Tag Archives: event review

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.

It's all gone a bit Bowie! #jvtv2021

A photo posted by 20-21 Visual Arts Centre (@2021visualarts) on

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.

@cutlimited and @jvoorsanger with Frank Pug after our Men In Black parade down Scunthorpe High Street this evening. #jvtv2021

A photo posted by 20-21 Visual Arts Centre (@2021visualarts) on

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 …

Jessica Voorsanger with two sassy space cadets on the cosmic karaoke, at last Saturday's Museums At Night event. #MaN2014 @jvtv2021

A photo posted by 20-21 Visual Arts Centre (@2021visualarts) on

Two Doctors. One Karaoke machine. LOTS OF FUN! #MaN2014 #JVTV2021

A photo posted by 20-21 Visual Arts Centre (@2021visualarts) on

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.

Guest post: Holly Hyams and Jade Montserrat create a Museum of the Night at Scarborough Museums Trust

Today’s guest post comes from Holly Hyams and Jade Montserrat from Scarborough Museums Trust, who explain how they created a ‘museum of the night’ experience in two venues – including an art boxing match!

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Scarborough Museums Trust comprises two very different cultural venues in Scarborough: the Rotunda Museum – the William Smith Museum of Geology, and Scarborough Art Gallery, both housed in impressive 19th century buildings. Inspired by the desire to forge links between the worlds of geology and art, we applied for Museums at Night’s Connect10 competition, hoping to win artist Julia Vogl to create a large scale geological map at the Rotunda Museum.

a moon rising at dusk above a museum roof

Moonrise above Scarborough’s Rotunda Museum (c) Scarborough Museums Trust

Though we narrowly lost out to Newcastle’s mighty Discovery Museum, taking part in the competition was a fantastically rewarding experience. With the votes pouring in, it was incredibly encouraging to perceive the public’s support for our idea, whilst the competitive element helped create a real buzz amongst our staff. Having come second in the voting, we were determined not to let our supporters down and decided to stage alternative events both at the Rotunda Museum and Scarborough Art Gallery.

Exterior photo of an art gallery at night

Scarborough Art Gallery after dark (c) Scarborough Museums Trust

At the Rotunda, we took Museums at Night back to basics by creating a museum ‘of the night’. Museums have a unique atmosphere after hours, and we capitalised on this by displaying a selection of unexpected objects from our collections which wouldn’t usually be exhibited at the Rotunda. For one night only, taxidermy creatures of the night – owls, foxes, badgers, and hedgehogs – jostled with Victorian night-dresses, whale-oil lamps and candle-snuffers.

A taxidermy hedgehog

Hedgehog on display (c) Scarborough Museums Trust

The mood was enhanced through low-level lighting and the use of battery-operated candles which flickered eerily amongst the displays. The concept was simple but effective: visitors enjoyed the thrill of the strange atmosphere and having access to the Scarborough Collections – the name given to all the objects acquired by the Borough over the years and cared for by the Trust on behalf of the town.

taxidermy stuffed owl

Close encounter with an owl from the Scarborough Collections (c) Scarborough Museums Trust

At the Art Gallery, we again took advantage of the late night opening in order to offer visitors something different. Collaborating with Crescent Arts, a visual arts collective which supports emerging contemporary artists, we decided to host an evening of poetry and performance featuring local poet Jo Reed, Future Shorts films and an art book exchange, with events happening simultaneously at both venues (Crescent Arts being located conveniently within the basement area of Scarborough Art Gallery).

A group of smiling people in costumes

Art KO boxing match competitors (c) Scarborough Museums Trust

Thanks to the creative genius of Stuart Cameron, Director of Crescent Arts, the concept of the Big Art KO Boxing Match was born. A tongue-in-cheek performance, the boxing match involved staff members from the two organisations donning costumes and metaphorically ‘slugging it out’ in a makeshift boxing ring, whilst answering questions on art trivia. Light-heartedly embodying the age-old dispute between realist and conceptualist art, a pretend tryst between Scarborough Art Gallery and Crescent Arts was a novel way of celebrating our collaboration on the night, and one which certainly got the public talking!

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Two smiling women in a galleryJade Montserrat is currently a resident artist at Crescent Arts, Scarborough and works as Learning Assistant for Scarborough Museums Trust. She read for a History of Art BA at the Courtauld Institute of Art, followed by an MA in Drawing at Norwich University College of Arts.

Holly Hyams has worked and volunteered at a number of museums in London and Yorkshire, including the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising, the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Whitby Museum and York Castle Museum. She loves living on the North Yorkshire Coast and is currently Learning Manager at Scarborough Museums Trust.

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Thanks, Holly and Jade!

If you’re reading this and would like to write a guest post for the arts and heritage sector about any aspect of event programming, audience development or marketing, please email rosie@culture24.org.uk.

More feedback from Museums at Night 2013

Artwork with silver song lyrics on wood

‘Song (Be Bop)’, 2013, Silver leaf on wood (c) Susan Forsyth. Part of a new series of works by Connect10 artist and Zusammen choir leader Susan Forsyth, inspired by commemoration and song

We’re loving finding out more about how Museums at Night 2013 went for all the participating venues, visitors and participating artists, and we’re currently looking at responses to our venue and visitor surveys. Here’s some of the feedback we’ve received.

One reflective quote recorded before the event at Scunthorpe’s 20-21 Visual Arts Centre conveys the excitement behind the scenes of their very unusual conceptual art happening, created by artists Cullinan Richards:

It’s brilliant how everyone has come together on this from an initial idea. Most of the boxing club have never visited us before or are even interested in art and none of us knew much about boxing rings but are now learning fast as well as the history of disco lighting. It’s a bizarre collision of worlds!

The crashed cars are still happening as well and will be a nice statement piece before you enter the building.

And these are some of the most extraordinary risk assessments I’ve ever done.

This is a great photo story from the British Postal Heritage Museum Store.

Blogger Crumbolina had never managed to visit Bristol’s SS Great Britain before … until their Museums at Night event

The Beast in the Cellar: Benjamin D. Brooks shares the talk he gave about paleontologist Mary Anning at Lyme Regis Museum’s after-hours event.

A group of young people smiling in front of paintings

Art students at Corinium Museum after hours (c) Corinium Museum

Corinium Museum was “invaded” with contemporary art by University of the West of England students, and reported:

We were really thrilled with the response from visitors. Even when a piece wasn’t to their taste, it sparked comment and conversation. A number of visitors said the new look to galleries made them look at the collections in a different and more focussed way and caused them to notice objects they hadn’t seen before.

Emily Beeson, Culture24 intern and editor of Young Gold Teeth, wrote about getting hands-on making her own artworks as part of the National Portrait Gallery‘s Edgar Heap of Birds Museums at Night late opening. 

Blogger Sarah gave 10/10 to the experience of watching ‘Goodbye Lenin‘ in the unusual setting of York’s Cold War Bunker.

And finally, Gladstone Pottery Museum‘s night of music and spoken word poetry in their historic kilns come to life in this video:

If you have photos or stories to share from a Museums at Night event, please send them across to rosie@culture24.org.uk.

Adam Clarke on bringing history to life with Minecraft for Museums at Night

Our latest guest post comes from Adam Clarke, freelance artist, film maker and games-for-learning consultant. Adam describes how he got involved in the Tullie House Art Gallery Takeover, and the part Minecraft has to play in engaging new audiences with heritage and history.

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I had the opportunity to get involved in the Tullie House Art Gallery Takeover/Museums At Night project after I talked with the team about Minecraft and how it can be used to create engaging heritage and historical narratives. Excited by the possibilities this opened up, I was invited to work with the project team to create the event. Together, we set about filling the gallery space in a way that had never happened before.

Minecraft at Tully House

Visitors playing with paper craft and Minecraft at Tullie House. Photo (c) Gavin Wilson /  bangyourdrum

Using six massive interactive projections from the video game Minecraft featuring my topographical Cumbrian landscape, including a partially constructed Hadrian’s Wall, we gave people the opportunity to visit an online Minecraft world and play live with other people from around the world.

The museum archaeologist showed Roman artifacts not usually on display, giving people a chance to discover them in a new and intimate way. He also took time during the evening to build a Roman Fort and parts of Hadrian’s Wall in Minecraft with guests.

people at a screen

Minecraft in the Museum. Photo (c) Gavin Wilson / bangyourdrum

We had exclusive access to the Voxelbox server, possibly the best Minecraft creators on the planet. We were joined in person by Stephen Reid from A Higher Place, who talked about games-based learning.

We placed large glass bowls of Lego on plinths to play with, there were tables with paper-craft activities to engage in and even historical costumes for participants to get creative with dressing up and drawing. To set the ambience, there was a DJ filling the space with live mixing, and a bar.

Big screens, paper-craft, glitter, Lego, colourful lights, music, artifacts, archaeology and amazing creators all got to work to turn the museum into something truly magical, but perhaps the most magical element of all were the people who came along and completed that transformation.

People from all walks of life came together – all different ages, with different backgrounds and involvement with museums, technology, games and creative arts, including the curious few who wanted to find out what on earth it was all about – and everyone got involved. I saw people making, engaging, discovering, playing, sharing ideas and conversations, hatching plans, re-imagining familiar landscapes and finding their way around completely new spaces. Everyone was having a go, and having fun.

Artists at work

The Art Gallery Takeover. Photo (c) Gavin Wilson / bangyourdrum

I am currently developing projects using 3D printed artworks in public spaces, with a special interest in museums. Museums are traditionally about housing the intimate objects of the past. When we visit a museum, we engage in a dialogue with these objects and the people who once made them, used them or collected them. By making 3D printing accessible, museums can open up that dialogue in ways that empower the individual and community to create their own objects, their own living history and dialogues with the present, the past and the future.

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portrait-Adam Clarke

Adam Clarke is a freelance artist, film-maker and games-for-learning consultant and instructor. He has many years experience in running creative workshops for schools, museums, hospitals and within community settings, often pulling together his skills from traditional arts, digital animation/film and virtual simulations/games to deliver fun and participant led work. His is passionate about the environment, history, community participation, video games and new technology.

Thanks Adam! If you’d like to write a guest post or case study for this blog about any aspect of event planning or marketing in arts or heritage venues, please drop me a line at rosie@culture24.org.uk or call me on 01273 623336.

Museums at Night event review: Holly Parsons reports from the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum

This year’s Museums at Night was special for the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum as it was their first time participating in the festival. Museums at Night intern Holly Parsons went along on the Saturday night to discover more.

View of a field with trees and buildings in the distance.

Looking across a field towards some of Weald & Downland Museum’s buildings at dusk. All photos courtesy Holly Parsons.

The Weald and Downland Museum promised an evening that would explain how people who lived in their collection of historic buildings would have experienced the hours of dusk and darkness in the past – and the event did not disappoint!

The night began in the museum’s newly-thatched barn, where around 70 visitors meet and were split into groups of around 15 for the tour. Each tour group set off from a different starting location so that tours wouldn’t clash, and progressed around the site exploring six different traditional houses and various other stopping points.

Each building was lit as it would have been traditionally, with fires and candle light. Poplar Cottage is a rescued building from around 1630, which was built without a chimney. Its fire pit had very little ventilation, making the tiny two-room cottage very smoky inside: although this created an authentic atmosphere, it became uncomfortable to stay in the room as smoke got in our eyes!

A man stands out side a building at night

On the tour outside Victorian cottages, guided by a lantern

The tour progressed onwards to take in a shepherd’s caravan, cottages and barns. As the evening progressed and darkness fell, the reality of night-time in the past took hold … especially as we walked through the woodland and learned about the man trap, which would have been used to catch poachers on the estates.

The tour guide was very knowledgeable and knew vast amounts of information not only about the buildings and the people who lived in them, but also about the historical background of the period.

The weather also really helped to establish the atmosphere: there was a chill in the air but it wasn’t too cold, and we were kept warm by the fires in the buildings and walking between the locations. The night was clear, with some natural moonlight, so although we used torches they weren’t essential. This gave us the chance to see some of the wildlife on site, including bats and owls.

Two women in historic dress.

Some of the visitors were dressed for the occasion.

Overall, the night was a great success and the Weald and Downland Museum is worth a visit during the day or night!

It’s Elemental: Team Culture24 take on the UCL Museums at Night treasure hunt!

The Museums at Night Festival was in to its second day. The staff at Culture24 had taken on bats, community sculpture and cocktails. Representing Culture24, Jack, Holly and Amy were preparing for the real challenge; attempting to win the UCL Museum treasure hunt.

The event started at 6:30 in a small lecture theatre, taking our three treasure seekers back to their University days. The winners of this year’s event would be rewarded with the prize of £40 in Foyle’s vouchers; a great way to encourage eager museum book worms and bring out a competitive spirit.

The task was simple; the C24 team had to race around the four UCL Museums, seeking the answers to clues. Ultimately, the answers would give them an anagram and a set of numbers. Once they solved the word puzzle, they would have a phone number, which once rung, would win them the treasure hunt.

C24 team started on their travels round the four museums trying to solve the clues at each site. When they came to the Petrie Museum they found the clues notably harder. The difficulty was increased by the fact that there were several red herrings.

treasure hunt

Team C24 puzzling over the clues at the UCL Treasure Hunt

Everyone had been instructed to report to the Grant Museum promptly at 8pm for the final part of the hunt. The room was packed with teams attempting to work out the anagram, gesturing wildly at the taxidermy with their pencils.

“Treasure map! Tyrannosaurus!” Amy squeaked excitedly, causing a slight tremor in the bat skeleton behind them. From over the crowd, a wine glass shattered, and one of the museum staff jumped. “I hope that was a glass and not a jar of…anything” she said, gaily.

Suddenly, from behind the ape skeletons leaned insouciantly on the upper railing a phone rang out. Despite their valiant efforts to get all the clues right, C24 had been narrowly beaten by another team.  But they all agreed over a lovely glass of Zoology Museum wine that they had thoroughly enjoyed themselves.