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Click here to see Mike Hargrove's first visit to the Museum!*
This video was important, because the purpose was to show that art was for everyone, and I had the dubious honor of being chosen Cleveland's least likely person to enjoy art or come to a museum!
-- Mike Hargrove
First Time at Bat
Former Cleveland Indians Manager Mike Hargrove had never been to an art museum before...
I did this as a favor to my wife and was not particularly looking forward to it. I went there with a totally closed mind about liking art and the experience of being in an art museum.
But he scored his first time at bat.
There is nothing stuffy about (the museum) - which really surprised me. Add to that the real professionalism and courtesy of the people at the CMA. I absolutely enjoyed my time there. I think that that came across well in the video.
"We didn't script the video," says Nancy McAfee, the CMA's Manager of Outreach and Audience Development. "Instead, we chose certain works of art for Mike to talk about - the stars of our collection. We gave him a brief overview about each piece and then let him relate to them in his own way. During the shoot, he also responded to several objects that weren't on our list. We stopped and filmed his reactions to these as well. The result was some of the most compelling moments on our video."
There was one portrait of a mother and her child at rest that was so lifelike (William Adolphe Bouguereau's "Rest", 1879), the longer you looked at it you'd swear you could see them breathe. The paintings in that room (CMA's 19th Century Salon Gallery) were my favorite - so was, of course, the Armor Court, which any red-blooded American male would like.
Mike Hargrove, former manager of the Cleveland Indians, takes a video audience on a whirlwind tour of his favorite spots in the Museum.
Photo courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art
Will it Fly?
Given Hargrove's busy schedule, the production company had one day in which to shoot the video. CMA staff stayed glued to the two-camera crew and were involved in the editing process at every stage. The result was a whirlwind, slightly irreverent 12-minute tour of the CMA's collections as seen through the eyes of engaging "everyman" Mike Hargrove.
People later came up to me and wanted to know how I knew so much about the art. They were surprised when I told them I knew absolutely nothing about it. I just liked what I liked and didn't like what I didn't like. The CMA people allowed me the room to say what I wanted.
But I guarantee that, given the diversity of the exhibits, no matter who you are or how limited your understanding of what art is, there is something in the museum that will catch your eye and make you stop.
But would it fly? The late Robert Bergman, CMA Director, had reservations, because the video might have been perceived as taking the museum's collection somewhat lightly. He needn't have worried. The spontaneous laughs that emanated from CMA department heads, trustees, support groups and affiliates during the preview showings quelled his fears. A runaway hit was in the making, and Bergman soon became the video's biggest promoter.
A Real "Blockbuster"
Hargrove's "All-Star Tour" took on a life of its own. A special brochure was printed for the shopping mall display units as well as for the Museum itself. CMA visitors could now follow "Mike's tour," stopping at all of his favorite pieces.
The video didn't just stay in the CMA's shopping mall display units. It received coverage in the press, and, when it did, the manager of Cleveland's Blockbuster video stores asked for copies for every one of his outlets. Then major libraries in the city asked for copies for each of their branches. The CMA even began to sell it in its museum store. Soon, there was a rash of calls from other museums asking for copies of the video. The piéce de resistance, of course, had to be the day it was shown on the Jumbotron at Jacobs Field as thousands of fans waited for the game to resume following a cloudburst.
I had people come up to me and ask me if it was as much fun as I acted like it was, then say that they would now take their kids to the museum. I think it opened some people's minds as far as the CMA is concerned - it certainly made converts out of my wife and I!
An initial outlay of $35,000 for the production yielded remarkable results. Two million viewers saw the television publicity surrounding the video, and an additional 500,000 to one million people read newspaper and periodical accounts. "We received a very high level of market penetration," says McAfee. Indeed, for the CMA, Mike Hargrove's "All Star Tour" was a truly a bases-loaded home run.
The staff at the CMA are fantastic people who care deeply about Cleveland and the people of Cleveland. I absolutely enjoyed doing the project.
View an excerpt from the video*
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