Tag Archives: attracting visitors

Guest Post: Laura Crossley reviews Jessica Voorsanger at 20-21 Visual Arts Centre in Scunthorpe

Our latest event review guest post comes from Laura Crossley, a Heritage and Audience Development Consultant and friend of Museums at Night who discovered other worlds at 20-21 Visual Arts in Scunthorpe!

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Saturday night TV is rubbish. What, therefore, is one to do to avoid National Lottery In It To Win It and endless repeats of Come Dine With Me? (Yes, being a mere mortal, of course I like Come Dine With Me but, no, I do not feel the need to watch ten episodes a day). On Saturday 17 May, the answer to that question came in the glorious form of 20-21 Visual Art Gallery’s Sci-Fi evening.

The event, for which we have to thank the brilliant minds of the 20-21 staff and multimedia artist Jessica Voorsanger, was a frenzied explosion of everyone’s favourite Sci-Fi programmes – Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who and more, with a sprinkling of Men in Black, mixed with several hundred rolls of tinfoil and flashing disco lights, all topped off with raucous space-themed karaoke – think Venus, Walking on the Moon, Spaceman, Girl From Mars, Space Oddity; you get the picture.

The silhouette of a figure in a suit standing in a doorway in a cloud of dry ice

Jessica Voorsanger silhouetted at the entrance to 20-21 Visual Arts (c) Know Media

The evening started with a life-affirming Men in Black parade with sharp suits, shades and serious dance moves rocking the streets of Scunthorpe.

The party then moved indoors to the kitschly (I’m claiming that as a word) decorated 20-21 Gallery where staff in fabulous space attire led an array of interactive activities.

a boy in front of a tardis with a colourful paper arm

A young visitor stepping out of the Tardis with a new bionic arm

As an avid fan of silliness, my favourite activities were dressing up in a Star Trek costume and being photographed in a neon space landscape, and sitting in a chair whilst lots of small furry balls, made by the local community, cascaded onto me from on high. The latter activity was a homage to much-loved Star Trek episode, The Trouble with Tribbles, in which the Enterprise is overrun by tribbles, purring balls of fluff which multiply at rapid speed.

A girl surrounded by small fluffy objects

A young visitor experiences a Tribble trouble avalanche (c) 20-21 Visual Arts

There was life drawing with Jedi light sabers…

handmade pink light sabers

Light sabers at 20-21 Visual Arts

There was sci-fi karaoke …

Visitors could even stage a Dalek attack!

a small boy menaces his parents with a dalek

Family dalek drama (c) 20-21 Visual Arts

It seems that the answer to Saturday night TV boredom might lie somewhere in a galaxy far, far away…..or more probably at a stupendous gallery in Scunthorpe.

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a woman smilingLaura Crossley is a Heritage and Audience Development Consultant and PhD Researcher. Her website is www.lauracrossley.com and you can follow her on Twitter at @lfcrossley.

 

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Thanks, Laura!

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.

Case study: How Wardown Park Museum attracted over 1000% more visitors than usual

Our latest case study guest post comes from Ellen Waghorn, Event Programmer at Wardown Park Museum in Luton.

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Wardown Park Museum took part in Museums at Night 2014 aiming to engage with new audiences and find new ways to use our spaces. We are a small museum with a collection relating to the history of Luton including Luton’s role in the hat-making industry past and present.

Two men wearing fancy hats and drinking beer in a museum after hours

Visitors show off their hats (c) Wardown Park Museum

We decided to separate our day and night events to focus on family and adult audiences.

‘Mad Hatters and Alice in Wonderland’, our daytime event, created something fun but educational that linked to our collection. We used outside space to increase capacity and had flamingo croquet and a rabbit hole crawl. We provided seating and catering bringing in secondary spend.

Inside the museum we created a trail (also charged), that focused on engaging children with our collections. Additionally, one of our volunteers ran an exhibition that  looked at the origin of tea and the history of plants in Bedfordshire, using our collection of plant specimens.

‘Mad Hatters Late’  consisted of  keeping the museum open until  10pm, and  performances  from local musicians, held in a flexible gallery space. To maximise secondary spend, we acquired a temporary alcohol license, and to tie in with our collections everyone was encouraged to wear hats!

a shot from behind showing the heads of audience members watching a band perform

Museum visitors listening to a band (c) Wardown Park Museum

Success

Attendance of the events exceeded expectations with 1027 people on site for the daytime event and 107 in the evening. 953 people came through the doors to the museum on the day.

Comparing this to a normal Saturday which averages at 80, this was a fantastic 1091.25% increase.

We learnt…

1) …not to be afraid of ‘set dressing’ our museum. Far from taking away from our collections, it enabled  more enjoyment, and made  our audiences  think of us as a fun place to visit. Museums are not dull: they’re a good place to have fun!

2) Advertising was key to this event. We used local radio, flyer and poster distribution as well as social media platforms and our website.

3) Using arts as an activity to entice a new audience works. We have been trialing this through ‘Music in the Museum’, a monthly music concert, and the decision to include story telling and a concert was due to the success of this.

A museum entrance hall with visitors and hats on the floor

A range of hats were available for visitors to wear (c) Wardown Park Museum

In future…

…we plan to have less separation between our day and evening events, although we will continue to target our activities for families during the day and adults in the evening. We will continue to increase the opportunities for secondary spend to support the programme and increase financial viability.

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A photo of a woman smilingEllen Waghorn is the event programmer for the Museum Makers Team at Wardown Park Museum. Her aim is to programme events and activities that actively engage the community and encourages the incorporation of volunteers (Museum Makers) into event running and organisation.

Find her on Twitter as @elwaghorn and on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/ellen-waghorn/63/70a/1a4

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Thanks, Ellen!

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.

3 days to go: 9 top event marketing tips

Here are some top tips for all venues trying to promote Museums at Night events: these are all simple mistakes we have seen in the last few days, which you should avoid!

1) Does your own website have a listing for your Museums at Night event?

If any details of your event have changed, have you updated them on your site? It sounds obvious but at the very least you need to list the date, event times and ticket price, along with contact details for potential visitors to make a booking or find out more.

2) Is your Museums at Night event listing registered in Culture24’s database?

Simply use the search widget here to double check that we’ve got your listing: www.museumsatnight.org.uk.

The Museums at Night event search widget

3) Most importantly, if we don’t have your event listing, please register it ASAP, or you’ll miss out on all of our regional marketing; and neither the public nor the media will know that there’s an event taking place in their area. Here’s how to register your Museums at Night event.

4) Is your listing correct?

If details of your event listing have changed, please log in here and update your event record: http://update.culture24.org.uk/dashboard - the changes will be visible the next time we publish the site, which usually happens twice a day.

If your event is fully booked, please update the listing to show this so you don’t have to turn people away on the night.

5) Chase your local media

If you’ve already sent press releases, that’s great – but now’s the time to follow up with a phone call. Your local newspapers and radio stations are looking for content – so could you offer them an interview and photos about the Museums at Night excitement you’re planning?

Will they be sending a reporter or photographer along on the night? Phone them now to find out!

6) Use your social media channels

Reach out to your followers on Twitter, Facebook, your blog, Instagram and any other social media channels you use. Share your excitement as you get ready – we’re already seeing some great behind-the-scenes photos and teasers, like this:

Winding house character

However, in your messages, be sure to include a link to your event listing online, or to the site where people can find out more and book tickets. Rather than just broadcasting, if you want your followers to take action, make it easy for them by giving them a link to click rather than forcing them to Google for more details.

Don’t forget, the Twitter hashtag for Museums at Night 2013 is #MatN2014 – if you use it, we’ll retweet you.

7) Send an email about your event

Send a quick newsflash reminder to your mailing list about your Museums at Night event – this is their last chance to book tickets! Bonus points if you have a good image to include.

8) Guerrilla marketing on the night

Hopefully you’ve already distributed posters, flyers and leaflets around your area – if not, there are customisable poster and flyer templates here and printable posters here.

Landscape Text1 500

However, you’ll want to attract new audiences on the night too – but if you don’t have enough staff to stand outside welcoming potential visitors, how can you grab their attention?

Good signage can make a big difference: if your venue’s on a side street that doesn’t get much passing traffic, use pop-up A-frame signs to catch people’s eye.

Don’t have signs? Simply chalk on the pavements! During Museums at Night over the last couple of years, several venues chalked a trail of arrows to direct passers-by to their front doors, and were delighted to report that this drew in curious new visitors.

9) Keep us updated!

If your tickets are selling slowly or quickly, if you may have to cancel or if your event’s now fully booked, please update us! Call 01273 623336, email rosie@culture24.org.uk or tweet@MuseumsAtNight.

And for bonus points:

If you’re not running an event at your venue, you can still support the festival!

a) Why not share a link with your social media followers to a Museums at Night event in your area they night like to go to? The hashtag is #MatN2014.

b) If you’re free during the evening on Thursday 15, Friday 16 or Saturday 17, why not pop along to a Museums at Night event with your friends or family?

c) Tune in to the BBC coverage of Museums at Night – there’s an hour-long show on BBC2 at 7pm on Saturday, and even more coverage online at www.bbc.co.uk/arts.

Best of luck – this will be a fabulous few days!

Guest post: Nerys Williams on celebrating toilets at Gladstone Pottery Museum

Today’s guest blog post comes from Nerys Williams, Audience Development Officer for Stoke-on-Trent Museums, based at Gladstone Pottery, who tells us why toilets are the unsung heroes of the modern world!


Toilets: the unsung heroes of the modern world. Unappreciated, sniggered at and quite literally … well let’s not go into what we do upon them, this is Culture24 after all.

A young visitor sits on some large toilet rolls in Flushed with Pride - you stick your hands in them to find things which have been used as toilet paper over the years.

A young visitor sits on some large toilet rolls in Flushed with Pride – you stick your hands in them to find things which have been used as toilet paper over the years.

Here at Gladstone Pottery Museum we think loos should be celebrated and recognised as the sanitary ware superheroes they actually are. They played a huge role in making ‘The Potteries’, but are eclipsed by the more palatable tableware we think of as establishing Stoke-on-Trent as ceramics central.

Toilets save lives literally every day and if you’d like to find out more about how please take a look at http://www.wateraid.org/uk – amazingly, one in three people in the world don’t have one.

At Gladstone we have hundreds: early ones, see-through ones, colourful ones, flowery ones, amazing Victorian painted ones, a Crapper, a Hartington flushing one similar to the one used by Elizabeth I and more. Our ‘Flushed with Pride’ section is chock full of toilet history and entertains and educates with more than an occasional nod to toilet humour.

Taking part in Museums at Night

Crowds gather on the cobbles for beer festival as part of the inaugural Gladstone Gig, December 2013

Crowds gather on the cobbles for beer festival as part of the inaugural Gladstone Gig, December 2013

Buoyed up by our initial foray into Museums at Night last year we’ve quite got into this after-dark malarkey, with our splendid Beer Festivals and out pants-wettingly brilliant inaugural Gladstone Gig last December bringing a new lease of life to our cobbled courtyard.

A partnership opportunity

When I heard that those funny Modern Toss people were up to toilet related shenanigans for Museums at Night it would have been rude not to take part. An exhibition of their prints in OUR toilets was just too good to miss.

It includes the Periodic Table of Swearing, which anyone who has developed workplace Tourette’s due to council cuts needs a copy of. (Number 91 is my current favourite).

‘Toilets by Twilight’

The chance to display Modern Toss’ Cistern Chapel exhibition was just too good to miss, so after a few hasty discussions to check what I was planning wasn’t too silly, here we are. A week from now, we’ll be hosting ‘Toilets by Twilight’, an all out loo extravaganza. Visitors can wander around our fabulous ‘Flushed with Pride’ building – the only permanent exhibition to the humble loo in the world, whilst enjoying some slightly-better-than-average wine.

Gladstone Pottery at dusk

Gladstone Pottery at dusk

There’ll be the chance to quiz a toilet expert – for yes, in my role I have access to these people! When you feel the need to ‘go’ you can do so in one of the best appointed facilities around – our visitor toilet has not only the commonplace pan but a urinal and a ‘Lady P’ female urinal, and the walls will be adorned by the edgy (and very funny) prints Modern Toss are providing.

To top it all off we’ll be showing ‘Carry On At Your Convenience’, simply because it would daft not to and there’s always room for a nudge and a wink!

Tickets are £5 and available by calling 01782 237777, and we welcome you to come in 1970s fancy dress if you dare, to celebrate the fact that we became a museum 40 years ago this summer.

Please come along – and if you can’t please consider this next time you spend a penny: http://www.toilettwinning.org/


Nerys Williams, Audience Development Officer for Stoke-on-Trent Museums.
Nerys Williams, Audience Development Officer for Stoke-on-Trent Museums.

Nerys Williams says, “I am the Audience Development Officer for Stoke-on-Trent Museums, based at Gladstone Pottery Museum, a preserved Victorian pottery factory in Longton. A fancy title, but my job is to get bums on seats (or feet on cobbles, in our case) and I love it. Organising events that put our museum in the heart of our community as a fun and interesting place to be is a challenge, but fantastic when it works!”

You can follow Gladstone Pottery Museum on Facebook here and follow Nerys Williams on Twitter  @NerysWilliams.


Thank you, Nerys!

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.

Guest post: Morag Calderbank explains why the UK Supreme Court is opening late for Museums at Night

In our latest guest post, Morag Calderbank, one of the Information Officers at the UK Supreme Court, London, tells us why her team are excited about taking part in Museums at Night for the first time.


As an information officer at the Supreme Court I am part of a small team dedicated to making the Supreme Court open, transparent, friendly and accessible to the public. Since the Court opened in 2009 our visitor numbers have been steadily increasing, with more than 75,000 people coming through the doors over the last 12 months.

Through educational and architectural tours, outreach projects, running debate days for young people, numerous open days (which include arts and crafts activities), consistently refreshing our exhibition area and being able to take part in something as experiential as Museums at Night, we are continually striving to expand and diversify our audience.

grand building of the supreem court at night time. Lights on in the building. Traffic lights blurred from fast moving traffic.

The UK Supreme Court is opening its doors to the public at night for the first time

What is the Supreme Court?

The Supreme Court first opened its doors to the public in October 2009 following a two year renovation of our glorious neo-gothic building, formerly the Middlesex Guildhall. The Supreme Court acts as the final court of appeal in the UK. Its judges used to be located in the House of Lords; serving as the appellate committee of the House of Lords. The judges work mainly in committee rooms along a vast committee corridor.

The need for a Supreme Court was primarily to establish a clearer separation between the three branches of Parliament; the executive, judiciary and legislature. Its previous location made this distinction rather blurred. The UK’s top court also needed to be more user friendly. By locating the judges within Parliament, the public found it difficult to access and many people were unclear about their role.

Why Museums at Night?

The Museums at Night festival attracted our attention as a really innovative way to reach out to the public. It enables our building to open after hours to welcome prospective visitors who can’t come and see us during our usual opening hours from Monday to Friday (9.30am to 4.30pm). Our event, which we’re delighted to say has now sold out, offers the chance to explore the highest court in the land in a relaxed atmosphere – we’ll be positively encouraging no ‘silence in court’!

A group of people inside a bright courtroom

Visitors inside the Supreme Court. Image courtesy of Greg Allen Photo.

Our hopes for the event

We want to inspire people to find out more about the law and see how it can relate to their own lives – maybe even challenge some misconceptions about courts and judges.

Our Museums at Night happening will be extraordinary as it allows the building to be seen in a new light; through the eyes of a court artist, through the perspective of an architect and even as a performance space for actors and musicians. We hope that our visitors will have a stimulating and fun evening and leave knowing a little bit more about the important work that goes on here.


a smiling woman wearing a lanyard

Morag is part of a small team making the Supreme Court accessible to the public. Morag started at the Supreme Court in June 2010 having previously worked for two years as a Visitor Assistant at the Houses of Parliament. She has an undergraduate degree from Sussex University in ‘American Studies’ and a Masters in ‘Learning and Visitor Studies in Museums and Galleries’ from Leicester University. In her spare time Morag sings with the Sing Tower Hamlets choir – which is great fun!

Follow the Supreme Court on Twitter @UKSupremeCourt


Thank you, Morag!

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.

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.

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: Science Communication Officer Nicola Frost on creating an interactive family lecture

Ever considered how your organisation could bring science concepts to life for young audiences? Our latest guest post is a case study about doing exactly that, by Nicola Frost, Science Communication Officer at the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Infection and Global Health.

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Rudolph the Sneezing Reindeer

Early last year I was chatting to a scientist from our Institute who told me about an idea that had been bouncing around his head for a while, but he’d never yet made happen. The idea was simple; an interactive Christmas lecture aimed at young children to engage them in the science of germs and infectious disease. Over a coffee, we threw around some ideas and a plan was formed!

Children and a person in a reindeer suit playing with playdough

Rudolph helps demonstrate how quickly bacteria can reproduce using play dough. (c) Tom Solomon / IGH

Finding a venue

I decided to approach the Education Officer at the University’s Victoria Gallery and Museum (VG&M) as a potential venue. We had never worked with the VG&M before, however as a cultural asset of the University, with an established family-friendly public programme, it made perfect sense to see if there was any synergy in what we were both trying to achieve.

Thankfully there was, and the VG&M was happy to provide us with a venue and include us as part of their festive programme.

Children gathered around tables doing craft activities

Science craft session in full swing (c) Nicola Frost / IGH

Building the team

With a venue and date confirmed, I pulled together a team of volunteers from the Institute, including PhD students and researchers interested in developing their public engagement skills, to help Dr Alan Radford turn his idea into reality.

We helped input ideas for the lecture, provided critique, developed a craft session to run before the lecture, and provided people power on the day.

A group of people wearing reindeer antlers around Santa

Team photo (c) Kate Hall / Victoria Gallery & Museum

Stretching the budget

Ensuring that our programme of outreach events is properly funded is an important part of my job, and I work with scientists to help them secure public engagement grants from various societies and organisations. Even so, a small amount of money usually needs go a long way so you need to be a bit creative with your ideas.

In this case we actually managed to borrow a few key items, including a microscope that could be hooked up to a projection screen, and a life-sized anatomical model of a torso!

We had a small budget to cover material costs and marketing. From this we had some design done for promotional materials, including a flyer, poster and webpage.

Reaching our target audience

A key target market for us was primary school pupils, so I worked with the University’s Educational Opportunities Department and MerseySTEM who helped promote the event to local schools. The VG&M also advertised the event as part of their ‘What’s On’ guide which was a huge help.

We also used social media, and the local radio station, which are both really useful (and free!) tools.

A successful event

After a lot of hard work from everyone involved, the event went really well, with highlights including children from the audience unravelling 40 toilet rolls at once to help them visualise the size of viruses (messy but fun!) and appearances from Santa Claus and Rudolph.

A group of children attempting to pull of one of Father Christmas' boots.

Dr Alan Radford and helpers from the audience try to remove Santa’s boots to investigate the bacteria that make smell (c) Tom Solomon / IGH

We had a turn-out of over 75 people for the lecture, which both we and the VG&M were really pleased with. The formal feedback we received has also been really positive and we will use this to evaluate the success of the event and to decide whether we will something similar again next year!

Top tips for public engagement events:

  1. Be clear on your aims and objectives – what exactly to you want to achieve and why? How will you measure whether you’ve been successful?
  2. Know your audience – be clear who you are aiming your event at and ensure the content is targeted appropriately.
  3. Work in partnership – this would have been a lot harder to do without support from the VG&M and others.
  4. Make your budget work as hard as possible for you – try and borrow items that you are unlikely to use again in the future, and shop around for good deals on consumable items!

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A woman in a black t shirt smilingNicola Frost is the science communication and public engagement officer for the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Infection and Global Health. She has a degree in biological sciences from the University of Oxford and previously worked for the Museum of Science and Industry and the Manchester Science Festival.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/IGHLiverpool
Twitter: @IGHLiverpool

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Thanks, Nicola!

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.