Monthly Archives: June 2011

Tell us what you’d like from a Museums at Night travelling roadshow!


A friendly man and woman. They're talented, they're confident, they're knowledgeable, and they could be coming soon to a town near you to spread the Museums at Night joy.

Nick and Rosie are planning to take Museums at Night on the road with regional training workshops

Many of you have told us that you’d like the chance to meet up in person, to network, learn from and share ideas with other venues who took part in Museums at Night. You asked – and we’ve listened! We’re building a case for a fundraising bid that would pay for outreach to key areas where we see evidence that participation levels could increase in 2012.

Would you want a Museums at Night roadshow, starring Project Manager Nick Stockman and me, to visit your area for a day of learning?

We’d invite representatives from council-run and independent museums, galleries, libraries, archives and heritage sites, along with other campaign partners including representatives from local English Heritage, National Trust and Historic Houses Association properties. We’d welcome Town Centre Managers, council representatives, Visit England Destination Managers to represent the local tourism sector, and anyone else who is keen to learn about participating in the campaign.

By bringing together people who have run Museums at Night events before, and people who haven’t, we hope to build stronger local connections and informal

We’d like to gauge demand for this.

1) Would you attend a one-day workshop like this?

2) Where would you suggest we hold a workshop like this?

3) What would be particularly useful for you to learn? What would you like to leave with in terms of resources and knowledge?

If you’re interested, please email me: – and if you can offer us space to hold an all-day workshop in, that would be even better!

Call for guest posts: write an event planning or marketing case study for cultural or heritage venues

Writing a guest post for the Museums at Night behind-the-scenes sector-facing blog can be a great way to talk about your venue and celebrate the work your team does.

The idea is to showcase lots of different voices from museums, galleries and heritage sites, passing on marketing and event planning ideas to inspire other venues who may be considering taking part for the first time.

Considering writing something for us, but looking for inspiration? Perhaps you could share how you planned and marketed your Museums at Night event, along with any tips about things that went well, and ideas for aspects you might do differently next time around.

Do you have to work at a museum, gallery or heritage site to write for us? Not necessarily – take a look at the guest posts other people have written here: We’re also interested in learning from artists, volunteers, reenactors, musicians, caterers, and in fact anyone with an interesting story to tell or recommendations to share about staging successful after-hours events in cultural and heritage venues.

To find out more, or discuss your ideas, email me at, or call me on 01273 623336.

Guest post requirements:

1) 200-350 words, in a chatty, friendly, style

2) A couple of photos of visitors exploring your venue, ideally at night, with the photographer’s credit. We always like to put up photos of people having fun at cultural / heritage venues!

3) A couple of lines about yourself, I’m happy to link to your website / Twitter account / LinkedIn profile etc.

4) A thumbnail-sized photo of you

I look forward to hearing from you!

We need your Museums at Night photos!

Look at these fascinating pictures from the Museums at Night 2011 Flickr group!

Three dancers silhouetted against a green background

Dancers at the Museum of Bath at Work by Julian Lewis

There are lots to enjoy already, but we’re looking for more. Every year we strongly encourage venues who run Museums at Night events to take lots of photos on the night. These are great not only for capturing the excitement of your event, but are also useful for publicity for your venue (when you send out press releases, print or email newsletters, update your website, and put up display boards – having photographic proof of visitors enjoying themselves while discovering your collections in a different light really comes in handy!)

A series of threads stretching across an industrial warehouse

Installation by Susanne Davies at Halmshore Mills Textile Museum, courtesy of Creativity Works

If you took any photos on the night, please share them in our Flickr group: we’re particularly keen to see high-resolution photos showing people engaging with your collections, trying hands-on activities, and generally smiling and having a good time. We like to use these images to publicise the Museums at Night campaign in future – they’ll pop up in numerous channels:

  • the Culture24 website
  • this blog
  • our Facebook page
  • our regular e-newsletters (which you can sign up for here)
  • the Museums at Night evaluation report
  • presentations given by Culture24 staff at conferences
  • our Museums at Night press image library
  • and even the video we’re currently editing for our campaign sponsorship pitch!
Traditionally painted canal art lit by candles

Cans in Candlelight, courtesy the London Canal Museum

I’d also like to thank everyone who took the time to fill in a Museums at Night venue survey – we never imagined that so many of you would be blocked from accessing SurveyMonkey, but we ended up emailing PDFs of the survey questions to people who couldn’t access them online. All your feedback is incredibly helpful, and we’ll be sharing our findings through the campaign evaluation.

And finally, a reminder about our e-newsletters: if you sign up to Culture24’s free Museums at Night mailing list, you’ll receive an email once a month with news of partnerships, campaigns and promotional opportunities you may like to take advantage of, along with ideas and publicity deadlines for Museums at Night 2012 – keeping you in the loop all year round. Sign up here!

Guest post: Artist Ingrid Plum on creating a Museums at Night performance at Phoenix Gallery, Brighton

Today’s guest post comes from artist Ingrid Plum, who performed as part of a Museums at Night event at Brighton’s Phoenix Gallery, and here shares her tips for ensuring a successful event.


I was asked to perform as part of Museums at Night as part of the Phoenix Gallery’s exhibition “Shifting Boundaries”.

A group of visitors exploring a sculpture gallery after dark

The Shifting Boundaries exhibition at Brighton's Phoenix Gallery draws a crowd after dark. Image courtesy of Hugh Fox

The durational performance took place at sunset by candlelight, which marked out the performance area, and lasted 30 minutes. It accompanied my installation “The Letting Go” – I moved around the gallery in slow motion singing long notes, spelling out the words tagging the objects at a speed too slow to be understood.

The silhouette of a woman in a gallery walking a candlelit pathway

A scene from Ingrid's performance in the gallery

It was unusual to perform in a gallery, as I normally make site-specific work. The space highlighted the minimal and calming nature of the performance. During the Q&A afterwards, I found it fascinating how revealing some questions were. It reminded me that as an artist I am balancing the personal nature of work like this whilst allowing space for the audience to bring themselves into it.

It was advertised on the gallery website, through local radio interviews, via e-mail mailouts and via Facebook and Twitter.  The response was very positive and encouraging.  I had been worried that there wouldn’t be enough ‘razmatazz’ with only my performance taking place, but it showed that opening a museum or gallery at night doesn’t have to be an event contrary to the usual environment. It can be an extension of that culturally nurturing and contemplative space we all get to enjoy in a gallery.

A woman surrounded by objects and a framed picture

Ingrid with her installation, The Letting Go. Image courtesy of Hugh Fox

Dos and Don’ts for staging a Museums at Night event:

  • DO make sure you communicate clearly in advance with everyone who will be participating, so no one has any unexpected demands on the night
  • DO take into account what other events are happening locally on that night
  • DON’T expect the same crowd of people you would get in the daytime
  • DO give the audience directions on where they are allowed to go and where they’re not (people generally feel a bit naughty about being in a gallery at night)
  • DO get several types of documentation – photos, video etc:  remember, it’s a one-off performance!
  • DO go on Twitter, Facebook, your own website etc. and publicise the event like mad. Bear in mind you’re asking people to come along to something out of the ordinary – explain what they can expect to see and why they shouldn’t miss it.
  • DON’T serve alcoholic drinks unless you’re prepared to deal with the consequences!
A smiling woman with coloured stickers on her face

Ingrid Plum

Ingrid Plum is a Danish installation and performance artist working with video, sound, sculpture and voice. She is based in Brighton. For more info on Ingrid’s work, please visit

Reflections on museum and gallery marketing and publicity

Quick reminder: we’re closing the Museums at Night venue survey at the end of today so if your museum, gallery, library, archive, or heritage site ran an event, please take 5 minutes to tell us what worked well, and how we could improve next year!

We’re delighted to hear from everyone whose event was a packed-out success, but equally, some of the most interesting responses come from venues that didn’t sell out, or those few unlucky places that had to cancel an event (fewer this year than in previous years – but still an opportunity to learn). If this is relevant to you, then please take a moment to reflect on why you think the event didn’t take off – and what kinds of support Culture24 could offer next year that might make a difference. We need your thoughts too: please fill in as much of the survey as you can!

And now, some interesting promotional ideas from other venues. The Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall have taken to their blog to ask people who visit them to review them on TripAdvisor – a great way of raising a venue’s profile online!

The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney is making good use of their curators’ local knowledge by publishing guided city walking tours as apps. On his blog, Seb Chan explains how the team created the tours, and how they view this new initiative as a way of extending their visitors’ experience of the museum once they leave. If anyone associated with your venue already runs tours, this could be an interesting way of reaching a wider audience.

Finally, Heritage Open Days are sharing all kinds of excellent marketing and publicity tips through their Twitter account – you can follow them here: @heritageopenday

Venues, please fill in the Museums at Night survey now!

Thanks to the 97 people who have filled in the Museums at Night venue survey so far, to tell us how they found the experience, what worked well, what was challenging, and how Culture24 can improve what we offer in future.

However, we really need a minimum of 150 venues to fill in the survey to give us a decent sample size. I’ve sent emails and now I’m making as many phonecalls as I can to remind people about the survey … but please, if you ran an event at your venue, won’t you save me some time and click here to fill in the survey now?

It’ll be open until Monday 20th June – please, whether you feel the campaign was good, bad or indifferent, tell us what you think!

That link again:

Thank you!

Guest post: Charles Potter shares the railway history love from Topsham Museum

Today’s guest post is a case study from a successful Museums at Night event organiser, Charles Potter of Topsham Museum in Devon.


Museums at Night is over for another year – and wasn’t it amazing? It is thought that the final total was 457 events taking place at 352 venues – more than ever before. Here at Topsham Museum everything ran like clockwork on Sunday 15th May too!

Our clockwork train layout was a major attraction for both young and old: 150 visitors joined in this evening event for the third year.

A man dressed as a train conductor demonstrating a model railway

Young and old visitors alike enjoyed discovering the model railway

As the main exhibition in 2011 centres around the 150th anniversary of the Exeter to Exmouth line, it was decided to maintain this theme throughout the evening.

There was a chance to recall the days of steam with Francis Luscombe and Mike Trout who talked of the line from the station to the Quay and the fight to keep the line to Exmouth during the ‘Beeching’ era!

Continuing the railway theme, music played was provided by the Saxation Quartet who are part of the Lympstone Band. Many toes were tapping as a crowd gathered round in the garden.

4 saxophone players under a gazebo

The Saxation Quartet provided a musical accompaniment to the evening

As a finale, an enthusiastic audience gathered in the Tea Room to listen to poems, again with the railway theme, written by Auden, Betjeman and T.S. Eliot.  These were read with great feeling by Eric Hume, Myra Green, and Maggie Butt.

Three people reading aloud from folders

A trio of poetry readers at Topsham Museum

So, where do we go next year? With 2012 being the year of the Olympics, we’re planning the theme of Sport!

Charles Potter is Audience Development Officer for Topsham Museum.

See you in Brighton this Friday, Museums Computer Group people!

If you’re a member of the Museums Computer Group, we’re all looking forward to welcoming you to C24 Towers in Brighton at the Spring Meeting which we’re co-hosting this Friday, June 17th – and it’s not too late to book your place!

A closeup of freesia flowers

A subtle hint. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Glenn Franco Simmons under a Creative Commons licence


Friday is also my birthday, and, on an unrelated note, my favourite flowers are freesias, and I prefer milk chocolate.

Subtle hint over – normal announcement resumes.



Culture24 Director Jane Finnis has put together a really interesting programme: full details are below, courtesy of Ross Parry.

Join the conversation with ACE, BSKYB, Google, Artfinder, Clearleft, Lighthouse and The Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove.

‘Go Collaborate’ – MCG Spring Meeting in partnership with Culture24

Friday 17th June 2011
9.45am to 5pm (arrival from 9.30am)
28 Kensington Street, Brighton, BN1 4AJ

Book your place:

Now – perhaps more than ever – is a moment for the museum sector to look outwards and see the opportunities for collaboration.

At a time when the sector’s governance is being re-shaped, the funding landscape re-formed and individual services and institutions restructured, the drive for joint ventures and partnership have become more relevant than ever.  In particular it is co-operation with the wider arts sector and with the commercial world that seem to demand attention and offer exciting possibilities for everyone.

Alert to this, Culture24 have brought together professionals from across the creative industries to reflect upon and share their experience of working digitally with cultural sector partners. Through a series of roundtable discussions, this day-long meeting will explore some of the evolving models for online collaboration and discuss the existing and perceived barriers and divisions between different sectors and the public/private worlds.

Those in conversation will include:

Andrew Nairne, Executive Director, Arts, Arts Council England

Gill Johnson, Director, Broadcasting & Digital, Arts Council England

Honor Harger, Director, Lighthouse

Kevin Bacon, Digital Development Officer, The Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove

Spencer Hyman, CEO & Founder, Artfinder

Andy Budd, Director of user experience, Clearleft

Laura Scott, EMEA External Relations, Google

Freya Murray, Senior Arts Executive, BSKYB

Alyssa Bonic, Arts Manager, BSKYB

Jane Finnis, Director, Culture24

There will also be a special trip to Brighton Museum with their new Digital Development Officer Kevin Bacon. This will include complimentary tickets to the ‘Radical Bloomsbury‘ exhibition.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

Become an MCG member now (for FREE) and save 50% on registration for this meeting:

Register for ‘Go Collaborate':

Latest details and programme for ‘Go Collaborate':

Hope to see you there!

Urgent: Please tell us how we can improve Museums at Night 2012!

I’m back at my desk now after a well-deserved break, and it’s wonderfully heartening to see all the feedback rolling in from Museums at Night venues and visitors. Thanks to everyone who’s filled in a venue survey form – we’re already learning a lot. The survey link is here:

Perhaps the most surprising responses have come from Mill Meece Pumping Station in Staffordshire: among their reasons for participating in the campaign was the pragmatic “Boiler already up to pressure for annual safety valve test, therefore minimal cost”. We’re also happy to hear that running their Museums at Night event “paid for coal used for the annual safety valve check”.

Did your event have any unusual outcomes, positive or negative? What kinds of marketing did you do, how many volunteers were involved, and how many visitors came along? How would you rate Culture24’s work – do our e-newsletters come too often, or not often enough? What extra resources would be useful to you next year? We really want to do our job more effectively and be more helpful to you, while growing the campaign ever larger and devising new promotional opportunities – and this is your chance to reflect and share your views.

Our current sample size isn’t big enough to be useful for the independent evaluation of the campaign yet: although Museums at Night events took place at 352 venues across the UK, so far only 88 venues have completed the survey. We particularly need to hear from galleries for our report to Arts Nation.

If you haven’t already filled out a survey form it’s quick and easy to do: just click on this link and it should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.

We use the data from the surveys to compile a thorough evaluation report which contains statistics on the campaign: case studies; quotes from leading stakeholders; evidence of growth, reach, development and capacity building and evidence from the visitor survey. It really is an essential document which we use it for advocacy, partnership building and fundraising.

It is clear already that the campaign has grown significantly this year but we need a richer, more in-depth view of what is a complex multi-layered project.

Please help us to sustain the campaign – your feedback helps to secure funding by providing a robust evidence base and will be essential in securing sponsorship for next year’s campaign!

The word HELP written with a torch in the darkness

Please help us by filling in an evaluation form! Photo courtesy of Flickr user Rainier N under a Creative Commons license.

If you ran a Museums at Night event, please take a few minutes to fill in our venue survey:

Thanks very much!

Guest post: Chris Pensa on the day Love Art London met Michael Landy

For the first time ever, Culture24 ran a joint Facebook competition to raise awareness about Museums at Night together with Love Art London. Chris Pensa describes the experience of the competition winners as they met artist Michael Landy.

LAL Logo


If you’ve ever found yourself wandering through the ordinarily bustling streets of London’s west end at 8:30am on a Saturday morning it’s a remarkable experience I highly recommend. No, I wasn’t wending my way home after a heavy night on the tiles rather en route to the National Portrait Gallery to meet one of my all time heroes, the artist Michael Landy. A key player in the YBA movement, Landy shot to fame in 2001 for Break Down, a performance installation in which he destroyed every single one of his worldly possessions, all 7,227 of them, from gas bills to the clothes on his back, even artworks given to him by his famous friends like Damien Hirst. Michael arrives bang on time wearing some oversized sunglasses to disguise his jet lag. He’s just returned from New York where his partner, the artist Gillian Wearing, was installing her new solo show entitled People. A running theme in the Landy/Wearing household given we’ve met at the NPG to talk about his Art World Portraits.

Michael & May

The 25 competition winners we invited to join us arrived punctually with mouths a frothing, not least about meeting Michael but also about having the entire NPG to themselves before the public flood in. At 9am the security guards opened the back door and we were huddled in. After a brief introduction the crowd got stuck straight in with questions. The first paw in the air wanted to know if Michael could remember what the first possession he acquired in his new ‘post Break Down’ life was. The artist confessed with a wry smile that within five minutes of the installation ending someone handed him a Paul Weller CD. So random you couldn’t make it up.

Considering Michael’s work usually requires an enormous investment of physical labour, could the twelve finely rendered pencil sketches in front of us be read as a spot of light relief? Nope. Michael told us these were part of a larger body of drawings of his friends and family executed back to back for over a year. Eight hours a day. Seven days a week. His obsessive, immersive practice is still there, the viewer just has to work a little harder to access it. Michael explained how in each portrait he started with the left eye. This almost superstitious routine reminded me of the England cricketer Jack Russell who would always put his left sock and shoe on before his right. If he didn’t all hell would break loose. Michael assured us he wasn’t a conspiracy theorist but “the left eye just felt like the right place to start.”

Given that he requires as much from his sitters as he gives of himself, Michael’s subjects become willing accomplices in his ritualistic creative self-flagellation. I ask him what the experience is like for them. “I work very closely to my subject’s face, sometimes only a foot away, sometimes people are uncomfortable at first, having someone starring at them so closely, but generally they acclimatise pretty quickly. Some people fidget, some listen to Radio 4, some drink a lot of tea. I remember one sitter was very particular about his tea, insisting the tea bag was not to be squeezed, ever.” I asked what characteristics make an ideal sitter. “I like people who surrender themselves to the cause and allow me to bully them into position. To get the best out of a sitter I really need to bully them.” It says a great deal about Michael that despite these openly pseudo-masochistic confessions every member of the audience was secretly desperate to volunteer. I mentioned I’d seen an interesting short film showing the artist at work sketching the Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark. I quipped that he’s practically straddling her. Michael laughs this suggestion off, insisting it’s all above board and integral in order for him to access the essence of his subject.


And before we knew it, our time with Michael was coming to an end. With only a few minutes left we had time for one last question. A hand was raised and the following words were uttered, “Michael, where did you get your trousers?” The answer that came straight back was “Paul Smith.” And that seemed like a perfect place to end our time with the legendary Michael Landy. High fives were liberally distributed and the artist disappeared to pick up his dog, May, who’d been staying with his mum whilst he and Gillian were in New York. An hour in the company of greatness is a rare and beautiful thing.

Gillian Wearing

Michael Landy's sketch of his wife Gillian Wearing

To find out more about Love Art London and sign up to our membership programme, visit:

Michael Landy’s Art World Portraits are on display at the National Portrait Gallery until 17 July.