OB Brand Consulting have been working with the Insurance Museum as their key brand and marketing partner since 2018. Beyond shaping the original IM proposition, OB were instrumental in creating the IM’s very first digital exhibition – ‘Fire! Risk & Revelations’, focused on the history of fire insurance.
We asked OB’s Director Jonathan Squirrell, and Account Manager Sarah Begley, for their thoughts on this milestone project for the Insurance Museum.
Q. Was the plan always to create a digital exhibition?
The long-term aim of the Insurance Museum has always been to have a physical museum based in London EC3. During the pandemic however, we had to adapt. People were told to stay at home and it was not viable to create a physical museum at that time, therefore an accessible online version was a sensible next step”.
Q. Why was fire insurance chosen as the first exhibition?
“This is an important story to tell and conveniently links to the Great Fire of London which is a familiar part of school education”.
“The Great Fire of London ignited the creation of fire insurance globally, when Dr Nicholas Barbon, an extraordinary entrepreneur, created a fire insurance office initially to protect his growing property empire – it soon took off and other entrepreneurs and philanthropists followed in his footsteps”.
Q. What’s the process for producing the online galleries for the Insurance Museum?
“Once it was decided that the first gallery would focus on fire insurance, the initial priority was to decide how best to tell the story. This involved creating a content framework, extensively researching the subject and making contact with collectors and experts in their field”.
“Developing the content involved lots of reading and researching, making calls and visits to collectors and specialists to get video footage, and visiting collections for photo shoots. We also had to source costumes, write scripts, and find actors for IMTV videos”.
Q. How many people are involved in creating the galleries and what part do they play?
“We had a small but dedicated team focused on the different aspects of the gallery production which included project management, research, writing, production co-ordinating, creative, design, website build, video direction and editing”.
“But the galleries wouldn’t have been possible without the contributions from the experts in their field, this included Robin Pearson, Ron Long, Roy Rice, Brian Wright, Brian Sharp and Brian Henham who helped us flesh out the story and were willing to give up their time for us to turn up with our film crew for the day to interview them”.
“Archivist, Anna Stone provided us with access and knowledge of the Aviva Group Archives and Pete Zymanczyk helped bring the stories to life in his role as tour guide. Of course, we also had a film crew, photographer, game designer and actors who all played their part in creating the content to make it varied and engaging for the audience”.
Q. Who are the exhibitions aimed at and what audiences are you trying to engage?
“The exhibitions are aimed at anyone who has an interest in history or insurance. But more specifically we are hoping school children will enjoy and learn from the gallery and we hope to expand the knowledge of the sector for students, many of whom will only associate insurance with the TV meerkats and opera singers that they’ve grown up with”.
“People working in insurance have immense pride in the profession they work in, so we also hope that they will benefit and learn more about the sector they are a part of”.
“Of course, we hope the exhibition will be of interest to the general public. All our lives are touched by insurance in some way and these galleries will give insurance the opportunity to show just how important it has been in affecting our lives in ways most people will not even be aware of”.
Q. What’s the most exciting part about bringing these galleries to life?
“Most people will probably have never thought of insurance as even having a history or a “story”. Ask most people what they think of insurance, and they’ll probably call it “boring” and most likely resent needing it. We are hoping these galleries will reverse any negative impression and encourage people to learn and find out more”.
Q. Will this online exhibition ever be created into a physical exhibition?
“Yes, the Insurance Museum Charity plans continue for a mini-museum and for a permanent physical museum in EC3 in London, the global heartland of insurance. We know from our earlier proposition and feasibility work that there is a lot of support for the IM concept, this is also reflected by the growing membership numbers and social media engagement”.
“There is a great story to tell and having visitors come to see the objects on display and interact with them would be an important part of the gallery experience”.
Q. What’s your plan for the next exhibition and when will this launch?
“The IM are reviewing subject areas for the next online exhibition. There are so many fascinating stories still to share in the history of insurance, including those concerning marine, art and motor insurance, celebrities and how insurance may be impacted by future challenges such as climate change and new technology including space and AI”.
“Nearly every part of our life is impacted in some way by insurance. So there is a lot of content to curate, interpret and share with diverse audiences. We know that the Insurance Museum can deliver an incredibly valuable resource and a story that should be accessible and shared more widely… so there is quite a journey ahead”.

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