Guest post: Sally Lewis on Music, Movement and Machinery at the Museum of Bath at Work

ANNOUNCEMENT: There are only 4 days left to order your FREE copies of BBC History Magazine’s Guide to Museums at Night – please click here to request a box of brochures now!

Our latest guest post comes from Sally Lewis, a volunteer at the Museum of Bath at Work, who explains how a group of dancers are taking inspiration from the museum’s moving machinery to create a fascinating Museums at Night performance.


‘Music, Movement, Machinery!’ The title sums up the contemporary dance event I am helping organise at the Museum of Bath at Work for Museums at Night 2011.  I was involved in Museums at Night 2010 at another Bath venue so appreciate its popularity and potential for engaging new audiences. The yearly theme night is a highlight for the Bath and North East Somerset Museums group who work together to ensure a variety of events. In the past, this has included successful collaborations with performance groups in the centre of Bath.

A black and white photo of factory machinery

The general engineering machine shop as it was in 1969. Image (c) Museum of Bath at Work

During the holiday I was looking round the museum with my son Julian who is a dance student at Trinity Laban in London. We were struck by the atmosphere of the place which includes hundreds of original artefacts and set pieces, consisting of reconstructed workshops and offices where every day work went on, year in, year out.  As the museum also has a large(ish!) open space used for meetings, schools’ workshops and events, we thought it would be fun to stage a contemporary dance there. We suggested this idea to the Director of the museum who was enthusiastic and suggested that organising it for Museums at Night would be a good opportunity.

At a further visit Julian checked out the space available and took photos as rehearsals will need to be in London. He also took a close look at the working machinery at the museum which is periodically run for the benefit of visitors and will help provide an inspirational rhythm for the piece. These machines have a variety of repetitive movements in different directions which can be used as inspiration for dance motifs.

Julian says, ‘Myself and seven other students from college have now started to generate movement ideas based on the various images, descriptions and sounds of the machinery and in the coming weeks our dance piece will develop. Staging a dance outside London at an unusual venue is a challenge for us but we are confident it will be a valuable experience and an opportunity to perform in front of an unpredictable audience!’

Two girls dancing outdoors

Two BA dance theatre students from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Picture courtesy of Julian David Lewis.

We think this event will attract new visitors to the museum and provide its current audience with a new perspective on its role as part of the local cultural community.  We have a section on our Facebook page where we can update our fans as plans progress. The comment already on the wall of the event page says it all:- ‘cool!!! sounds amazing – am so there!’


Sally Lewis is a heritage professional and technical communicator currently volunteering at the Museum of Bath at Work, assisting the museum’s Director with marketing and development. Connect with her on LinkedIn here

Julian Lewis is an undergraduate student at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London.

Find out more about the Museum of Bath at Work at and find them on Facebook at

One response to “Guest post: Sally Lewis on Music, Movement and Machinery at the Museum of Bath at Work

  1. Pingback: Video: Dance inspired by machinery at the Museum of Bath at Work | Museums at Night Blog