A Night at the Museum

Author: Michelle Russell       

A lucky winner had all night to drink in the works of great Dutch masters. Photo Credit Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum opened in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in 1885, housing paintings by such Dutch masters as Rembrandt and Vermeer. After more than a century and several additions later, the antiquated museum structure — unable to handle its growing collection and visitors — closed in 2003 for a much-needed renovation.

It took 10 years for the Rijksmuseum to reopen its doors, and the pent-up anticipation from art lovers was so great that just three years after its reopening, the museum was poised to welcome its 10 millionth patron.

To mark this milestone, museum leaders turned to event-organizing company Xsaga. Their goal was to generate free publicity in a cost-effective way, which would also confirm the museum’s branding message as the ideal place where you can be surprised at every moment of the day.

Xsaga hatched a plan: The 10 millionth visitor would be given the opportunity the spend the night at the museum, sleeping and keeping watch in front of Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch.”

At 2:04 p.m. on June 1, 2017, an unsuspecting visitor — the museum’s 10 millionth — entered the museum to the applause of more than 100 museum staff. The bewildered guest, Stefan Kasper, was greeted by the Rijksmuseum director and via a pre-recorded video of the Dutch Prime Minister, informed that he would be spending the night at the museum for the first time in its long history.

The stars seemed to align for this random guest. Kasper is a Haarlem–based teacher who enjoys sharing his love of art with his students. Plus, he’s a huge Rembrandt fan. The event was featured in a wide range of international media and in seven days had reached 31 million social followers. The campaign earned Xsaga 1st place in the Cultural Event category at the award program during Bea World International Festival of Events and Live Communication, held Nov. 15–17, in Porto, Portugal. We’d say Xsaga won for its most artful approach to the project.

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