Monthly Archives: February 2010

Invitation to tender for Museums at Night 2010 evaluation

Jane Finnis, the director of Culture24, has asked me to share this invitation to tender – please, feel free to share this with anyone who may be interested!

Culture24 wish to commission a consultant to evaluate Museums at Night 2010 – a national campaign of late night openings at museums and galleries across the UK.   The campaign is coordinated by Culture24 and supported by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and takes place between 14th and 16th May 2010. The written report is to be produced by the end of July 2010.

Culture24 are looking to appoint a suitable freelance consultant or consultancy business to carry out the work. The finished report will be published on the Culture24 site.

The timetable for the project is as follows:

Deadline to submit complete bids – Monday March 22 2010

Project Team to review and shortlist candidates for interview – Monday March 22nd to Thursday 25th March

Interviews – Friday 26th March at Culture24 office in Brighton

Culture24 decides on the successful consultant – Monday 29th March

Initial meeting – week commencing 5th April (to be agreed)

Completion of report – End of July 2010

You can download the invitation to tender document here:

See the campaign in action on the Culture24 site

Read the evaluation from the 2009 campaign that was carried out internally by Culture24:

Strange coincidences: there’s no escaping museums!

Slices of lemon floating in a cup of tea

Hot lemon honey. Flickr photo by noodlesgirly, licensed under Creative Commons.

Yesterday I was at home with a streaming cold, and, mug of honey and lemon in hand, sat down in front of the TV – but what should I see?

On the antiques auction programme Flog It, the presenter was learning to make barley sugar at Beamish Museum in Co. Durham. On A Place in the Sun: Home or Away, a couple were deciding whether to retire on the South Coast, or in Corsica – but for no apparent reason, the programme also featured an old-style double decker bus from the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu.

When I turned the TV off and picked up a book of short stories inspired by Jane Austen (“Dancing with Mr Darcy” – don’t judge me!) I was surprised to see that they were picked from a competition run by Chawton House Library. I was also startled to notice that the publishers, Honno Press, are based at Aberystwyth Arts Centre.

Just coincidence – or the universe prodding me to get back to work? Who can say?

~ Rosie

Guest post: Jenny Walklate describes the experience of a museum at night

This is the second in a series of guest posts on the Museums at Night blog.

A black and white photo inside a white building with a glass roof

Inside the British Museum at Night. Flickr photo by Caro Wallis, licensed under Creative Commons.

‘Dark space…touches me directly, envelopes me, embraces me, even penetrates me, completely, passes through me.’ – Eugène Minkowski

There is no doubt that the world at night is a very different place.

Buried deep within us, on some level which is older than we can even imagine, is a wariness of this ‘night world’, this other place of shades, of limited vision and tangible absence of light. Waking in the night, I see my room as distant, objects and their locations as unclear and shifting. That which by the clear light of day is normal, even mundane, becomes bizarre and threatening, or vanishes without a trace.

Wakefulness in the night-world is somehow covert. We are not where, or when, we are meant to be. We have stayed awake beyond our alloted time, we are illicit presences, naughty children after lights out. And we may get in trouble for it.

In the daytime, then, when we enter a museum, we anticipate finding something to marvel at. We want to see magical and strange objects, to hear tales from different worlds and different times. We already enter into a place of wonders, which shifts into a stranger landscape yet when the lights go off, and night falls. Who has not, as a child, imagined their toys coming to life when they themselves are sleeping? Who has not walked past a darkened window and wondered what lay behind it and what it did when there was no-one there? Who could pass a museum at night without imagining the objects that lie within, in slow slumber or hurried and secret activity?

A photo looking up at a dinosaur skeleton in the dark

Carnivore. Flickr photo by Voxphoto, licensed under Creative Commons.

Imagine, then, if you will, the thrill of being let into this secret world, into the unseen nocturnal hours of a treasure house. Imagine yourself seated by firelight in an Iron Age roundhouse, rapt by a storyteller spinning yarns from pasts beyond memory. Imagine being able to gaze up at the gaping jaws of Tyrannosaurus Rex and watching his shadow on the wall, half-hoping that he begins to move. Imagine the Egyptian mummy, illuminated only by torchlight, following you into your dreams when you are safely tucked up in bed.

Imagine, then. I’ll let you. All that secret world open to you. Soon it will be. All you need to do is to stay awake.


Jenny Walklate is a research student in the University of Leicester’s School of Museum Studies, and is particularly interested in the material culture generated by museums and their processes, the temporal nature of the museum and its elements, digital heritage and museum display. She contributes to The Attic museum studies blog, and can be contacted at

If you’re inspired to write a guest post for us, please email Rosie on

ATTENTION ANIMATORS: £1,000 Prize for Creating Museums at Night Promo

Kanoti's Animation for Museums at Night 2009

Museums at Night 2009 Animation by Kanoti

One of the key things about the Museums at Night campaign is that it’s very cost-effective because it uses the existing infrastructure and established web presence of Culture24. To build on this the majority of the marketing effort is online – from using editorial and RSS feeds to online advertising and social media.  Last year we created a ‘viral’ animation to get people to the Museums at Night page. This year we’re working with leading animation agency Kanoti, who produced last year’s animation and who already run a showcase event for young animators, to run a competition. We were inspired by seeing some of the brilliant amateur stuff on YouTube and thought an open competition would be a great way to get some unusual, creative ideas – especially as Museums at Night is such a smorgasbord of events!   The best animation will be used as the official 2010 online advert and the creator will be given £1,000.  A win-win for everyone!

For more information go to the Museums at Night page and please let anyone know who might be interested.

Busiest week so far….we need more chocolate!

Girls enjoying dancing next to the sculptures at TATE LiverpoolA truly momentous week for us – no sooner had we celebrated reaching 100 events with a major chocolate fix than a quick look at the database showed over 130!  Rosie has been inundated with requests and enquires from venues and I have been madly pulling together all the images and event information for the press and BBC History Magazine.  The line up of events is fantastic and spectacularly diverse  – from “Beer and Skittles – Cheese and Pickles” (one of our favourite titles) at Bakewell Old House to Tate Liverpool’s “Sculpture Remixed” – silent disco on 70’s inspired dance floor. A big thank you if you are one of the many venues who rushed to get your event information in and send good quality images – it will really help with the PR push.

Templates for posters etc will be available next week and we’ll be announcing details of our animation competition.

Have a good weekend, Ruth

BBC History Magazine, Guide to Museums at Night – 12th FEB

We have just agreed a deal with BBC History Magazine for them to produce a Guide to Museums at Night.

This 16 page pull out will be inserted into the May issue of the magazine (published in April). An additional 100,000 copies of the Guide will be distributed widely by Culture24. Rather than simply containing listings, it will be editorially led and feature highlights and round ups, and will strongly push readers into visiting the Culture24 website in order to discover the complete Museums at Night listings.

In order for your event to be considered for the publication, please ensure that you add it into the DDE database by this Friday, 12th February (the same deadline as the European listings guide).

Also, if you have any high-resolution images that complement your event, please send them to Ruth ( as soon as possible. The images will give you a better chance of being included and will also be useful for any other media looking for Museums at Night events.

Step-by-step instructions on how to enter your Museums at Night events into the database are here, but if you have any other questions please contact Rosie!


A lovely chat with Ingrow Museum of Rail Travel

Children looking out of the window of an old train carriage

Children exploring a third-class train carriage at Ingrow

I’m putting together an article about how venues can improve their Museums at Night event listings: it’s not always easy to make a 100 word description of what you’re offering sound exciting.

What started out as a quick phonecall asking exactly what would be on display at the Vintage Carriages Trust’s Ingrow Museum of Rail Travel during their late opening turned into a really fascinating chat about all the films and TV programmes that the museum’s engines and carriages have featured in, from The Railway Children, made 40 years ago, to The Hours, starring Nicole Kidman, to Cranford, the BBC costume drama that fascinated the whole country. 

Paul Holroyd, who’s the Filming Liaison Officer, has kept lots of behind-the-scenes photos and call sheets, and will be on hand throughout the evening to answer questions and share stories about the productions their trains have featured in – over 60 at the last count.

This is one of the lovely things about working with museums, galleries and heritage sites: learning about heritage and culture from passionate volunteers and enthusiasts!