Anne-Marie Hogan is Director of the National Horseracing Museum and explains how the pandemic gave an opportunity to re-examine brand identity and to represent the Museum to increase its appeal for years to come.
I joined the National Horseracing Museum in October 2019 as Head of Finance & Resources and was delighted to be offered the role of Director by the Trustees when Dr Steven Parissien left late last year.
I have been lucky enough to have spent the majority of my working life within the racing industry, having spent my early career specialising in bloodstock accounts for Stud & Bloodstock Agents. I combined this with riding out first lot in Newmarket, before heading to the office and remember many a cold and chilly morning on Warren Hill at this time of year.
A vibrant and relevant resource
The National Horseracing Museum (NHRM) is a unique cultural resource for local communities, for the region and for the nation. NHRM showcases the heritage of horseracing, one of the country’s oldest and best-attended sports, and skilfully combines the history of racing and of Newmarket – the global home of horseracing. We offer exceptional British sporting artworks and explain how former racehorses being retrained for fulfilling new careers. This is all realised in an engaging and entertaining way, which cannot be found anywhere else.
The Museum boasts something for everyone: world-class art, historic buildings, racehorses, sweeping paddocks, two cafés and an outstanding shop. The result is not only a great day out but an unforgettable experience, which places horseracing firmly at the centre of the nation’s story.
The Covid pandemic in 2020 and enforced closure provided an opportunity to re-examine our brand identity and re-appraise our key marketing messages. With the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we engaged a brand consultant to develop the new brand, increase our appeal and rethink our core marketing aims. A new digital outlook and vision involved recalibrating the communication channels and use of social media to include Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok.
Investment paying is off
The relaunch of the Museum, not just as a national showcase, but also as a community asset for Newmarket and the local area certainly hit the mark, with strong engagement in the events we put on in the autumn months. A Farriers Competition on a scorching September day; Halloween Fright Nights in the October half-term for children and adults, plus Christmas Carols in the Kings Yard Palace by Candlelight and the Twelve Days of Christmas provided something for everyone. We offer free admission to all stable staff and run numerous educational workshops for the local schools. Following the success of the family-focused events last autumn, we will run more of these alongside recognising significant events of other faiths in order to appeal to an increasing diverse audience.
Hazel Courtley, our Community Development Manager works closely with the local branch of Dementia UK and we regularly welcome groups to the Museum. All our staff have undergone awareness training to support the needs of those visiting who may be living with Dementia.
Looking ahead to life after Lockdown, we have plenty of plans and ideas for Easter and beyond (hoping we are open for April 1st) with An Easter Bunny trail, Falconry Display, Family Dog Show, Farriers Competition. We have an exciting range of exhibitions, including the reopening of Sporting Talk in The Moller Gallery, which will run to June 2nd followed by “Mud, Sweat & Tears” for the National Hunt fraternity. A Thelwell exhibition is programmed for the end of 2021 and we will also be trialing an online exhibition on Fred Astaire for our digital audience.
We commence refurbishment of the Mews on 1st March, (to be renamed the John Lambton rooms after his generous gift), with completion planned for mid-July. This project will increase our venue hire capabilities to include smaller weddings, events and cinema nights, for those summer months.
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