Author Archives: Culture24

Two short podcasts about Museums at Night

I was recently interviewed by Terence Eden for his About a Minute podcast, which is a short burst of someone sharing their enthusiasm for a project they think is interesting.

In Episode 15, I introduce the Museums at Night festival.

And in Episode 17, I discuss being part of the group fall into the sea that artist Amy Sharrocks led at Swansea Museum during the festival last year.

A black and white photo of people on a beach holding hands to walk into the sea

Artist Amy Sharrocks leads people towards the sea for a mass fall into the water (c) Kaan Ucele Photography

Promote your museum or gallery on the podcast!

Terence is currently looking for more people to appear on his podcast – so if your museum or gallery is doing something interesting and you’re happy to talk about it for 60 seconds, he’d love to hear from you. Here are all the ways you can contact him.

When is Museums at Night in 2016, 2017 and 2018?

If you’re planning your long term calendar and would like to know the dates of the Museums at Night festival for the next 4 years, here you go:

Thursday 14 – Saturday 16 May 2015
Thursday 12 – Saturday 14 May 2016
Thursday 18 – Saturday 20 May 2017
Thursday 17 – Saturday 19 May 2018

We’re particularly excited about 2016: the last time the Museums at Night festival included a Friday 13th, lots of museums and heritage sites programmed ghost tours, paranormal evenings and showcased the sinister side of their collections.

These were easy to promote in the media – so if you want to take advantage of this marketing opportunity in 2016, be sure to start taking photos of your spooky objects and events now!

A witch in a candlelit room

An atmospheric candlelit photo from the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle, Cornwall

A Curious Night at the Booth Museum

Culture24:

This is a terrific review of a well-thought-out after-hours event held recently at the Booth Museum in Brighton, written by Brighton Museums’ latest blogger-in-residence. The event title is immediately intriguing – A Curious Night of the Slightly Strange – and in fact this atmospheric event quickly sold out. Read on to find out more:

Originally posted on Royal Pavilion & Brighton Museums:

Stag heads at the Booth

Well I could not have hoped for a better start to my exciting new post as the third Blogger in Residence for Brighton Museums than a visit to the Booth Museum of Natural History, where I squeezed in for a sold out evening event, A Curious Night of the Slightly Strange.

For most of the attendees, the event was a bit of a trip down memory lane, the museum familiar to them from school trips, but being a recent incomer to Brighton this was my very first visit. A chilly night not long after Halloween was certainly a suitable time to be inducted into this twilight world of stuffed birds, lizard skeletons and thousands of pinned and mounted creepy crawlies.

The first thing I noticed were the stuffed brown bears in the entrance hallway. There’s nothing remotely cuddly about these critters who stand opposite each other, baring their fearsome teeth…

View original 1,028 more words

Intro to Culture24 and Museums at Night!

I’ve been lucky enough to travel to various heritage sector events over the last 6 weeks, talking about Culture24 and Museums at Night. I wanted to share the resources and a helpful introductory presentation here, so you can see the sort of information I give out and download the handouts for yourself.

Museums Norfolk Development Day: Using events to engage visitors and generate income 

I introduced Culture24’s various services and some of our current initiatives with this one-page Culture24 contact handout.

I explained how museums can get started using Culture24’s DDE database to showcase events and exhibitions, with this one-page introduction to Culture24’s DDE.

Finally, I discussed how even the smallest heritage venues could successfully take part in Museums at Night and attract publicity in a mini-marketing masterclass.

 

SHOWCASE: South East Museum Development conference

A woman smiling on a stand with handouts

Rosie at Brooklands Museum, image courtesy Scott Ramsey Photography

I took part in this fascinating day at historic Brooklands Museum, talking about how museums could take advantage of Culture24’s services, and run successful events for Museums at Night. I was really pleased to meet so many people in person who read my newsletters, and who I’d only had email contact with before!

Museomix

I also took part in the brilliant three-day Museomix hackathon at Derby Silk Mill and Derby Museum & Art Gallery – here are the terrific remixed collection objects the 7 teams developed over the weekend: http://www.museomix.org/en/localisation/derby-2014/#prototypes

As Community Manager I welcomed people who were new to the heritage hackathon experience. I created new content, sourcing stories and interviewing museum staff to provide features for the MuseomixUK Tumblr; helped the teams to post images and thoughts to their own Tumblrs; highlighted interesting digital content from others; and helped with idea generation and prototype development – I’d recommend the experience to anyone!

Museums at Nightclub opportunity: expression of interest form

A few months ago we introduced the idea of Museums at Nightclub: an artist-led, touring event series taking place in Autumn / Winter 2015, produced by a consortium of venues in conjunction with Culture24, taking place in areas with low engagement in the arts. It will feature artists who specialise in participatory arts events, and who have worked on the Connect10 project in previous years.

We are developing a proposal to submit to Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Programme before Christmas, involving a partnership with venues. Could you be one of them?

Download the three page information pack to find out more about what will be involved.

We want to work with 16 venues from all over the country over the two year lifetime of the project, eight in the first year and again eight in year two. We want to submit the application with at least eight venues firmly committed to the project and at least eight more aiming for year two.

Venues from anywhere in England may express an interest but preference will be given to those identified by the Taking Part Survey (2008 – 2010) as being in the 118 local authority areas in the country with the lowest level of engagement in the arts.

We will read all the expression of interest forms submitted and contact everybody before inclusion in the final application. Inclusion in the application is not to be taken as a commitment by Culture24 to include your venue in the project.

The first stage of the project after receiving a positive decision would be to hold detailed discussions with the artists and interested venues. At this stage there are many aspects of the event that may lead us to need to prioritise one venue over another; diarising simultaneous events, artist schedules, facilities, technical considerations, progress of audience development planning and much more besides.

Want to get involved? Your next steps:

1) Download the Museums at Nightclub 3 page info pack and list of local authority areas of low arts engagement. You can still apply if your local authority isn’t listed here,

2) Discuss the opportunity with your team. Becoming part of the new Museums at Nightclub touring network will involve a lot of time and development work ahead of the events in autumn / winter 2015: do you have the capacity for this?

3) Phone Nick on 01273 623279 or Rosie on 01273 623336 for a discussion about how this opportunity would work for your organisation.

4) Want to apply? Download the list of application form questions, and start preparing your answers.

N.B. Please take a look at the list of questions from the expression of interest form first, to prepare your answers before filling in the form. The form is two pages long, involves a certain amount of detail about your target audiences, and must be completed in one sitting – you can’t save it and come back to it.  

5) Ready to submit your expression of interest? Please fill in this form by Friday 29 November.

Please get in touch with Nick or Rosie if you have any questions relating to this project, or if you can’t download the documents – we’re happy to email them to you.

Museums at Night 2014 stats: the infographic!

We’re delighted to share this infographic showing the top-line statistics for Museums at Night 2014. Thanks again to all the arts and heritage organisations that ran such successful events: it’s brilliant to see how popular the festival is!

Museums at Night 2014 evaluation executive summary

Here are those stats again, if you’d like to quote them:

During Museums at Night 2014, 500 venues ran 700 events.

100,000 visitors made 180,000 visits, with 33,000 people visiting a museum or gallery they’d never been to before.

The events were great: 98% of visitors rated their experience at 7/10 or higher, and 96% of visitors said they now felt inspired to visit more arts and heritage venues.

400,000 people watched the Saturday night BBC2 programme about Museums at Night.

The festival campaign attracted media coverage with an AVE of £3.4 million.

Hurrah!

 

Guest Post: Museum Alive brings mannequin drama to Chippenham Museum!

Our latest guest post comes from Melissa Barnett of Chippenham Museum, who explains how she involved a drama group in bringing the museum’s mannequins to life for Museums at Night.

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Any activity organised for Museums at Night has to be fun, should attract new audiences and should show off our collections to the best advantage.  This we did in bucket loads and we are still receiving the benefits.

The idea – and the challenge

We decided we wanted to take part in the festival at a late stage. We have no history of after-hours opening, however, and our town is quite deserted at nights. However, we wanted to get involved, so we thought we’d try something inexpensive and simple to organise and see how it turned out.

A group of children in a room with a large map

Children exploring Chippenham Museum (c) D & D Carrington Photographers

We knew that if we wanted to encourage visitors to make a special journey, something out of the ordinary was needed. However, our collections don’t include scary dinosaurs or mysterious mummies to tempt a trembling populace through our doors. So, building on the idea from the film Night at the Museum, we decided that our mannequins should come alive for the night!

a medieval woman with a basket

Is she a mannequin, or a medieval philanthropist waiting to come to life? (c) D & D Carrington Photographers

Who is the audience?

As a small community museum, most of our visitors are returning families with primary school aged children. We decided that the best time to start our activity would be at 4.00 pm, after the museum closed but before tea and bedtime.

What we did

For maximum effect, we decided that our museum should be dark and that there should be an element of surprise.

We also wanted to make our activity not only fun, but also an educational experience. So each mannequin told their story in their own words. We chose real characters from our local history – a suffragette, a First World War soldier, an engineer and a medieval philanthropist.

A suffragette and banner

A suffragette with a banner tells her story (c) D & D Carrington Photographers

How we did it

We contacted a local community drama group,  Rag & Bone Arts, who agreed to act the parts for us. The museum supplied a short script for each character and provided costumes from our education store.

Having gained some confidence, we became bolder and perhaps a little carried away and decided that as we had suitable costumes, the staff and Friends groups could also get involved, acting as general characters such as a school teacher or a cook. Some of the actors’ children also wanted to get involved and dressed up as Victorian schoolchildren!

A Victorian Schoolroom

Schoolmistress and schoolchildren in the Victorian classroom (c) D & D Carrington Photographers

Museum Alive was the obvious event title: we made a poster in-house and circulated news of the event through social media.

Museums Alive poster

On the Night

We turned off the museum lights and blacked out the windows as the actors went to stand like mannequins in their correct setting: the cook in the Victorian kitchen, the suffragette next to her banner, the engineer near the railway exhibit. They posed as though they were mannequins – motionless.

Visitors were provided with a “special” torch and told to shine the torch on the mannequins as they explored the museum. The mannequins would then come alive, tell their story, then once again become completely inactive.

A group of children shining torches in a dark museum

Children in the museum shining their special torches (c) D & D Carrington Photographers

The trained actors were superb, word perfect and gloriously scary, but the museum staff almost stole the show with their unscripted performances. The cook in the kitchen wielded her meat chopper in such a menacing way that even grown-up visitors jumped!

A costumed cook in a historical kichen

The cook in the kitchen (c) D & D Carrington Photographers

The Results

The night was a tremendous success. The museum really came alive and everyone had a thoroughly enjoyable evening. For the museum, a significant benefit was the new partnership with Rag and Bone Arts Group, who now use the Museum for some of their performances.

We are looking forward to repeating the event in future, with more time for forward planning and extra publicity.

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A woman smilingMelissa Barnett is Curator of Chippenham Museum and Heritage Centre, which has a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ChippenhamMuseum. Melissa gained a degree in Archaeology and has worked as Curator of Welshpool and Banbury Museums, and Museums Officer for South Gloucestershire Council. She has always enjoyed working with community groups, and relishes her role in Chippenham where the museum is a thriving and popular hub for the town.

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Thanks, Melissa!

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.