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.

Call for Museums at Night images

Thanks to everyone who’s registered Museums at Night events: we have almost 300 in the database already!

Our latest publicity opportunity is a great one if you have high res photos showing people exploring your venue and collections. This opportunity is open to any organisation taking part in the Museums at Night festival, large or small.

a night time photo of an impressive historic building with blurred car lights zooming past

Outdoor photo of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, who are running twilight tours for Museums at Night

Our festival PR agency, Bullet PR, are putting a call out for images to represent the Museums at Night festival 2014.

If you have a great image to accompany your Museums at Night event, please forward a high res version (1.5 mg or more) either by email or dropbox link to pandora@bulletpr.co.uk.

If you’re setting up a photo opportunity and want to take pictures of children, you must get their parents’ permission.

When you’re sending images through to us, don’t forget to tell us what the image shows (e.g. any specific collection objects or buildings), the photographer’s credit and any copyright information.

costumed fire jugglers in a historic street

Fire jugglers welcome visitors to the Black Country Living Museum after hours (c) BCLM / Patrick Mulvaney

The best images will be selected for the Museums at Night press image library: when media representatives get in touch with specific requests, e.g. asking for landscape or portrait photos of families or costumed characters having a good time at festival events, this is where we direct them.

A woman in period costume lighting a candelabra

Georgian costumed character lighting candles after dark at Fairfax House in York

Your pictures could appear in newspapers, magazines, on websites and across all kinds of social media – so please, do send us your best!

Let’s Talk About Space: arts and science excitement for your Museums at Night event

Today we have an unusual offer to bring your venue alive for Museums at Night with a musical astronomy show!

UPDATE 14/03/2014: Let’s Talk About Space have now been paired up with a museum for Saturday 17 May, but they’re still available for Museums at Night events on Thursday 15 and Friday 16 May.

Two men in front of a projection of the galaxy

Kieran and Chris from Let’s Talk About Space

Let’s Talk about Space is a unique astronomy show that will introduce your audience to space concepts through the spoken word, live music, film, animation and 3D visuals.

The hosts of Let’s Talk about Space, Kieran and Chris, can lead your venue’s Museums at Night visitors on a guided tour of the wonders of the Solar System and beyond through their unique shows. Their aim is to encourage the general public, children and adults alike, to take an active interest in and develop their knowledge of Astronomy and Science.

By combining cross platform arts (live music/film/animation/spoken word) with astronomy lessons, group discussion, stunning visuals and some cutting edge technology (SolarWalk/StarWalk), Let’s Talk about Space dispel any myth that science is boring. They evoke a sense of wonder through creating fun and interactive environments which the audience can relate to 

Two men in a cardboard box with colanders on their heads

The Let’s Talk About Space duo prepare to head into the stratosphere

Since the project’s initial conception in early 2012, Let’s Talk About Space have held performances at the Glasgow Science Centre Planetarium, held the UK’s first ever 100% solar powered concert at The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory, hosted an evening of astronomy lessons at Glasgow’s West End Festival (attended by members of NASA) as well as performing at numerous music festivals, arts centres and schools.

Let’s Talk about Space are based in Scotland, but are more than happy to travel further afield around the UK.

Kieran and Chris are comfortable performing to audiences ranging in size from 20 to 800 people, and varying the scale of kit they use from stripped-back AV equipment to larger visual projections and theatre-style stage props.

The team charge a flexible, negotiable day rate from £300 – £800, depending on the type of venue they’re going to.

Each performance lasts roughly an hour, and for the agreed day rate the team are happy to hold as many or as few performances as desired by the venue. The show can be adapted to suit your event, focusing on either the educational content or the live music side of things.

If you’re interested in bringing Let’s Talk About Space to your venue for Museums at Night, please contact Nick Stockman on 01273 623279.

Get into BBC History Magazine’s Guide to Museums at Night: register your event by Friday 7 March

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who got in touch because you were away for half term: we’ve extended the deadline to register your events for our brochure until Friday 7 March.

The latest publicity opportunity: your event will appear in BBC History Magazine’s official printed Guide to Museums at Night if you register it by Friday 7 March.

This brochure is our main piece of printed publicity, and is distributed to all readers of BBC History Magazine, various Tourist Information Centres, all UK museums and galleries participating in the festival, and any other arts and heritage venues who volunteer to help with the distribution.

Take a sneak peek at our beautiful front cover for this year’s brochure, designed by artist Stuart Kolakovic:

A colourful design showing museum objects coming to life around a girl with a torch

Museums at Night 2014 brochure cover design by Stuart Kolakovic

Don’t miss out! If you’re already planning an after-hours event in your arts or heritage venue on Thursday 15, Friday 16, or Saturday 17 May 2014 you can simply register double-brand your event as part of the Museums at Night festival to take advantage of all the associated publicity.

Here’s how to register your Museums at Night 2014 event.

Guest Post: Meet Museums at Night Intern Rebecca Hone

A smiling girl in a red skirt standing in front of a painted wall.

Rebecca Hone outside Culture24 offices

Hello! I am Rebecca Hone and I am lucky enough to be the new Museums at Night 2014 festival intern.

My background includes studying History of Art at UEA within the walls of the fabulous Sainsbury Centre, as well as a mixture of experience from galleries and arts organisations. I have been working for the last 6 months as Assistant Curator at Mascalls Gallery, a gallery in the heart of Kent, which has been exhibiting a mixture 20th century and contemporary artists since it opened in 2006.

My first contact with working with Museums at Night was in 2013 while I was a Gallery Assistant at Jerwood Gallery who won the public vote for the Chapman Brothers do an evening event in this gallery by the sea.

Crowd of people looking at life size picture consequence drawing © Pete Jones

Museums at Night 2013 at Jerwood Gallery © Pete Jones

Life sized picture consequences were played through the gallery amidst wine, laughter and a flurry of creativity. The day after, children came into the gallery to tackle to same challenge of these grand sized picture consequences but this time with an injection of colour!

From here my enthusiasm for what Museums at Night do has blossomed and I am thrilled to now be part of a team that helps to shower the UK with such events.

My first few weeks have had me diving straight in and has been hugely varied already! Excitement fills the room every time ideas for events are shared around the office, planned or confirmed.

I look forward to speaking to many of you on the phone in due course and finding out what you are planning for this year’s Museums at Night Festival in May!