Arts Desk

Smithsonian Releases Images From Its “Seriously Amazing” Campaign

The Smithsonian has a youth problem. Today, the institution launched a national ad campaign it hopes will change that.

After conducting extensive research—a national survey of 1,200 adults, focus groups, interviews with people in target demographics, etc.—the Smithsonian discovered that most people they surveyed (89 percent) were aware of the institution, but people ages 18-24 were less likely to (77 percent). It also learned that half of their respondents had visited the museums, but in an email, Smithsonian Chief Spokesperson Linda St. Thomas says many of them reported being "dragged" there kicking and screaming.

We've already taken our shots at the campaign, called "Seriously Amazing"—as in Half Baked II: Seriously Amazing or Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure III: Seriously Amazing—but its images don't blatantly pander. They're framed around questions like, "What is part man, part fish, and all latex?", and they feature posed images of attractive, diverse young people in kooky outfits.

The campaign, the first in the Smithsonian's history, will place ads in Entertainment Weekly and People, and bedeck various spots in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, and of course, D.C. (including the Verizon Center). But it'll focus more on digital media, since, duh, these are millennials they're trying to reach.

The Smithsonian's website,, will continue as normal, but will become "the place to go for answers to our intriguing questions," says St. Thomas in an email. The website went live this morning. Its slogan: "Questions come alive at the Smithsonian."

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  • JM

    Are you sure that the Smithsonian has an youth problem? Maybe today's youth have an intellectual curiosity problem.

  • L. Colon

    They should have just bought and elaborated the fake Smithsonian ads for a couple years ago.
    THOSE were great.

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    @JM --- You are on to something. But it's hard to keep up with everything going on DC. Once you start to follow the exhibits, openings, etc. it becomes habit. If this effort can get younger people into that rhythm than it is a good thing because they will bring along their friends and the word will spread.