VSA, Museum of Science and Industry reignite curiosity

These days, with so many of us seemingly caught up in what selfie to post, Beyoncé, The Real Housewives or whether or not Kellyanne’s eye luggage has gotten puffier, the topic of science feels pushed to the side. Some would even say it feels trite right now.

Which seems strange given that we have a never-ending stream of talk about rising ocean levels, populations, disease and even more.

There’s even the popular Facebook page, “I F*cking Love Science” that gets thousands of reposts. But have everyday people just grown tired of the topic of science, rejected it or are they just not curious anymore?

VSA environmental enhancements to the Museum of Science and IndustryThe Chicago Museum of Science and Industry wants to change that. The 84-year-old institution not only hopes to bring science back into our everyday conversations and lives, but has set out on a noble mission to re-ignite our curiosity about the how’s and why’s things happen.

“With the increased public discourse around science and scientific discovery, we believe it’s critical to reignite our collective sense of curiosity by questioning the world around us,” says MSI’s chief marketing officer, Matt Simpson.

He added, “The Museum — and the world at large — is filled with life-changing examples of the good that comes from asking ‘why’ and ‘what if,’ and we’re excited to continue to serve as a place where curiosity lives and find new ways for it to be rewarded and celebrated.”

“Long Live Curiosity,” is a brightly-colored, imaginative, thought-provoking campaign that launched in mid-July via Chicago agency VSA Partners. Reflecting the museum’s interactive nature, the media envelopes us in OOH, radio, print and digital that makes us think again.

And that’s by design, according to VSA’s partner and ECD of three years, Bob Winter.

“Growing up in Chicago everyone has a special place in their heart for MSI, but most have lost touch and filed it away. We all felt like going in that we as a people are missing that feeling of being on fire with the imagination and curiosity that the museum offers.”

Winter added, “We walked through (the museum) with fresh eyes and all walked out… talking. The museum had this effect on us as human beings. What if we held ourselves to that mission and tried to provoke people? We started working on the campaign from that angle.”

VSA's environmental work on State St.VSA Partners, which has a rich history as a design studio, seemed like the perfect shop to bring this kind of campaign to life. Winter described how the agency’s belief system is to put the user at the center of the messaging – to really think of a campaign from their point of view.

Winter says that by thinking of the issues facing an audience or target member, it helps create an effective communication more than say, a traditional advertising brief.

So far, the approach has proven to be successful. People are noticing, talking and getting curious. According to Winter, Chicagoland teachers are even asking for a copy of the manifesto which ran as a print ad and if the museum would be up for developing a school program.

The work will run through late summer, with the new brand positioning to drive long-term campaign efforts. The agency is now working on a holiday campaign and ways to extend the current messaging. The goal is to become the epicenter of interesting conversations and debates. They are well on their way.


Bob Winter, Executive Creative Director

Tohru Oyasu, Creative Director

Rainer Schmidt, Creative Director

Denison Kusano, Creative Director

Lisa Plachy, Copywriter

Joe Nio, Director of Strategy

Jessica Sochol, Strategy

Melissa Keller, Project Manager

Adam Brown, Client Engagement

Follow Colin Costello on Twitter @colincostello10.