In 2016, American Express Foundation selected Federal Hall National Memorial and the National Trust as a recipient of a $50,000 grant to build awareness and increase public engagement. The 15-month campaign ran from September 2015–November 2016.
Located on Wall Street in the heart of New York City’s Financial District, Federal Hall is a nationally significant site for its deep association with the founding of American democracy and is a prominent visual landmark for the 15 million yearly visitors to the Wall Street area, yet very few walked through the front doors or visited the free museum. Most visitors sat on the steps and took a picture of the statue of George Washington—but didn’t engage with the site much beyond that. Visitors were missing out on one of the great publicly accessible interior spaces in Manhattan.
The National Trust Creative team developed a plan to activate this important place using both the exterior and interior in strategic ways. A dramatic overlay of words and phrases that reflected the complex history was applied across the iconic steps to get people inside. Further clues were added to large, oversized banners that hung down from the top of the building. To enhance the visitor experience, way-finding signage was developed and an interpretive guidebook with a pull-out map was designed and provided to each visitor.
Visitor increase was extraordinary:
Total visitors 2015: 152,946
Total visitors 2016: 251,281
The banners were so successful in attracting visitors that they were left in place for another full year beyond the campaign extending brand outreach and awareness to an additional 15 million.