Would you pay $1.00 to have a temporary emblem of your institution or favorite artifact emblazoned on your arm, ankle, or elsewhere?

 Customized, temporary tattoos could be a great way to share your collection with participants at your cultural heritage institution.  Given the right designs, temporary tattoos are fun for all ages and can be a way for constituents to personalize their visits to your site.   Also, because they are temporary, they are not only painless to apply, but also the wearer does not have to commit to the edginess of permanent body art.

 This idea came up at a thought-provoking session I attended at NCMC this year, led by an Alamance Community College class, about building new audiences for museums.  I remember that another session attendee mentioned her institution had tried this successfully, maybe by bringing in a henna tattoo artist for a special event.  Perhaps an even more affordable idea for your institution and its participants is to invest in small runs of temporary tattoos.  Select several images of architectural elements, art, or artifacts from your institution and upload them to to determine the cost of your potential order. 

 If you order 200 or more of a particular image, the cost will be below one dollar for each tattoo.  An order of 100 will run about $1.40 each, the price increasing as the order numbers decrease, until the charge for a single print is $2.77.  (Shipping is free for orders over $15.00)  While these tattoos would be fun appreciation gifts for staff and volunteers, I expect that many visitors would be willing to buy one for $1.00—if the image was something unique to your site that they felt a connection to or affinity for.  With that potential to recoup the productions costs, even low-budget institutions could afford this program.

 Selecting images that would work for tattoos is probably easier than you think.  Ideas relating to our own Department of Cultural Resources include the state seal, the DCR logo, a dogwood branch, and a cardinal.  The anthemion crown atop the dome of the Old State Capitol would make a cool Celtic-band-type tattoo.  

Of course, there are many other possibilities for DCR and all other cultural heritage institutions throughout the state.  In order to make this activity even more participatory, why not survey visitors and social media “friends” about the images relevant to your institution that they might want as tattoos, before embarking upon production?

 So, consider promoting body art and your collection simultaneously, meanwhile exciting your current audience and reaching out to new ones.


About collectionsconversations

This blog will contain posts from the C2C project staff on a variety of topics related to collections care and disaster preparedness. Enjoy the posts and let us know if you would like additional information or have a topic you would like for us to address.

Posted on July 29, 2011, in collections access, Connecting to Collections, historic houses, historic sites, museums and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. It is an interesting idea, and one I think many people would be interested in, however there is something primeval about a real tattoo and temporary ones will just be a fad.

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