Author Archives: Culture24

Guest Post: Phillippa Heath on the student panel running a 1951 Vintage Night at MERL

In todays guest post, Phillippa Heath, Public Programmes Manager at the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), talks about how their Museums at Night event this year has been handed over to the students to run.


For Museums at Night the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) is going back to its roots by celebrating the Museum’s foundation and running a 1951 Vintage Night. The event which will be held on Saturday, 17th May will include live music, dancing, stalls, craft & vintage cocktails.

The difference this year is that we have handed over the reins to a group of students!

Developing a Student Steering Panel

Our Museums at Night events have always embraced the ethos which underpins the festival - to encourage new audiences into museums and galleries – and this year we wanted to run an event which would focus on one particular group of visitors we are keen to encourage to visit more: University students. As a University Museum we work with students in many ways academically, but they are very much underrepresented in our audience profile for events.

This was confirmed by visitor research carried out whilst preparing the Activity Plan for our recently submitted ‘Our Country Lives’ Heritage Lottery project bid. As a result, we have identified students as one of key target audiences for future activity.

Looking down at a group of feet in 1950s shoes

Modelling vintage style shoes at MERL Reading. Photo courtesy Museum of English Rural Life.

In order to test the water and see what it takes to create successful student event, we have recruited the help of a Student Steering Panel for our Museums at Night event. They are a group of incredibly passionate and enthusiastic individuals who have been involved at every stage of the organisation and planning of the event.

History student Lucy Reddy (@indianacroft) who is leading on our social media said “I’m excited about reviving the fun spirit of the 1950′s for one night and giving students the chance to have an alternative evening in a setting that will definitely be a talking point! We’re still offering those timeless essentials that we all love – food, drinks and dancing – but finally there’s an acceptable reason pull out those petticoats or polka dots and Jive all night!”

A group of people standing in a museum looking at the camera

The student panel in the Museum, photo courtesy Museum of English Rural Life.

Developing event planning and management skills

Since January the panel has met every two weeks and we have been joined by guest speakers from the Museum and the local community who have shared their expertise of events management and planning, from marketing to the specifics of running Vintage events.

The meetings have been facilitated by myself and Rob Davies, our Volunteer Coordinator, but as far as possible we have left the decisions up to the students. In order to run the event effectively, the students divided themselves into different groups with different areas of responsibility including marketing, entertainment, catering, decorations and props, research and operations.

Two women sitting at a table with a red and white spotty table cloth, writing on paper

Two members of the panel at a meeting, photo courtesy Museum of English Rural Life

Juliet Wilson, who has been researching the first objects the museum acquired in 1951, says: “I’m really looking forward to showing off MERL in a different light, using the first acquisitions to tell the story of the development of such an amazing museum…alongside drinks and dancing!”

To share ideas and to keep in touch in between meetings, the panel members have set up a Facebook group which has proved to be a great method of communication. This is particularly important as the students are continuing to work on the event despite having dispersed across the country for the Easter vacation.

We have had a lot of fun along the way. Our most recent venture was recording a promotional video for the event.

Members of the Student Panel came clad in their 1950s frocks and, thanks to donated props from local businesses Alexandra Vintage and Frock’n’Roll, they worked with Rob Davies to use the Museum spaces and props to develop a storyline for the trailer. We even managed to rope our Assistant Curator and Operations Manager into learning to dance!

Men and women dancing together

Dr Ollie Douglas, Assistant Curator and Mat Binks, Operations Manager getting a dance lesson. Photo courtesy Museum of English Rural Life

We hope that this event will be the first of many that we work on with the student panel. We have learnt a lot about what students want out of an event and how they choose which events to go to and we hope that the experience has been useful for the students too.

The collaboration has been great so far and we are now very much looking forward to the event itself!

Further details are available on our website at http://www.reading.ac.uk/merl/whatson/merl-specialevents.aspx


Woman smiling with dark hairPhillippa Heath is the Public Programmes Manager at the Museum of Rural Life.

 

 


Thank you, Phillippa!

If you’d like to write a guest post or share a case study about any aspect of audience development, event planning or marketing in the arts and heritage sector, please email rosie@culture24.org.uk.

Notes to Editors: press release boilerplate text for Museums at Night 2014

I’ve just had an enquiry from a venue sending out press releases to promote their event, who wanted to know whether there was any specific information to include about the Museums at Night festival.

Our standard boilerplate text explains what the Museums at Night festival is, and introduces Culture24 (the non-profit online cultural publisher that coordinates the festival) and Arts Council England, the core funder of the festival.

Here’s the Notes to Editors text: you can also download this as a 1 page Word document.

Notes to Editors:

1. Museums at Night is the annual after-hours festival of arts, culture and heritage when hundreds of museums, galleries, libraries, archives and heritage sites open their doors for special evening events. It takes place over the weekend of Thursday 15 to Saturday 17, 2014. www.museumsatnight.org.uk

2. Culture24 is a non-profit cultural publishing organisation supporting arts and heritage venues to reach audiences across digital platforms. We collect and share cultural data, publish websites, run the national Museums at Night campaign and lead action research projects. www.WeAreCulture24.org.uk

3. Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2011 and 2015, we will invest £1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk

Museums at Night logo

You can also download many variations on this Museums at Night logo - along with poster and flyer templates you can customise to promote your events – over on our Resources for Venues page.

If you have any questions, please call Rosie on 01273 623336 – we’re here to help!

Guest post: Ella Lewis-Collins on a night of drama at the Jerwood Gallery

Our latest guest post comes from Ella Lewis-Collins, and looks at how a change of plans meant the Jerwood Gallery had to rethink their Museums at Night event idea … and what they’ll be offering visitors instead.

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Last year, the Jerwood Gallery won the Chapman Brothers in the Connect10 competition for an event during the Museums at Night festival. Our evening with the Chapmans consisted of a party with a giant game of consequences.

Adults drawing on a large piece of paper on the ground

Jake Chapman leading Exquisite Corpse drawing session at the Jerwood Gallery (c) Pete Jones

Participants made hideous, amusing and often obscene ‘exquisite corpses’ on 6 foot pieces of paper, passing them around to strangers to complete, with Jake Chapman jumping in and helping people add weird and wonderful details to their creations.

A group of people in an art gallery looking at a large drawing

Visitors looking at an Exquisite Corpse artwork with Jake Chapman (c) Pete Jones

This was so much fun that we decided we had to go for another artist in the competition this year. We picked the photographer Spencer Tunick with the hope of bringing him to Hastings for a mass participation nude shoot on Hastings fishing beach.

Our campaign to win Spencer was one that got lots of support – the wonderful people of Hastings and beyond got behind the ‘Vote Jerwood, Vote Hastings’ campaign and we even had a flash mob strip completely naked on Hastings beach to help promote the vote, which made international news!

Nude flashmob on Hastings Beach, image courtesy Ciaran McCrickard / Connors

Nude flashmob on Hastings Beach, image courtesy Ciaran McCrickard / Connors

Despite almost doubling the number of votes that we got last year, it sadly wasn’t to be and George House Gallery, Folkestone won Spencer. After we found out that we hadn’t won Spencer, we didn’t want the opportunity of doing something for Museums at Night to pass us by. The tricky thing was working out to do instead.

Devising a new event idea

A few members of the team got together and we decided what we wanted was to create a gallery experience which allowed visitors to explore the gallery in a completely new way. We wanted it to have a distinctive evening atmosphere and we wanted people to remember ‘that time we went to the Jerwood Gallery’. Essentially something atmospheric, unique and creative. So then we thought of the Baron…

A man in a hat with his shadow silhouetted

Baron Gilvan (c) Kipperklock Photography

The Baron is a wonderful, slightly dark and magical character who we had the pleasure of working with when we celebrated the gallery’s first birthday in March last year. He transformed the gallery’s studio into ‘The Baron’s Art School’ for the weekend and took families on a magical journey – following the character of ‘Christina the Astonishing’ in a performance workshop incorporating painting, puppetry and animation. The event sold out and was hugely popular with both children and adults.

We approached the Baron’s creator, Chris Gilvan-Carwright, to see if he would like to work for us on a special commission for Museums at Night this year. We met with Chris and Isobel Smith of Grist to the Mill, a puppeteer who often collaborates with the Baron on his performance projects, at the gallery.

Tips on working with performance artists

It’s hugely important when planning these sort of performative events that those who are delivering the performance can get a sense of the space. This is not only for practical reasons but because so often the space and the art on the walls provides new inspiration.

Chris came up with the idea of running a Baron’s Art School in which participants journey into the paintings, transporting the audience into another world. This provides the audience with a completely new way of looking at and experiencing art in the gallery; the activities will also make them active participants rather than passive observers to the works on the walls.

A character with a funnel on his head performing with small objects

The Baron’s Art School (c) Kipperklock Photography

I really believe if you find the right performer, then the best thing to do is trust them with the development of the performance or the event. Whilst practicalities need to be considered by the venue, it’s usually best to allow the artists to work and get their creative juices flowing – the event will be all the better as a result.

Marketing the mysterious 

In terms of marketing the event, I wanted to convey a sense of excitement and anticipation. I did this through providing snippets of enticing information without giving too much away. There’s more excitement if there’s a bit of mystery!

I always try to listen to the words that the artist or performer uses to describe their work in order to help me develop the marketing copy. Sometimes even writing down verbatim (or recording – with their permission) what they say in planning meetings can be incredibly useful, as their passion and enthusiasm for what they do really comes across and helps to enthuse the audience too.

Images are also hugely important. People find it a lot easier to imagine themselves at an event if they have a visual sense of what it will be like. This can be tricky if a similar event hasn’t taken place before, however some sort of image conveying the atmosphere of the event is essential. Fortunately Chris had a number of great shots from previous events with the Baron, which we were able to use.

I think this year’s Museums at Night with the Baron will be a magical one. Our event – The Baron’s Art School presents Bringing Painting to Life – will take place on Friday 16 May. Tickets cost £15, and you can find out more about the event here: http://www.jerwoodgallery.org/whatson/events/79/the-barons-art-school

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A girl wearing a hatElla Lewis-Collins is the Communications and Marketing Manager at Jerwood Gallery. She joined the gallery in January 2012, prior to the gallery opening in March 2012. Before this Ella worked at FEI, an arts consultancy company. She has an MA in the Reception of the Classical World from UCL. You can follow Ella on Twitter @ellalc, and the Jerwood Gallery @jerwoodgallery.

 

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Thanks, Ella!

If you’d like to write a guest post or share a case study about any aspect of audience development, event planning or marketing in the arts and heritage sector, please email rosie@culture24.org.uk.

Press Release: Museums at Night 2014 kicks off major new BBC Arts strand

Museums at Night logo

Culture24 are proud to announce that Museums at Night, the UK’S annual night-time festival of arts, heritage and culture, is to be the opening subject of the new topical arts strand, BBC ARTS at…

Coverage of the Museums at Night festival, which takes place over the weekend of Thursday May 15 – Saturday May 17, 2014, will be broadcast from museums and galleries across England, Wales, and Scotland with BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz presenting an hour-long programme on BBC Two.

BBC Arts Online will host exclusive coverage including a live stream of key events featuring leading contemporary artists at venues across the country, along with highlights from the BBC archive. There will be coverage of the event on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show (BBC Radio 2) and The Verb (BBC Radio 3) as well as regional and local news across the BBC.

Launching in May, BBC ARTS at will give audiences a front row seat at cultural events across the year – exhibitions, performances, festivals – showcasing the energy and excitement of Britain’s vast cultural landscape when and where it happens. This ambitious new strand will, for the first time, bring TV, radio and online together under a single banner, BBC ARTS at…

Two boys writing on a whiteboard

Visitors at an installation by artist Alex Hartley, who will appear at Market Hall Museum in Warwick for Museums at Night 2014

Jane Finnis, CEO, Culture24 says, “On behalf of the hundreds of museums, galleries and heritage venues that take part in Museums at Night, Culture24 are absolutely delighted that the BBC are using this unique festival to launch its new topical arts strand. The coordinated cross-platform coverage will significantly raise the profile of the festival, giving millions of people the chance to get involved and highlighting the amazing work going on inside our arts and heritage institutions – above all emphasizing the importance of Museums at Night as the UK’s annual festival of culture.”

A group of people in a glowing room looking through telescopes

Visitors discovering the telescopes at Armagh Planetarium after hours (c) Armagh Planetarium

The Museums at Night festival offers the chance to experience culture and heritage in a totally unexpected way. Over three nights in May, hundreds of museums, galleries and historic spaces all over the UK will open up late and putting on a dazzling array of special night-time events: from unique literary talks in castles to star gazing in historic houses; sleepovers in palaces to city-wide culture crawls; bands playing in amongst museum exhibits to science fiction life drawing in galleries.

Now in its sixth year, the Museums at Night festival ties in with the European initiative La Nuit des Musees. It is run by non-profit cultural publisher Culture24 and designed to attract new audiences into museums and galleries, via a whole range of exciting experiences and events.

Museums at Night is funded by Arts Council England.

For further information and images please contact: Pandora George, Bullet PR, pandora@bulletpr.co.uk or tel: 01273 775520 or 07729 469220

Want Davy and Kristin McGuire glowing art installations for Museums at Night?

If you have space in your venue, and would like a small-scale magical installation to bring it alive for Museums at Night and beyond, you may be interested in our latest event offer.

The artists

Davy and Kristin McGuire are award-winning multidisciplinary artists whose critically acclaimed theatrical projects and projection mapping installations have been invited to tour to more than 13 different countries over 3 continents.

“The couple have built up a formidable following for their unique aesthetic, which combines cutting-edge projection work with traditional, delicate paper models” – Metro

“Magical and exquisitely crafted, Kristin and Davy McGuire’s miniature model universe is full of visual wonders” – The Guardian

We are extremely lucky to be able to offer four of the McGuires’ breathtaking installations to museums or galleries for Museums at Night. The McGuires are happy for venues to continue to exhibit their work beyond the festival weekend as well.

The four available pieces are The Hunter, The Haunted Dress, Sprite Symphony and Psycho. Two of them were developed for the RSC. They are all magical and bewitching installations that will delight both adults and children alike.

Each piece has its own soundtrack so would need a room of its own or a separate space to reach full potential.

The Hunter

The Hunter is an intricate paper diorama that comes to life through projected animations, music and sound effects. When the intricately cut paper model illuminates, tiny shadow figures seem to appear behind the diorama in order to depict a silent fable about the cruelty of human conduct and the ability to repent our actions. The Hunter is a gallery installation that tells a 15 min narrative on a loop for a maximum of 10 people at a time.

The Hunter (Theatrical Installation) from Davy and Kristin McGuire on Vimeo.

The Hunter Venue Requirements
A totally blacked out, sound insulated room.
The installation is 1,80 wide, 1m deep and 70 cm high.

a glowing paper house

The Hunter (c) Davy & Kristin McGuire

We would need a 1-2m of space behind the installation for the projectors (although we are working on including the projectors on the inside of the unit which might then help to reduce the space behind the model) and we’d need 2-3m in front of the model for the audience to stand and watch it. We provide the equipment.

The Haunted Dress

Commissioned by and developed for the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Haunted Dress is an installation using theatre couture, projections and sound to tell the gruesome story of a beautiful but savage fairy queen who seduced a man into madness. Ghostly and mesmerising.

The Haunted Dress (full version) from Davy and Kristin McGuire on Vimeo.

The Haunted Dress Venue Requirements:
A blacked out, sound insulated room or corridor. The installation is ca. 2m high, 1m deep and 1m wide. We would need ca. 4 m of space in front of the dress for the projector. Also, the venue would need to hire an HD projector, which needs to be mounted on the ceiling. We provide all other equipment.

A glowing dress in darkness

The Haunted Dress (c) Davy & Kristin McGuire

Sprite Symphony

Commissioned by and developed for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Sprite Symphony is a magical installation using projections and sound to create a beautiful yet dark display of fairies that have been trapped in jam jars and are trying to escape their glass cages. The fairies knock and tap on their jars and thereby create a polyphonic musical composition.

Sprite Symphony Venue Requirements:
The Sprite Symphony has sound but it can be used without – we’ve had it set up in the RSC theatre foyer which means that it doesn’t necessarily need its own room. This installation works in daylight (not bright sunlight though) but also dark light conditions. We provide all equipment. Dimensions for Sprite Symphony are: 1m wide, 2.30m high and 0.75 m deep.

A glowing fairy in a Mason jar

Sprite Symphony (c) Davy & Kristin McGuire

Installation and costs

Each of these three installations takes approximately one day for two people to set up, which incurs a set up fee of £400 per installation. Transport and travel depends on the location: the McGuires are based in Bristol. An approximate guide of £300 – 600 per installation.

If any museum wants to keep the work for longer, we will need to charge an additional fee for maintenance of equipment. To be negotiated.

Psycho: Homage to Hitchcock

Psycho is an animated paper sculpture: a hybrid art work that combines the delicate paper model, sound and video in one beautiful unit, boxed off, framed and easily switched on and off.

Psycho – Homage to Hitchcock (Animated Paper Sculpture) from Davy and Kristin McGuire on Vimeo.

A man setting up an intricate paper sculpture

Psycho: Homage to Hitchcock (c) Davy & Kristin McGuire

Psycho technical information and costs

This installation can be couriered out from the McGuires’ studio in Bristol with self-assembly instructions, so the cost would just need to cover the shipment.

Your next step

If you’re interested in bringing any of these installations to your venue for Museums at Night, please contact Rosie on 01273 623336 or email rosie@culture24.org.uk.

Do something different screencast: event marketing on a shoestring

I recorded this screencast for the Arts Marketing Association’s Culturehive website, which aims to collate and share best practice in cultural marketing.

The 40 minute video shares some of my top tips for planning and marketing events, and includes examples from lots of Museums at Night events.

It covers idea generation; ways of involving staff and volunteers; how to add value while keeping costs low; pricing; hyper-local marketing on a shoestring; working in partnership; what makes a successful event; and how to convert visitors into fans.

Thanks to the lovely team at the AMA, I’m able to share it with you all – but only until Museums at Night! Take a look now, as the videos will disappear at the end of May!

Order your Museums at Night 2014 brochures by Monday 31 March

Thanks to everyone who’s registered Museums at Night events in the database: BBC History Magazine are now compiling our major piece of print publicity, the official Guide to Museums at Night.

This A5-sized colourful 16-page brochure goes out to all BBC History magazine readers, and selected Tourist Information Centres across the UK. It contains short interviews and features about some of the exciting festival events, along with list of participating venues arranged by region.

The goal of the brochure is to send people who pick it up to the Museums at Night public-facing website to find events they’d like to visit in their area.

artwork showing a girl shining a torch around museum objects

The front over of BBC History Magazine’s Guide to Museums at Night 2014, designed by Stuart Kolakovic

All venues running a Museums at Night event will receive a small box of 100 brochures – unless you tell us otherwise! These come to you totally free, and you have 10 days to let us know how many you’d like.

Please fill in this simple form to let us know how many boxes you’d like: you can order small boxes containing 100 brochures, or large boxes containing 500 brochures – or if you don’t want any brochures at all, please use the form to tell us this. We can’t send out fewer than 100 brochures at a time.

You can help raise awareness about the Museums at Night festival by placing the brochures in foyers and cafes, local libraries, bookshops, theatres, cafes, bars, and supermarkets: you know better than we do the places that people are likely to pick up brochures in your town. 

If you’re not running a Museums at Night event this year but would still like to take a box of brochures and distribute them in your area to help raise awareness of the festival, please do order a box! To our delight, this happens every year, and it’s really encouraging for Nick and I to see the sector come together to encourage more visits to arts and heritage venues.

Please order your brochures here by 11am on Monday 31 March 2014.

Attract new visitors and generate income with Culture24′s Activity Superstore partnership

I’m cross-posting this information here because if you’re reading the Museums at Night blog, you’re probably interested in attracting new audiences and generating income for your museum, gallery or heritage site – and Culture24′s new partnership may well be relevant to you!

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Culture24 is collaborating with the UK’s leading gift experience company, Activity Superstore, to create an innovative and unique range of science, arts and history-themed experience gifts for Christmas 2014.

This is a fantastic opportunity for museums, galleries, historic houses, science centres and any other venues within the Culture24 network to access new markets and promote their offer to a wider audience.

The new range of experience gift packages will be sold in major high street retailers as well as online. Each gift will be packaged in a box and include a voucher to be used in the next year (i.e. 2015) and be priced between £20-£100 dependent upon the experience.

Two colourful printed cardboard boxes

Activity Superstore gift experience boxes

The new range will be aimed at families, adults and young adults and feature cultural experiences such as curator tours, behind the scenes access, talks, workshops and other activities that offer added value. They will cover subject areas such as science, history, archaeology, art and literature and natural history.

The proposed new gift experience packages:

Museums at Night
After-hours in the nation’s museums, galleries and historic houses can be the most magical of all – when the lights are dimmed, the crowds are gone and the venue does something different. Choose from an eclectic mix of evening openings featuring music, art, science, drama, poetry and more, with a glass of fizz or a cocktail to add sparkle to your evening. Over-18s only.

Family Night in the Museum
Ever wondered what really happens when they lock museum and gallery doors at night? Pack those torches, sleeping bags and pyjamas and choose one of our amazing venues for a night you won’t forget in a hurry. Whether the sleepover companions are dinosaurs or suits of armour, Egyptian mummies or priceless works of art, there will be special family activities to keep everyone busy until lights out.

Live Science
Watch a live science demo, meet a scientist, get stuck in to hands-on science activities or take a peek behind-the-scenes in a range of amazing science-focussed venues, from historic science heritage sites and museums to cutting edge technology centres. This gift will delight science-lovers of all ages.

The Night Sky
Turn your gaze to the heavens and discover the secrets of the stars with this astronomy-themed family gift. Settle down to an awe-inspiring planetarium show or wrap up warm and head for the great outdoors to scan the night skies with an astronomy expert.

Lost Traditions
Traditional arts and crafts are thriving, if only you know where to look. This gift gives two people the chance to try out one of a wonderful mixture of workshops or taster sessions from weaving, quilting, or crochet to milling, calligraphy, pottery and more, all taking place in museums, galleries and historic houses.

Inside Design
Packed with expert tours of museum collections featuring design and fashion classics, or of buildings that are architectural gems, this gift is perfect for anyone with an eye for style. Curators, artists and designers lead special tours of some of the country’s most stylish collections, interiors and buildings, sharing their expert knowledge and love of their subjects.

Family Fun: Hands on Discovery
Know any youngsters who love discovering and finding out new things? Whether they’re into dinosaurs, dragons or the natural world; knights, princesses or castles; painting or making; stories or dressing-up, these hands-on family activities in museums, galleries, heritage sites and science centres will delight and inspire the under-12s.

Tales of the Horrible
Blood and guts abound in the true-life tales of derring-do, murder and mayhem through history that our nation’s museums, galleries and historic houses tell. Curator’s tours and storytelling sessions will bring our often grisly, gruesome history to life. Not for the faint-hearted or under-5s.

Inside Art
Discover art alongside the expert eye of an artist or curator. From old masters to the latest contemporary installations these special art-themed tours will bring collections to life. The perfect gift for art-lovers or for anyone keen to find out more about the amazing artworks in one of a range of galleries and museums.

Wheels, wings and water (working title!)
If you love planes, trains and automobiles, engines and industrial heritage, then this is the gift for you. Join a curator or expert for a behind-the-scenes or hands-on tour of some of the UK’s most fascinating museums and heritage sites and to take a close-up look at some marvels of engineering.

Want to find out more or talk to someone?

If you have any questions about the partnership, what’s involved, or want to discuss  taking part, please email Culture24 Listings Co-ordinator Richard Austin: richardaustin@culture24.org.uk or phone him on 01273 623357.

You can also download the Activity Superstore application form to register your interest now in this exciting new partnership opportunity.

Guest post: Kerry Whitehouse from The Infirmary, Worcester on dramatising medicine for Museums at Night

In our latest guest post, graduate trainee Kerry Whitehouse talks about how The Infirmary, Worcester is engaging university students with the dramatic element of Medicine, as they rehearse for their Museums at Night performances.

Tables with cabinets displaying an assortment of artifacts. Information on the walls to read and a set of headphones resting on a table.

The Infirmary’s interactive exhibition at the University of Worcester’s City Campus combining history, science, art and technology

We’re a medical museum in the heart of Worcester, housed in the former Worcester Royal Infirmary, and now owned by the University. How can we engage their students with our collections and stories?

One way is to include them.

How we involve drama students

The Infirmary is very pleased to be working with the drama department from the university to deliver one of their course modules. ‘Theatre, Real Lives  and History’ is a module that enables the students to develop their skills within the context of The Infirmary and accompanying historic rooms, such as the hospital’s former Board Room and Chapel.

Objects and information from the gallery inspire the students’ creative processes as they immerse themselves into characters from the hospital’s past.

The groups will then pitch their proposals in a ‘Dragons Den’ style presentation to determine which group will be involved in the Infirmary at Night Museums at Night performance.

This week, the students are working on First Person Interpretation, so they have cast themselves back into the characters displayed in the museum. I ventured out of the office today and spoke to the groups to get their ideas and thoughts on how it was all going.

A group of students working around a table

Drama students Isaac Alcock, Beth Crump, Jade Senior-Moulavi, Hannah Dhimaan and Kelsea Braddish researching for their performance

Group work

Each group was working in different ways. One group in the chapel had decided to sit around the table first to discuss how they were going to work and were assigning characters. The other two groups were engaged in acting and were busy rehearsing some of their scenes.

One group I spoke to were rehearsing in the museum, which is based in a former hospital ward. They used some of the museum’s dressing up costumes to help get them into character.

This group had already decided which characters to portray and when asked why, one of the students who was portraying Charles Hastings (Founder of the British Medical Association) said that he felt he had an empathy to the man, as it was thought that he had become a doctor because his father had been injured in an accident and had become disabled.

This group had opted for a ‘time-travel’ theme, with the past meeting the present. I watched as Matron Mary Herbert interacted with a present-day tour guide taking them around what was once her ward.

A collection of drama students. A woman dressed as a nurse talking to another in a white doctors coat. A woman with a bloodied apron stands behind them between two men.

Drama group getting into costumes: note the bloodied apron (L-R) Nurse Lucy Towns, Jeremy Weighill, Hannah Ives, Christopher Lopez, Doctor Kate Adams

The goals of the performance

When I asked this group on what their goals were for the performance for Museums at Night, they told me that their main aim was to engage a younger audience, by educating and entertaining them.

While I was observing the class, one group offered to show what they had been working on with the rest of the class. When asked at the end of the piece “How did it make you feel as an audience?” the replies were: ‘It was fun’, ‘It made me feel a little tense’ and ‘I loved how it was interactive’.

The performance itself is in its infancy, but after watching what the groups were working on and how they were working together, I’m really excited to see the end result!

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Kerry Whitehouse is a graduate trainee working with both the George Marshall Medical Museum and The Infirmary in publicity and marketing.

Follow the Infirmary on Facebook for more updates ahead of their Museums at Night performances.

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Thanks, Kerry!

If you’d like to write a guest post or share a case study about any aspect of audience development, event planning or marketing in the arts and heritage sector, please email rosie@culture24.org.uk.

Museums at Night media partnership with the Times

Museums at Night, the UK’s annual night-time festival of arts, heritage and culture, is pleased to announce its new media partnership with The Times.

The Times masthead

The Museums at Night festival offers the chance to experience culture and heritage in a totally unexpected way. Over three nights in May (May 15 – May 17) hundreds of museums, galleries and historic spaces all over the UK will open up late and put on a dazzling array of special night-time events: from unique literary talks in castles to star gazing in historic houses; sleepovers in palaces to city-wide culture crawls; bands playing in amongst museum exhibits to science fiction life drawing in galleries.

A bhangra band in cosutme with musical instruments

Bhangra band RSVP will be performing at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter for Museums at Night 2014

The new partnership with The Times includes editorial support for a range of Museums at Nights events and participating artists. In addition, there will be a whole host of Museums at Night ticket offers and competitions offered to Times+ subscribers.

Nick Stockman, Project Director for Museums at Night says, “I’m delighted to announce our partnership with The Times. We are really looking forward to sharing the excitement of the festival and all it has to offer with their readers.”

Alex O’Connell, Arts Editor at The Times says, “I am delighted that we will be partnering up with Museums at Night and look forward to being able to share fantastic access to some of our great museums with readers and Times Plus members.”

Now in its sixth year, the Museums at Night festival ties in with the European initiative La Nuit des Musées. It is run by non-profit cultural publisher Culture24 and designed to attract new audiences into museums and galleries, via a whole range of exciting experiences and events.

Full event listings for the festival can be found at www.museumsatnight.org.uk.