Tag Archives: author

A group poem from author Guy Bass’s event at Trencherfield Mill

Trencherfield Mill in Wigan took advantage of Museums at Night’s partnership with the Reading Agency, and welcomed children’s author Guy Bass to lead a creative writing workshop about monsters for their family audience.

A man with brown hair smiling

Guy Bass (c) Curtis Brown

Carole Ogden from Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust has shared the brilliantly atmospheric poem she compiled from the group’s suggestions:

“While the children were decorating the monster, I asked them for words or phrases to describe the monster or what they were doing. While they were being entertained by Guy Bass I then used all those words to make a poem about constructing our monster and then read it to them before they went home, and they spotted their contributions to it.”

A large cardboard monster made by children

Stinky Phil, the Trencherfield Mill Monster. Image courtesy Carole Ogden

With no further ado, please read on – and tremble at the monstrous ode the children devised!

Stinky Phil – The Trencherfield Mill Monster

Tonight we made a monster,
for Museums at Night,
he is quite wide and hairy
and gave us all a fright!

He’s a multi-coloured mutant
who we call ‘Stinky Phil’;
one leg’s orange, one is brown
and his home is in the Mill.

He’s rather monolithic,
doesn’t say a lot,
but when he speaks, he breathes out
streams of gloopy snot! (Yuk!!)

We thought he’d be gregarious,
make some monster mates,
but he’s too shy and slimy
to ever get a date.

His fangs are long and pointy,
he has a spotty chest
and sports a dazzling monobrow
‘neath hair like a chicken’s nest!

Because he only has one eye
and a patch across his nose
he can’t see how ferocious
he looks, dressed in those clothes.

I know his legs are drippy
and rather speckled too
but he does look patriotic
with his fur red, white and blue.

We think our monster’s brilliant –
imagine him outside:
big as a giant, hairy feet,
two-pencils-and-two-spots wide!

So Stinky Phil is ready,
what will he do now?
We’ll have to keep him at the Mill
So visitors say “Wow!!”

So there are really monsters,
scary from toe to head.
I think, when I get home tonight,
I’ll check beneath my bed…

Even more authors available to talk at your Museums at Night event

It’s an exciting day here at C24 Towers: tickets have just gone on sale for three Museums at Night Public Service Broadcasting gigs at the RAF Museum in Hendon!

It’s also been great speaking to so many of you about your Museums at Night event plans – over 80 events have already been registered in our database, and we’re expecting many more before our next publicity deadline, Monday 24 February. Here’s a step-by-step guide explaining how to register your Museums at Night events.

Still looking for something extra to bring to your museum, gallery or heritage site? How about an author?

We’ve added to our spreadsheet as we now have even more authors happy to waive their usual appearance fees to appear at Museums at Night events – including World War I specialists Judith Allnatt and Max Egremont, pub historian Pete Brown and detective novelist James Runcie.

A smiling man in a jacket

Pete Brown – a British writer and broadcaster who specialises in “making people thirsty”

We also have four authors from the School of Life who are available either to speak individually, or can appear as a group to deliver an hour-long event: Anne Karpf, Oliver James, Jack Fuller and Christopher Hamilton.

A woman sitting on a sofa and man in a red jumper

Anne Karpf, author of How to Age, and Oliver James, author of How to Develop Emotional Health

Download the updated list of authors available for Museums at Night events here.

If you’re interested in bringing any of these authors to your event, please give me a call on 01273 623336 or email rosie@culture24.org.uk.

More authors available for your Museums at Night events!

Thanks for your feedback on the list of children’s authors we shared in November – at least eight venues have now been matched up with writers who’ll be giving readings as part of their Museums at Night events.

Book cover

We’re pleased to share an updated list of authors available for your Museums at Night 2014 events: some write for children, some for young adults and some for adults.

The list includes authors who focus on a range of subjects which could tie in with your venue’s collections, such as Victorian Gothic novelist Essie Fox, World War I writer Louisa Young, and Viking fantasy writer Snorri Kristjansson.

You can download the latest list of authors willing to speak at Museums at Night events here.

If you are interested in a particular author, double check their restrictions – some are only able to go to venues within a certain geographical area, most have specified the age groups their books are intended for, and many have set the minimum or maximum number of people they prefer to come and perform for.

Be aware that all events featuring these authors will usually end with a sale of their books, and in many cases a book signing session for visitors – do you have the space and staffing capacity to deliver this successfully?

Read our case study on delivering a successful author event to gain more of an idea about how this can work.

Your next step

If you’d like to invite one of our latest list of authors to your venue for Museums at Night, please call Nick or Rosie on 01273 623336.

Children’s authors for your Museums at Night 2014 event

Every year we collaborate with the Reading Agency to connect Museums at Night venues with authors to be part of their festival events, without charging an appearance fee.

This year we have an exciting list of 21 writers whose books are targeted at children and young adults for you to pick from, including How to Train your Dragon author Cressida Cowell and Bartimaeus author and ghost specialist Jonathan Stroud.

How to Train your Dragon

Download the spreadsheet list of children’s authors here – would any of these be appropriate for your venue’s Museums at Night event?

How author events work: case study

Last year, Northampton Museum & Art Gallery brought in author and historian Lucy Moore, who had recently published her biography of famous ballet dancer Nijinsky. This was relevant because the museum holds a world-renowned shoe collection, including the ballet slippers of prima ballerinas Anna Pavlova, Margot Fonteyn and Moira Shearer – which they highlighted in a display.

A male ballet dancer performing

Vaslav Nijinsky in Scheherazade (c. 1912), shared under a Wikimedia Commons licence

In addition to the author talk, which was chaired by the Senior Lecturer in Dance from the University of Northampton, the museum also invited a ballet dancer along to demonstrate some aspects of the dance form and discuss how she worked.

This successful event was specifically targeted at dance students and ballet fans, many of whom had not previously visited the museum but were pleased to have the opportunity to engage with specific objects in the collection. The extra programming inspired by the author created an enjoyable and rewarding evening experience for visitors.

How to promote an author talk

Once we connect your museum, gallery, library or heritage site with a particular author, it will be down to you to liaise directly with the publisher, coordinate and cover the expenses for the author’s travel and accommodation as necessary, take delivery of books for the book sale, and promote the event to your local audiences.

The publishers may have publicity material and images they can share with you to help attract attention, as well as copies of books that can be used as competition prizes – do ask them what they expect and how they may be able to help you!

Don’t forget that you can charge for admission to your Museums at Night events – but as these authors will appeal to families, you may want to widen access to more people by pricing tickets on a cost-recovery basis.

Your next step

Download the spreadsheet of available authors and share the list with your team. Do any of these writers, or the subjects they write about, have a connection with your venue, collections or location?

If you are interested in a particular author, double check their restrictions – some are only able to go to venues within a certain geographical area, most have specified the age groups their books are intended for, and many have set the minimum or maximum number of people they prefer to come and perform for.

In addition, there is extra information about the type of skills and props the authors bring along to their talks, which may be inspiring: for example, Holly Webb‘s events usually involve puzzles and hands-on craft-making activity sessions; Ten Little Pirates author Mike Brownlow would like to hold a piratical party; and Osbert the Avenger author Christopher William Hill brings boxes full of smells which he uses to inspire kids to create their own characters and stories.

Be aware that all events featuring these authors will usually end with a sale of their books, and in many cases a book signing session for visitors – do you have the space and staffing capacity to deliver this successfully?

If you’d like to invite one of these authors to your venue for Museums at Night, please call Nick or Rosie on 01273 623336.

Host an author for Museums at Night 2013

man reading

Craig Taylor reading from his book at the London Transport Museum in 2012

Hosting an author as part of your Museums at Night event can be a rewarding experience and may help your venue to reach a new audience.  Culture24 and the Reading Agency have put together a great list of authors available for events during Museums at Night 2013.

Reading Agency logo

Last year several authors participated in events all over the country including Craig Taylor appeared at the London Transport Museum, Sandy Gall at Surgeon’s Hall, Edinburgh and the feedback from the events was very positive.

If you are interested in hosting an author as part of your Museums at Night event, take a look at the list of 2013 Museums at Night Authors and decide if any of them have a connection to your venue.

Update 18/02/2013: We now have several children’s authors added to the list!

Once you’ve chosen an author take a look at the guidance notes below, get back to me or Nick with all the relevant information and we will inform the author’s publisher. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can to let you know if the author is available for your event. After that you will have direct contact with the author or their publisher to make arrangements for your event.

Do be aware that although all these authors are offering their services for free (as they are plugging new books) their publishers will expect the venue to pay for travel and accommodation costs if necessary.

Before the publisher can choose a venue for their author to appear at they need to be reassured about a number of things.

Please have a look at the following questions and respond in no more than two pages of A4, saving your document with the name of the author you are pitching for and your venue’s name, e.g. Joe Bloggs Museum of Stars.

•    Do you have a budget to pay for the author’s travel and if necessary accommodation?

•    Can you show you have a good track record of events (not necessarily with large audiences)? You just need to be able to demonstrate your expertise in running a regular events programme, with or without authors.

•    Where and when will the event be held?

•    Who is your target audience? How many people are you expecting to attend?

•    Will there be other speakers? And, if so, who?

•    Will the event be chaired? Who by?

•    Who is selling the books?

•    Is the event ticketed?

•    How will you promote the event?

•    What format will the event take: panel, debate, workshop, reading?

•    Who is the main venue contact for the author?

•    Travel: how will the author get to the museum and who will meet and greet them?

If you’d like to print these questions out to discuss with your team, you can download these questions as a PDF here.

We hope there is somebody on the list that you want to work with. Please get in touch if you have any questions: talk to Nick on 01273 623279 or nick@culture24.org.uk, or Rosie on 01273 623336 or rosie@culture24.org.uk.

Good luck!

Guest post: Louise West from Jane Austen’s House Museum on the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice – and a Museums at Night readathon!

Our latest guest post is by Louise West from Jane Austen’s House Museum, and is specially timed to coincide with Pride and Prejudice being published 200 years ago today! Louise explains how plans for her venue’s Museums at Night readathon event developed …

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The 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice today – and a whole year of celebrations throughout 2013 – gives us the opportunity to alert the world to the importance of Jane Austen’s House Museum as the home of Jane Austen’s writing. As one of the most popular books ever written, and one which has been translated into numerous languages, Pride and Prejudice has instant impact and appeal.

We always aim to attract as wide an audience as possible, and our exhibition and events programme will help to extend that reach. We have a travelling exhibition celebrating the novel and its appeal: this will travel to libraries in central London, discovery centres in Hampshire and locations used for the various adaptations.

The novel really comes to life when read out loud, partly because Jane Austen excelled at writing dialogue.

A reading of the entire novel in one day will naturally take us into the evening – and this is how we will celebrate Museums at Night.

A woman sitting in front of a bookshelf holding a red hardback book

Louise West reading a copy of Pride and Prejudice (c) Isabel Snowden

Reading and listening to Jane Austen’s words in the fading light of her village home will evoke her spirit most powerfully. Each chapter will be read by someone different, and as there are over 60 chapters, this means that at least that number of people will be able to participate in this event.

In 2011, to mark the bicentenary of Sense and Sensibility, we introduced readings in the Museum for the first time. Our patron, actor Elizabeth Garvie who played Elizabeth Bennet in the 1980 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, gave a number of volunteers a ‘masterclass’ in reading.

Some of our volunteers had been hiding their light under a bushel and read beautifully. This was a skill which we hadn’t previously realised we could use in the Museum!

A large red brick seventeenth century house

Jane Austen’s House Museum. Image shared under a Creative Commons licence by Flickr user iknow-uk

At the time we had staff reading in the house at several points during the day. This had some appeal, but sometimes visitors didn’t quite know how to respond, and felt a bit uncomfortable: should they stand and listen, or should they continue their journey around the Museum?

We feel that by holding an actual readathon for Museums at Night 2013 we will create more interest, and also that the audience will understand how to react.

When Jane Austen first received her copy of Pride and Prejudice, that very night she sat down and read aloud with her mother to an unsuspecting neighbour:

‘On the very day of the Books coming, & in the eveng. we set fairly at it & read half the 1st vol. to her.’

We will not be recreating this original reading, but rather involving as many people as possible in the experience of hearing Jane’s words read aloud in the house where she wrote them.

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A woman by a hedge smilingLouise West has been Curator of Jane Austen’s House Museum in September 2010 having previously fulfilled the role of Education and Collections Manager at the Museum.

“It was really Jane Austen that bought me to Hampshire 30 years ago. My grandparents lived in the county but I lived in Manchester and then London. I wanted to work with Hampshire’s museums and secretly hoped I’d get a job at Jane Austen’s House one day.”

After a career break to raise her four children, Louise took an MA in Museum and Gallery Education at the Institute of Education, London University and worked with many organisations, including the Mary Rose Museum, Southampton City Museums, Winchester Cathedral and the V&A.

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Thanks, Louise!

If you’re reading this and you have an interesting story to tell or case study to share about planning or marketing after-hours events, I’d love to publish your guest posts as well. Please get in touch at rosie@culture24.org.uk.

Event review: Connect10 brings Jon McGregor to RRS Discovery

Today I’m happy to share a couple of guest posts reviewing Museums at Night events from the weekend! The first comes from Mark Macleod, who wrote for us previously about how Museums at Night collaborates with the Festival of Museums.

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What should you expect when attending a Museums at Night event? Should research be done in advance? Is it appropriate to bring your parents? A number of questions I considered before attending the Connect10 winning event at the RRS Discovery in Dundee with author Jon McGregor presiding.

I’m not totally ignorant about the southern hemisphere, having visited RRS Discovery a number of times and enjoyed learning more about the travelers who used her.

When I heard that McGregor was going to talk about his residency with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) it was definitely something I wanted to attend. A couple of scientist friends of mine have gathered data in Antarctica and I was very keen to hear how an artist’s residency worked, and discover the experience of someone expanding their comfort zone in harsh environment for subjective art rather than objective science.

McGregor immediately set the mood arriving with music and a video playing what looked like my earlier journey from St Andrews to Dundee, but which I’m guessing was his rainy trip towards RAF Brize Norton for the RAF flight to the Falkland Islands.

A suitcase full of books

Jon McGregor’s suitcase of props (c) Mark MacLeod

A brief setting up of props and the story began, from the self-titled traveling salesman. We heard about his flight and transfer to the boat RRS James Clark Ross at Port Stanley, which was to be his home until they reached the BAS base in Antarctica.

Daily pictures from the top deck provided an indication of the beauty, isolation and general sublime nature of the open sea and finally the approach with icebergs.

McGregor was constantly creating work, sending 100 word emails daily to friends and associates containing his latest news and thoughts. Before current technologies reached the BAS ship travellers were able to send one 100 word telegram every week – it really was a place to get away from it all – but now the ship is hooked up to the internet, and McGregor wanted to reflect on this development.

The final image he shared was the most poignant: the ship had been breaking through the ice layer and was now only 80 miles from the base, but the ice was thicker than usual and the captain took the difficult decision to abandon the attempt and return to Stanley to refuel and try again later in the summer.

The scientists would wait on the Falklands and expect to try again after Christmas, but McGregor would fly home. He was genuinely disappointed by the ‘so near and yet so far’ nature of the trip and although he has yet to produce an “artistic work” from the journey, he doesn’t blame his not reaching Antarctica.

Before and during the trip McGregor read memoirs, diaries and other recollections of previous adventurers to the South Pole and his observation was that on the trip down everyone was calm, factual and generally preparing themselves for the unexpected.

Even now he claims it is extremely difficult, possibly impossible, to describe such an environment as this place. What adjectives and nouns can be used for an experience and landscape that has been shared by so few?

A man with a suitcase full of books

Author Jon McGregor, about to startle Mark and his parents with a reading (c) Mark Macleod

The final part of the evening was McGregor reading from his latest publication This isn’t the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You which amused, stunned and made me regress several years and squirm as I sat beside my parents.

The most memorable piece was ‘Looking up Vagina’ which proved the hit of the night, and which McGregor explained was written after learning his friend (now a poet) read the dictionary from start to finish as a teenager.

As Sesame Street might say, “Today was brought to you by the letter V and the number (Connect) 10.” I for one am glad to have voted and secured McGregor’s  visit to Dundee.

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Mark Macleod is Operations and Projects Curator at the Museum of the University of St Andrews: you can follow them on Twitter as @MUSA_StAndrews.

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Thanks Mark! If you went to a Museums at Night event, please let us know your thoughts by filling in this survey, so we can improve the festival in future years.