Our latest guest post is by Rebecca Clay from the Museum of Army Flying! Rebecca tells us a bit more about the museum’s plans for a late night behind-the-scenes tour of this very special venue…
The Museum of Army Flying is a medium sized military museum between Andover and Salisbury. It houses a range of Army aircraft, and is a charitable trust that employs a close knit team of professionals to conserve and communicate its incredible collection.
Programming for specific audiences
This time last year, after being in post for about a month, it became obvious to me that two target audiences would benefit most from an events programme at the Museum of Army Flying: Family and Community and Traditional Culture Vultures.
I had experience of running evening and afternoon events in previous employment positions, and knew that if marketed correctly they could be incredibly successful and rewarding. With this in mind I planned a two year programme of events to tie in with anniversaries and seasonal occasions.
One of the events I really wanted to run was a Culture24 Museums at Night event, specifically a behind-the-scenes tour that would give the ‘die hard’ fans of the museum everything they could dream of.
Entitled ‘The Curator’s Cupboard’, I wanted this event to open up some of the unseen treasures of our collections, including items from World War One flying aces, a sure fire hit with our enthusiast audience.
Overcoming challenges and adding value
One challenge that we’ll face by running a behind-the-scenes, out-of-hours event is the restrictions that have to be placed on numbers. This, coupled with the costs of keeping the museum open after hours, means that we have to charge more than we have for our previous events.
However, this limitation actually had a positive effect for our team, as we plotted together how to make it bigger and better, heaping added value and once-in-a-lifetime experiences into the event to ensure that people weren’t frightened off by the price tag.
This included planning a series of mini-talks around the museum by veteran pilots and experts about the different aircraft we have on display. One of these will be about our experimental aircraft, which are super quirky and a definite crowd pleaser.
A unique selling point – “I’ve flown that one!”
A remarkable bit of good fortune struck when one of our volunteers mentioned he thought he had flown two of the aircraft on display in the museum. I stress that he had not only flown the aircraft type but the actual aircraft on display (he checked the tail numbers against his log book) so he can give visitors first hand knowledge about our aircraft during their working life.
To publicise the event I have gone all out – well, as all out as you can go without a budget! The press release has gone out and has already been featured in some of our local newspapers. I will also issue a photocall invitation to local press photographers, so the publicity will hopefully have a life even after the event takes place.
I also issue posters and leaflets for every event and send them to local libraries, museums and Tourist Information Centres. My top tip for getting radio coverage is to upload all your events onto the radio station’s calendar on their website; they’ll often mention them if they get a chance.
To say we are really looking forward to the event is an understatement – I often get more excited by our objects than the public!
Here’s to Museums at Night!
Rebecca Clay has worked at the Museum of Army Flying as Marketing and Audience Development for nearly a year. Previously she worked in Marketing and Project Officer roles for Creswell Crags in North Nottinghamshire (currently shortlisted for World Heritage Status).
Rebecca was awarded her CIM Professional Diploma in Marketing in 2010, and also has an Honours degree in Cultural Heritage from the University of Manchester. She is a self-professed geek interested in all things web, particularly WordPress websites and social media.
Thanks, Rebecca! 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 at your arts or heritage venue, I’d love to publish your guest posts as well. Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.