Smithsonian Institution


Situation / Challenge

The National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) is America’s most-popular museum, hosting more than 7.6 million visitors each year. Its 100-year legacy, world-famous artifacts like the Hope Diamond, and a scientific community numbering in the thousands, make NMNH an authoritative voice for understanding our natural world. NMNH is also a public institution with a responsibility to respect how it uses taxpayer funds, protect its global reputation in the sciences, and support one of the world’s greatest brands – The Smithsonian Institution.

NMNH wanted to dedicate a large space to engage teens more deeply in exploring their natural world – part of a national effort by many institutions to improve America’s standing in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies. Sage worked with partner D*MNGOOD to help launch a new teen-targeted experience called Q?rius (pronounced curious) where teens could explore their interests side-by-side with Smithsonian staff, and use real-life scientific equipment to conduct explorations very similar to what actual scientists do in the field.

Our Strategic Approach

Working from our own research, we created a new brand and messaging, developed fantasy CGI illustrations to capture the Q?rius experience, wove the design through dozens of on-site and off-site promotions and out-of-home advertising. Additionally, we designed and executed a unique flash-mob-style event to support the launch week.


Our offsite campaign components created over 3.5 million print impressions and 27 million transit impressions over their first four months in market. Onsite, our promotions helped drive almost 65,000 afternoon visitors (more than 6 percent of all available traffic) to Q?rius — increasing overall museum visit times, and creating newfound exposure for a previously unused space.