1 month to go! An honest look at how the Museums at Night campaign is going

A group of young people dressed in black perform for an audience in a historic room

Live performance at Bakewell Old House Museum

Over the last few days I’ve been calling as many Tourist Information Centres and participating museums as I can, to find homes for the 100,000 extra copies we’ve had printed of the BBC History Magazine’s colourful 16-page Guide to Museums at Night. So far, we’ve arranged distribution for 67,000 – only 33,000 to go! Want some? Email me: rosie@culture24.org.uk.

I’d like to thank everyone who called and emailed me volunteering to put copies out for their visitors, and particularly those who had ingenious ideas for distributing them! The Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust in Stratford-on-Avon are hoping to reach locals as well as tourists with their “Songs and Sonnets” outdoor event, so they’ll be dropping off Guides at their local libraries. Meanwhile, in Dorchester, where 6 museums will be opening late, they’re hoping to place copies of the Guides around local cafes. You can do the same!

It’s been really encouraging learning how venues have managed to secure advance publicity for themselves in local media – and particularly from people who are working through my 10 Step Promotional Checklist and finding it useful. It’s also been good in terms of answering questions: please, if you’re not sure about anything to do with Museums at Night, do call me on 01273 623336 or send me an email. I should be able to help, or if I can’t – as in the case of Fife Folk Museum, who needed a Victorian slideshow operator – by reaching out to Culture24’s connections on Twitter and Facebook, we may well be able to find someone to help you.

That’s the great thing about Museums at Night: you don’t have to be a big museum, or even have a large marketing budget of your own, to benefit from being part of this national campaign. What will get people interested is your ability to tell a story about your collections and your events.

Are you putting something on display for the first time? Are you allowing people a rare peek behind the scenes? Can we explore your venue differently – by torchlight, or candlelight, or by following a trail (such as the BBC Relic trail?) Is someone – a passionate curator or volunteer guide – going to tell a ghost story, dramatise a local legend, or lead people around your gardens looking for bats and moths … and if they’re excited about this, would they be willing to be interviewed on the radio, or by a local newspaper?

However, there’s one big opportunity that a lot of places are missing out on. If you’re planning a Museums at Night event, and you haven’t logged in and entered the event details into the Culture24 database, we cannot publicise it. Your event listing is exactly what appears on our site and in our press releases to the media, so make your event sound exciting. Help us to help you – let us know what you’re doing! If you’re not sure how to do this, I’ve written a guide to creating a Museums at Night event listing.

All your feedback is useful: many people have said it’s not easy to find event information on the Museums at Night site, and I’m happy to say that our developers are working on improving this. We should see the changes go live next week.

As for the remaining Guides to Museums at Night, they’re in boxes of 800 just waiting to be addressed and posted out. Please contact me and ask for some!

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