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Thirty Dozen Doughnuts: Thirty Dozen Taxis
September 29, 2006

George Washington, Abe Lincoln, and Marilyn Monroe handing out goodies to DC taxi drivers

Cultural and Political Icons hand out breakfast to taxi drivers.

If you're a Big City museum and you want your visitors to be able to find you easily, it's a good thing if the cab drivers in your Big City know where you are. So the marketing wizards at SAAM and the National Portrait Gallery orchestrated an event for cabbies yesterday morning.

Taxis driving along F street saw a big sign that said, "Welcome Taxi Drivers, Pick Up Your Free Breakfast and Gifts Here." As they pulled to the curb Marilyn Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, or Andy Warhol handed them goody bags. Each bag contained:

  • a doughnut
  • a travel coffee mug with our name, location, and hours printed on it
  • a coupon for a cup of coffee
  • and most importantly, some information about the museum

I'm not sure everyone knew who Andy Warhol was--he didn't look that different from a GWU grad student--and Lincoln and Washington were quite the figures of dignity and gravitas even while handing out pink bags of doughnuts. We noticed, though, that Marilyn Monroe was the center of attention, which should teach us something about the relative position of politicians, artists, and movie stars/sex symbols in the public imagination, or at least among cabbies.

We had called the major taxi companies ahead of time to let them know about the event and the turnout was superb. There were 360 bags on the curb at 9 a.m., and by 11 a.m. there were none. Not a bad morning for all concerned. Of course, we want taxi drivers to be familiar with our hours and be able to find us quickly and efficiently, but I wonder if any of them will wind up coming to the museum themselves? Maybe they'll want to learn something more about Ms. Monroe?

Posted by Michael Edson on September 29, 2006 in Museum Opening


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