10 Stand-Out Partnerships between Museums and Brands
March 31 2020
By Devon Turner
Creative and commercial have gone hand in hand for many years from Yves-Saint-Laurent and his homage to artist Mondrian or Andy Warhol and his penchant for Campbells soup. This concept isn’t new and can be a perfect way to engage your audience and expand your network.
In the 10 stand-out partnerships listed below, we will showcase fashion accessories inspired by gallery walls, craft beer with an authentic and historic twist and the holiday at the Musée du Louvre you never knew you wanted.
1) Rijksmuseum x SWATCH
SWATCH, the Swiss watchmaking company took inspiration from the gallery walls of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum in 2018. Although SWATCH is well-known for producing eye-catching designs on their products, this was the first time that they used art as a backdrop complete with modern touches. This collaboration was well-received and allowed Rijksmuseum works to be circulated even more widely on wrists across the world.
2) MOMA x Uniqlo
Uniqlo has been working in partnership with New York’s Museum of Modern Art since 2013 to support ‘Uniqlo Free Friday Nights’ and in 2014, they also launched ‘SPRZ NY’, a fashion collection in stores that sported designs from MoMA. This long and fruitful partnership has helped bring more people to the museum as well as the museum to more people; a great example of a win-win partnership scenario!
3) Van Gogh Museum x Vans
These trainers nearly ran off the shelves when they debuted in 2018 alongside jackets, hats and other fashion accessories. The collaboration between Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum and the trendy shoe label Vans was insanely successful with terrific marketing and a targeted approach driven by shared values. Several pieces were purposefully chosen from the Van Gogh’s canon to represent the depth of his artistry—Skull, Sunflowers, Almond Blossom, Self-Portrait as a Painter, Old Vineyard with Peasant Woman. Young people are a target audience for many museums and this collaboration is a terrific example of a well-suited partnership.
4) Museum of Ice Cream x Sephora
The whimsical Museum of Ice Cream has been a hot-spot for the social media-savvy since it opened in 2016 with giant pools full of sprinkles and massive ice cream cones to pose with. In 2018, they announced a collaboration with the international makeup authority Sephora which resulted in a huge success. The online makeup community is massive and intersects with audiences that were regularly coming to the museum and posting on social media. This collaboration took advantage of shared audiences and spoke to them at large with an insanely cute collection.
5) American Museum of Natural History x Etsy
In 2015, New York’s American Museum of Natural History teamed up with online artisan-supported retailer Etsy to debut a bespoke collection themed around the museum’s objects.
Unique items were created with the museum’s contents in mind such as a porcelain iceberg necklace and leather pouches painted to look like bird’s eggs. This partnership demonstrated that the American Museum of Natural History supports individual artisans and wants to offer them new opportunities. In light of many museums choosing to partner up with big fashion houses, this collaboration is a refreshing break.
6) MoCA x Levi’s
Does the denim jacket design below look familiar? If so, that’s probably because it is directly inspired by the work of Keith Haring, a beloved pop/street artist. The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles cleverly planned a partnership with Levi’s to run alongside one of the most extensive exhibitions on street art to date. To mark the occasion, the denim clothier released a limited-edition collection inspired by the artists within the exhibition. This partnership was kicked off on shared ground as street art translated well into denim jackets with them both sharing the same “cool guy” vibe.
7) Field Museum x Chicago Brewseum x Temperance Beer
This unique three-way partnership went over like a cold beer on a hot day… That means well!
Chicago’s Field Museum has a history of collaborations around libations and previously produced dinosaur-themed brews to mark special occasions. However, this boozy partnership between the Field Museum, Chicago’s Brewseum and Temperance Beer Company came together to celebrate the 1893 World’s Fair which had a lasting impact on the landscape of Chicago and occurred the same year as the founding of the Field Museum. This project reflected a true dedication to authenticity with the museum stepping in to help with the historical aspect of brewing including leaning 19th century brewing techniques from objects and digging into the botany of 1893 to provide genuine ingredients.
8) AirBnb x Louvre
In this too good to be true marketing campaign, AirBnb teamed up with Musée du Louvre to provide an experience like no other. This collaboration was centred around a contest that AirBnb ran to provide one lucky winner with a private night at the Louvre complete with a Mona Lisa viewing free of tourists and a tiny glass pyramid room to sleep in next to the giant iconic pyramid. The contest allowed AirBnb to connect with lots of new followers and for Musée du Louvre to have images of their gorgeous museum and collection shouted to all corners of the internet – another win-win!
9) V&A x Coco de Mer
London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is renowned world-wide for being a mecca of art and design. In 2018 they partnered with luxury British lingerie line Coco de Mer to produce a collection that reflects the brands delicacy and sexiness with the extraordinary craftsmanship exhibited within the galleries of the V&A Museum. This seemingly unexpected collaboration ties the V&A in with Coco de Mer’s luxury persona and reciprocally, bestows associates the lingerie brand with the design prestige that’s represented in the letters, V&A.
10) COS x Guggenheim
Fashion brand COS produced a bespoke clothing collection for the opening of the 2016 Agnes Martin’s retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The chic and simple aesthetic reflected in the branding of COS aligns well with the abstract expressionist/minimalist work of Martin and so the pair seemingly fit. This collaboration is another example of the museum world teaming up with the fashion industry in a way that reflects shared ideals.
Wrapping things up
There is a lot of potential for partnership between the museums and commercial sector. Opening up the doors to new audiences and brand association are two reasons to consider giving it a go with an interesting and invested collaborator.
Do you know of some great museum and brand partnerships that deserve a shout-out? We’d love to hear about them, so please let us know about them on Twitter.
About the author – Devon Turner
Devon Turner is an Arts & Culture Writer. She has worked extensively in arts marketing for both the visual arts and performing arts in the US and UK. Now living in London, Devon works in the arts and culture sector and enjoys traveling to visit museums.