The seventh in our series of guest posts comes from Sarah Butler, Family Activities Officer at Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings.
Running a night-time event at an outdoor museum comes with its own challenges, not least when you’re trying to appeal to families with children from toddlers to teens. But as all problem solvers will know, sometimes the most interesting ideas come out of the more unusual problems.
At Avoncroft, our events programme has always had the benefit of being wide and varied; we’re lucky in that respect because our main collection, our historic buildings, represents such a wide range of time periods and functions. We’ve got everything from a Tudor timber framed house to a 1960s fibreglass spire and plenty in between, so when you’re looking for inspiration you don’t have to look far.
We ran our first interactive mystery adventure for families for Museums at Night in 2009. “The Mysterious Disappearance of Professor A. von Croft” took families all around the site on the trail of the missing professor, who had been kidnapped by his arch nemesis, Baron E.Ville. Led by our staff, families were able to explore the site after closing time, learn some new skills and hopefully notice a few things about the site that they’d never seen before. And of course, we got to break the Professor out of his cell in our cell block!
For 2010 we’re mixing up the format a little. No-one is being kidnapped this year, but the ‘A. von Croft Family Singers’ are going to need some help tracking down their missing CDs so that their musical extravaganza show can go on. We’re keeping the puzzle solving that visitors loved last year and we’ve added in some song and dance routines, taking inspiration from our Cockpit which was a theatre at one point in its history. For that extra special memory, children that help to save the day can join in with the Singers’ performance, ending their evening adventure with a bang.
After all, isn’t getting involved what Museums at Night is really all about?
As the Family Activities Officer at Avoncroft Museum in Worcestershire, my job is mostly preparing events and activities for families and youth groups. That can mean anything from making paper hats and giant phoenix models to dressing up as Alice in Wonderland and writing puzzles for interactive mysteries. I have a really varied job, which I love! I also look after the museum’s Facebook page, and you can follow my tweeting for @AvoncroftMuseum on Twitter.
Thanks very much, Sarah! If you’ve read this and feel inspired to write a guest blog post for us, please drop me an email at email@example.com.