VisionUSA PPAI 112771


sweet nut tree coin box

Recognize a loyal patron with a mahogany-toned wooden box filled with two-inch assorted foil-wrapped chocolate coins. Customize the box with a laser-engraved message on the black plate.

Sweet Nut Tree PPAI 110936


Dinosaur award

Dino-loving donors will appreciate being honored with this beveled optic crystal plaque featuring a 3D etching of a dinosaur. The image and text are digitally printed on front and back.

Design Franc Art, Inc. PPAI 113706


Howard Miller award

Say thank-you to those who support preservation efforts with a Paragon Award. This glass crystal tabletop clock features striking bevels and tapered profile sides. The dial is reminiscent of the Nathan George Horwitt-designed museum clock that was selected for its design excellence by the Museum of Modern Art as a part of its permanent design collection.

Howard Miller Co. PPAI 114170


waterleaf paper art

Preserve precious memories with a sculptured print special-edition artwork. The “Arctic Chill” cast paper image is framed in deep mahogany molding with antique gold inner trim, and finished with premium triple acid-free mattes. Customize with a laser-engraved personalization plate.

Waterleaf Studios PPAI 601226

Beacon promotions clock

Pay homage to historic beauty with a Bulova Thomaston mantel chime clock. Housed in a hardwood case with a brown cherry finish, the clock features a historical design with mortise-and-tenon door construction. It also features a traditional metal dial with Roman numerals, metal filigree hands and raised corner spandrels. Bulova Harmonic triple-chime movement plays your choice of Westminster, Ave Maria or Bim-Bam melody on the hour, at an adjustable volume. Features include an automatic night shut-off switch and protective glass, as well as a brushed-brass engraving plate.

Beacon Promotions PPAI 113702


Mars Line plate

Commemorate historic sites on a 12-inch porcelain collectible plate. The plate is decorated with a kiln-fired, screen-printed decal, and it is dishwasher and microwave safe.

Mars Promotions PPAI 272762


Real-World Solutions

Case Studies From The Industry

ASB case study emblem

Distributor American Solutions for Business works with the National Museum of American Jewish Military History in Washington, D.C. to help promote the institution’s work and exhibits. The museum provides lapel pins and silicone wristbands, as well as “I Visited” stickers and logoed buttons.

Axis Promo case study items

For EF Education First, an international education group, the 2013 Presidential Inauguration was an ideal opportunity to raise awareness of the EF brand for travelers visiting Washington, D.C. EF wanted to excite its program participants, who included high school travelers and tour leaders visiting the Smithsonian during the historic occasion.

To achieve visibility, EF and distributor Axis Promotions teamed up on patriotic sunglasses that were given out to 2,500 students participating in the experience. Students were told they could wear the custom shades anywhere on their face, head, neck or jacket—as long as they were visible. This helped the tour leaders identify members of their group, and also drew outside attention to the EF program.

The 200 tour leaders and chaperones also received matching scarves, beanies and glasses to help them maintain high visibility while promoting the EF brand. In addition, thousands of EF stickers were given out at random.

This program helped the EF brand build awareness during a time in which nearly a million tourists were visiting Washington, D.C. The youth participants tweeted and shared pics of their new gear, garnering high social media marks for the brand, and the timing of the program made each piece a lasting historical souvenir.

The National Trust For Historic Preservation has identified the most endangered historic places in the U.S. since 1988 to raise awareness and encourage preservation efforts nationwide at the grassroots level as well as through federal action. To date, more than 270 sites have been named; the most recent named sites include:

Azikewe-Nkrumah Hall at Lincoln University, Pennsylvania

Built: 1865

Namesake: The first presidents of Nigeria and Ghana, respectively

Site Significance: The oldest building on campus and the site of the first degree-granting institution in the world dedicated to educating former slaves.


Chihuahita and El Segundo Barrio Neighborhoods, El Paso, Texas

Built: 1850s to present day

Site Significance: The neighborhoods south of downtown El Paso reflect the span of the city’s history and waves of migration from Mexico, from the Spanish conquest of modern-day Texas and the Southwest, to the modern era. Structures include adobe homes from the mid-19th century and Victorian-era hotels and stores.


Charleston Naval Hospital District, South Carolina

Built: 1917-1949

Site Significance: This collection of buildings served as the primary re-entry point for American service members who were injured in Europe and Africa theaters during World War II. Architecture and building layouts reflect advances in military medicine and the growth of medical specializations, including psychiatric care.


Delta Queen, Houma, Louisiana

Built: 1926

Site Significance: This riverboat remains the last authentic link to the 200-year era of passenger steamboat travel. The Delta Queen carried overnight passengers until 2008, when its grandfathered status expired. The interior of the wooden steamboat features Tiffany-style stained glass windows, a grand staircase, and the original system of engines and boilers.


Mitchell Park Domes, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Built: 1959-1967

Site Significance: A nationally significant example of Midcentury Modern architecture, the domes house what’s been called “a zoo for plants.” They are the world’s first cone-shaped domes and remain the only glass conoidal domes in use as conservatories.

Collecting History

Archeologist Leonard Woolley discovered what is considered to be the world’s oldest museum—a collection of artifacts gathered by Princess Ennigaldi around 530 BC in her Babylonian palace, neatly organized and labeled with dates and places of origin.

In the modern era, the Capitoline Museum in Rome dates to 1471, housing a collection of public art. The Royal Armouries in the Tower of London are the world’s oldest visitor attraction, opening to the public in 1660.

Not all museums are dedicated to the broader topics of art and history. Many more institutions focus on a single subject or fascination.

  • Beijing Tap Water Museum, China
  • British Lawnmower Museum, England
  • The Museum of Bread Culture, Germany
  • Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum, Japan
  • Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, India

Line Up

The 10 most popular American museums (based on annual attendance reported in 2016):

Washington, D.C. – National Air and Space Museum, 7.5 million visitors

Washington, D.C. – National Museum of Natural History, 7.1 million visitors

New York – Metropolitan Museum of Art, 6.7 million visitors

New York – American Museum of Natural History, 5 million visitors

Washington, D.C. – National Museum of American History, 3.8 million visitors

New York – Museum of Modern Art, 3.01 million visitors

Los Angeles – California Science Center, 2.63 million visitors

Houston – Houston Museum of Natural Science, 2.29 million visitors

Chicago – Art Institute of Chicago, 1.8 million visitors

Denver – Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 1.7 million visitors