No Bones About It: The Natural History Museum Offers Licensing Opportunities Beyond Dinosaurs

The Natural History Museum in London will expand its brand to include its library archives, scientists' work and more.

Maxine Lister, senior licensing manager, Natural History Museum in London, is no novice to Brand Licensing Europe. She’s worn several hats: first as a retailer buyer and then as a member of the licensing community. However, 2016 will be the first year that she attends BLE as a member of the Natural History Museum team. For the Museum, the show is a great opportunity to catch up with current licensees and look for prospective new partners, not only from the U.K., but from other territories.

License! Global sat down with Lister to discuss what’s old and new in the way of licensing for the Natural History Museum.

What do you hope to get out of this year’s show? 
I hope to meet new potential licensees and retailers to discuss how the Museum can work with them going forward, as well as demonstrate that there is more to the Museum than people have assumed in the past. I also want to increase our licensing program associated with Wildlife Photographer of the Year. 

What part of the show do you find the most exciting? 
You never know who may turn up at your stand and what the outcome of that conversation could be!    

What’s something surprising about your brand? 
We have 350 scientists that work within the Museum and we are looking to utilize their work in the licensing program. Not to mention a huge range of library archives that we can tap into, including works by Darwin, Bauer Brothers and the Cook Voyages.   

We also have a wealth of gorgeous artwork featuring almost every species you’ve ever heard of and quite a few that you probably haven’t. Some of the hand-colored prints from the 19th century are as bright and vivid now as the day they were painted. In addition, we have truly stunning wildlife photography and incredible 3D scans of some pretty improbable treasures–a mummified cat for example. 

Of course dinosaurs come to mind when we think Natural History Museum. What are you doing to broaden your brand image?
Dinosaurs are a big part of our children’s licensing strategy, but we want to broaden this out into the educational area. We are currently in talks with one licensee regarding green science, which we are very excited about. 

We do have more than 70 million specimens in the Museum to draw inspiration from, with more than 50,000 images within our photo library that can be used as resources and inspiration for creative and design led development in the adult categories. 

What are some of your initiatives for 2017 and beyond? 
We have a huge amount of reference material around major expeditions and are interested in developing an explorer’s range of licensed products celebrating these fantastic endeavors.

We are also looking at the ethical market and are very interested in discussing where the Museum can work with brands within this area. 

Are there any new licensing deals on the horizon that you can tell us about? 
We just signed a new licensee for an interesting project toward the end of the year, but I cannot announce anything yet. We also just renewed Gemma International for our children’s greeting card range, Archivist for our adult card range and are currently in discussions around a new calendar deal.

Any other fun facts about the Natural History Museum that you can share with us? 
Dippy the Dinosaur, who currently is in Hintze Hall, will be going on tour in 2018 and the Hall will then have a blue whale suspended from the ceiling. Both of these events will become part of the licensing program.  

People may know that we do Dino Snores for Children once a month at the Museum, but we also do Dino Snores for Grown Ups, so you can experience the Museum when there are no crowds. During the event you can listen to live music, sample a range of crunchy edible insects, take part in a treasure hunt and see an all-night monster movie marathon. 

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