Go-to items for the world's best museums
From membership rewards to exhibit giveaways, top museums turn to Busy Beaver for their merchandise.If you’re looking for that perfect addition to your gift shop or a memorable hand out for guests at the opening of a new exhibit, look no further than buttons. Busy Beaver has a deep appreciation for museums, having had the privilege of working with many to create custom museum buttons for all sorts of occasions.
Custom museum buttons are a staple for the museum going experience. They are sold in gift shops as souvenirs, passed out to visitors as giveaways to mark special occasions, and used as membership exclusive keepsakes. Sometimes, pinback buttons make their way into the art exhibit itself.
Field Museum Membership Gifts
Sometimes your members just want to know that you appreciate them! That’s why The Field Museum dedicates an entire week to its faithful supporters. During that week, the museum offers a range of activities including daily raffles for museum merchandise, and of course — custom buttons! “We wanted to give [members] something fun to take home, so we designed these limited edition buttons showcasing just a few of the objects in our collections (there are over 30 million in total!),” says Jenna Lieblich, the Membership Manager of the Field Museum.
And members loved the custom museum pins! The limited edition buttons not only promoted the museum, they also display the benefits of becoming a member.Make Your Own Custom Museum Buttons >
It's A Boy! Shedd Aquarium Buttons Up
When the Shedd Aquarium welcomed the newest member of their dolphin family, a Pacific White-Sided Dolphin male calf, they decided to use custom buttons as part of the celebration. After six months of acclimating to his new home, it was time to give this calf a name. The team at the aquarium came up with two Hawaiian names—Makoa (meaning fearless) or Kolohe (meaning rascal)— but deciding between the two names was a task the Shedd Aquarium decided to leave up to the public.
The Naming Contest kicked off with a special broadcast from ABC 7 News. The network also hosted a live “dolphin cam” the entire week of the contest to allow viewers to see the personality of this unnamed little one. The public was urged to vote online and to proudly share their decision on social media with the hashtag #NametheDolphin to let everyone know if they're on #TeamMakoa or #TeamKolohe.
Inside the aquarium, a different technique was used to vote. Staff members of the Shedd were encouraged to choose the button with the name they thought best fit the little flipper's personality. The buttons became a talking point not only around the water cooler, but also among the community of aquarium goers as they learned about the contest.
“They are fun for our staff—since there are two names, we had two different buttons made. It has been fun for our staff to “pick sides” and predict the winning name,” said Haley Donahue, Marketing Communications Assistant and the Shedd. At the end of the week-long contest, over 3,500 individuals had cast their vote online and by an overwhelming lead the dolphin calf had a name: Makoa.
The Shedd Aquarium has used buttons in the past as promotional handouts for guests or designed a special button to build buzz around new exhibits. The aquarium also takes advantage of the use of buttons not only to be marine related but also topical. Such as their button for leading up to the Pride Parade which read, “Toadally Proud.” Using these dolphin buttons as a device to decide on a baby's name shows the aquarium's ingenuity and cleverness...and how darn cute that Makoa is!Create Custom Museum Merchandise >
No Dummies Here: Vent Haven Museum Buttons Up!
Much like Busy Beaver is the only known button museum in the world, Vent Haven Museum holds the title of the only museum in the world dedicated to the art of ventriloquism. The museum was founded in 1973 in honor of the late William Shakespeare Berger. W.S. Berger dedicated his life to the art of ventriloquism and bringing together those with similar passions for this craft. The original location in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky houses over 800 ventriloquist figures, photographs, and other memorabilia with the ventriloquism art.
The museum holds a yearly convention, ConVENTion, which brings the community of ventriloquists enthusiasts together for a week of nightly shows, daily workshops, dealer rooms, and keynote lectures. Taking place in mid-July, Vent Haven's ConVENTion rallies an attendance of over 600 enthusiastic ventriloquists from around the world.
The organizers of the show needed a way for new and seasoned attendees to find a way to break the ice on the first day of the conference. At the 2011 convention a button pack was given to each patron upon arrival. There were four button designs total, and each pack gifted included four identical buttons.
"The idea was that you would walk around during the "get acquainted" party and meet new people and see which buttons they had, with the ultimate goal of trading buttons with people until you acquired a full set of the four different character buttons,"said Tom Ladshaw, a member of the Vent Haven Board of Advisors. Five years later and this game is still talked about at every convention. Ladshaw notes.
The ConVENTion also acts as an annual fundraiser for the museum to preserve and protect the integrity of the building and the dolls inside. Since 2013, Vent Haven Museum has utilized the 24k gold buttons for convention-goers to take home a limited edition button. Fifty of the solid gold buttons are ordered with the museum's logo and year and can be purchased with a donation of $20 per button.
The buzz for the golden buttons is created even in the registration line outside of the convention and with 120 times the amount of people as there are buttons at the show, the competition to bring home a golden button is fierce. Each year with fifty buttons sold during the fundraiser earns the museum $1,000 as well as offering a special take away to dedicated fans.
With the livelihood of the dummies, dolls, and memorabilia seen throughout the museum, it is no surprise that the museum strongly encourages the fandom of this art to grow every year with their annual convention. With a simple trade or the commonality of donating to the same cause, buttons help bring people together who have similar interests but may not speak them out loud.
From beginners to pros, the buttons Vent Haven Museum creates help to celebrate W.S. Berger's legacy and the art of ventriloquists.Make Your Own Custom Museum Merchandise >
Installation view, Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall. Brooklyn Museum, May 3, 2019 - December 8, 2019. (Photo: Jonathan Dorado)
Art After Stonewall: How Brooklyn Museum Curated a Space for Reflection
Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall, an exhibit presented by The Brooklyn Museum, is dedicated to and inspired by the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. This six-day clash between police and civilians at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village New York, is widely considered to be an important catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.
The exhibit features twenty-eight LGBTQ+ artists born after 1969 whose works grapple with the unique conditions of our political time. Amongst its contributors is LJ Roberts, a textile artist based out of Brooklyn. Their piece, The Queer Houses of Brooklyn, is a dedication to the vibrant queer community of the borough. It uniquely blends knitted and quilted materials to construct an interactive map complete with one-inch buttons that visitors are encouraged to take with them. We spoke to two of the curators of the exhibit, Carmen Hermo and Lauren Zelaya, to explore the impact and influence of telling this story fifty years later.
The importance of continued activism
LJ Robert’s work is described as a “documentation of a contemporary moment of a thriving, activist political and creative community that practices resilience and resistance through collaboration and cooperative co-existence, kinship and love.” This idea of continued activism was a theme that Carmen Hermo, Associate Curator, found was important to acknowledge when curating the twenty-eight artists that contributed to this series. Confronted with how the Stonewall50 world celebration comes at a time when the country is still dealing with many of the issues combated in 1969– state-sanctioned violence, white supremacy, transphobia, and homelessness— it was important to, in Hermo’s words, “engage the current generation of queer and trans artists grappling with Stonewall’s legacy, and to explore themes of revolt, heritage, desire, and care networks through their visions.”
The significance of the setting
Queer history in Brooklyn runs deep and vast as Brooklyn Museum’s Laurne Zelaya explains: “LGBTQ+ identified people from all over the world call Brooklyn home and have long flocked here to build community and shape the creativity of our borough.” “From the vibrant illustrations of Mohammed Fayaz … to Linda LaBeija’s music and poetry … , everyone’s art serves the purpose of documenting our communities today and shaping our possible futures.”
LJ’s piece further expands this narrative, The Queer Houses of Brooklyn and the Three Towns of Boswyck, Breukelen and Midwout during the 41st Year of the Stonewall Era. (Based on the drawing by Daniel Rosza Lang/Levitsky and with illustrations by Buzz Slutzky), is a knitted map of queer collective spaces accompanied by a unique character name and a symbol. The work “celebrates the existence of chosen and deliberate queer families” making it a living and archival memento of the documented DIY (Do It Yourself) spaces. DIY culture is what inspired Roberts to incorporate the one-inch buttons into the piece, as they were and still are a staple of the DIY mentality and aesthetic.
The exhibition encourages visitors to interact within the space beyond viewing. They can take a pin-back button from LJ’s work and learn the name of one of the queer houses the piece celebrates or attend one of the events in the interactive Resource Room within the space.
Whatever the act, this engagement seeks to deepen how visitors think about their place in history, whether as a member or an ally of the community. Taking a token away can encourage this feeling to persist. Carmen puts it best “As we move past Pride Month and the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall, we want our visitors to feel welcomed and challenged by the queer and trans brilliance on view in Nobody Promised You Tomorrow, and take those lessons to heart as we move into the future.” — Victoria Brosilow
Make Your Own Custom Museum Merchandise >
Custom Buttons are an easy addition to a gift shop! We can get them retail ready with the addition of custom packaging to your order. When merchandising museum gift shops often add the bag and topper or display pack option to give the overall product a more finished appearance. Our buttons are customizable in every way, from size, to shape, to special finish, and even to packaging. If you have a custom button pack idea in mind, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get a quote started!