Monthly Archives: May 2011

This year’s Museums at Night Flickr group is live!

We’re not running a Flickr competition for Museums at Night photos this year – the spirit of the campaign is about collaboration, not competition! However, there is a Museums at Night 2011 Flickr group here Everyone who took photos of any Museums at Night events this year is warmly invited to click through and share their pictures: we’d like to use some of them to illustrate articles about this year’s campaign, and to promote Museums at Night in future.

Posters and surveys

Thanks to everyone who’s already posted their visitor survey forms back to us – and to Anson Engine Museum, who also sent us a copy of their A5-sized poster:

A colourful Museums at Night poster from Anson Engline Museum

Anson Engine Museum's promotional poster

In return, here’s the mini-poster I designed and put on display in our office building’s shared noticeboard. We share the building with a number of very technical companies, so I hoped that including a QR code might pique people’s interest. If you haven’t used QR codes before, the black and white pattern can be scanned by people with smartphones: it takes them through to a website, in this case the Museums at Night homepage. You can generate your own QR codes for free using websites such as

A poster advertising Museums at Night featuring a thrilling QR code

My own attempt at creating a Museums at Night poster, featuring a QR code

And the latest reason on my long, long list of Reasons I love working with museum and gallery folk – today I’d like to thank the four thoughtful people who, on trying to fill in our survey for venues who ran Museums at Night events, took the time to send me a polite email letting me know that one question didn’t quite make sense. You’re completely right – the logic of the question wasn’t set up correctly, but we’ve now made the change.

If you ran a Museums at Night event, we’re keen to find out how the experience was for you. How many visitors came along? What went well? How could we improve what we offer you next year? Please let us know by filling in our venue survey here.

Listen to Rosie ramble!

Here’s a link to my extended interview about Museums at Night with Paul Mex of Radio Reverb (my bit starts at 25:54). I was determined to stay on track and plug every single Museums at Night event in Sussex – but somehow we also ended up discussing James Brown, Motorhead and messages from beyond the grave. It was lots of fun chatting away and attempting to return to the key points I wanted to make!

Thanks for an amazing Museums at Night campaign!

Museums at Night is over for another year – and wasn’t it amazing? The campaign which has been consuming our every waking thought for months finally culminated in an action-packed weekend of discovery and delight: on Friday, Saturday and Sunday around 457 events took place at 352 venues. This is absolutely fantastic – to stage over 100 more events than last year, in a time of such economic difficulty, is a resounding endorsement of the campaign.

London Canal Museum tweeted, “Museums at Night has been a tremendous success at London Canal Museum, we have had hundreds of visitors!” The Museum of English Rural Life was equally delighted: “Great atmosphere tonight! MERL hasn’t seen anything like this in 60 years! Thanks to the amazing dancers who’ve entertained us!!”

The front of a building at night with words projected onto it

Mew Lab animation projected on to the front of Watford Museum's 18th century facade. Picture courtesy Dave Parker.

We would like to thank all the staff and volunteers from museums, galleries, libraries and heritage sites who staged events – it’s wonderful working with such inspired and imaginative people, who are passionate about bringing their collections to life in new ways. I hope that the capacity-building legacy of the campaign will last throughout the year. If you ran a Museums at Night event this year, please tell us how many visitors came, and how the experience was for you by filling in our venue survey:

2011 will be the most successful year of the campaign so far – members of the public found it easier than before to find events in their area, and all the visitor feedback we’ve received so far has been incredibly positive. @HelenDuffett tweeted: “Loved it! Went to @ltmuseum and Bank of England Museum. Great initiative!” Meanwhile, @NorwichChamps rejoiced: “Standing on the tower of St John’s Catholic cathedral in Norwich as part of the Museums at Night event. Huzzah!”

If you went to a Museums at Night event, please let us know what you thought by filling in our brief visitor survey:

Project manager Nick Stockman and I would like to thank all the hardworking Culture24 staff who helped the campaign to come together, in particular the ever-resourceful Larna Pantrey-Mayer and Ruth Harper. Stephen Bradley built the Museums at Night event-finding widget, while Richard Moss, Ben Miller and the rest of the editorial team wrote numerous articles promoting the campaign. Signe Troost has been a diligent and cheerful campaign intern, while Cath Hume, together with Tom Windsor and Pam Jarvis from Sussex Arts Marketing, are now working on the campaign evaluation.

We’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of media coverage Museums at Night received this year: congratulations to all the venues who got local publicity, and to PR coordinator Pandora George of Bullet PR, who worked incredibly hard to arrange national and regional press, radio and TV coverage.

Thanks to the staff of BBC History Magazine, and everyone who distributed the printed Guides to Museums at Night. We also appreciate the work of photographer Pal Hansen, our photoshoot locations the Horniman Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum, and our fabulous models.

Two children clutching masks, underneath a display of masks

Two of our models discover masks after dark at the Horniman. Image (c) Pal Hansen

We’re very grateful to all our campaign partners for their support: campaign funders the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and Arts Council England; media partner Sky Arts; Visit England; the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; Future Shorts; the National Trust; English Heritage; the Historic Houses Association, the Arts Marketing Association; the Festival of Museums; the Museums Association; and the National Museum Directors’ Conference.

Sky Arts kindly subsidised sleepover tickets at 5 venues around the UK, while Future Shorts curated a short film programme that ran at 11 venues. We’re very grateful to these partners, and hope to collaborate on similar opportunities in future.

Campaign ambassador Lauren Laverne not only spoke movingly about Museums at Night at the launch event, but also penned an enthusiastic article about the campaign for Grazia magazine. Thanks to Historic Royal Palaces and the Kensington Palace staff, WILDWORKS Theatre Company and Blue Strawberry Catering for making the launch such a success!

We’re also very grateful to our competition partners Faber & Faber and the Faber Archive; the Victoria & Albert Museum; Erin O’Connor; Historic Royal Palaces and Lucy Worsley.

I’d like to thank everyone who wrote inspiring guest posts for this blog, connected with us and sent encouraging messages on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and who phoned the office or sent emails to ask me questions about things that I hadn’t made clear. I’d also like to thank Jacqueline Chiffert and the Nuit des Musees team for their encouragement – and my friends and family for their patience!

Finally, Sky Arts sent camera crews to record the action in ten different venues which were staging Museums at Night events: they’re currently editing the footage down to make a 30 minute documentary, which will premiere on June 3 2011 on Sky Arts 2 at 6:30 pm. Watch the trailer here!

What are Museums at Night events like? Culture24 staff share their impressions

Late yesterday afternoon, as Museums at Night weekend finally kicked off, Culture24 staff shared a bottle of cava and cheerfully toasted the biggest ever Museums at Night. Then we went our separate ways to check out the events – and here are some of our highlights!

people gathering outside a building covered in climbing plants

Visitors gather at Charleston

Museums at Night project manager Nick Stockman was bowled over by the beautiful atmosphere of Charleston in the evening: knowledgeable tour guides, soft music, friendly visitors and a house and garden designed and created to satisfy an artist’s eye made for a magical experience at this historic house. Read Nick’s story, and see more of his photos, here.

A woman playing a violin in a room painted with murals

Music brought Charleston to life as the sun set

Art writer Mark Sheerin stepped on board the Birmingham Art Bus where he met a gang of eager culture vultures, rocketing through the Ikon Gallery, the RBSA, mac (the Midlands Art Centre) and the Barber Institute. He even ended up at an old-school rave in Digbeth’s VIVID – proof of the incredible diversity of Museums at Night events! Read Mark’s story, and see his photos, here.

Staff writer Ben Miller zipped between three very different events in London: discovering the naval history of HQS Wellington on the Thames, debating horror films among the ancient artefacts with an audience of UCL students at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, and finally discovering the music, dance, and glamorous hair and makeup of the 1940s in the bustling Churchill War Rooms! Read Ben’s story, and see his photos, here.

As for me? I went to the late openings of two video art installations curated by Lighthouse in Brighton which I’d meant to check out earlier, but had never found the time to get to. Kutlug Ataman‘s screens full of tumbling water are incredibly compelling amid the massive, darkened space of the disused Old Municipal Market.

However, it was Lynette Wallworth’s interactive video art at the University Gallery that moved me most: you step up to a lifesize dark screen, and press your hand to a flickering blue light. From the darkness, a woman slowly steps forward into the light, and presses her hand to yours in acknowledgement, before returning to the darkness. It felt incredibly powerful to experience these encounters on my own – more so when I read some of the moving stories of the tribulations these women had survived.

Finally, I was part of a wonderful communal experience: waving in front of Everything Looks Beautiful in Slow Motion, created by Nic Sandilands and South East Dance, and projected out from the Lighthouse building. A bright light shines across the street for about 30 seconds, and captures the passers-by on video. Then this video is replayed in grainy black-and-white slow motion. I chatted with families with children bouncing in and out of the spotlight, confused tourists dashing in and out of the camera beams and chuckling uncontrollably, and a confused drunken gentleman who clearly found the experience very disconcerting: all human life was there.

And one extra review: my parents went to the Victorian Soiree at the Courtauld Institute in London, a gallery they’d never been to before. Not only did they find the building fascinating, but Mum was astonished to find herself face to face with the Van Gogh’s famous self -portrait with a bandaged ear, and realise that this was the original she’d only seen reproduced before. Their highlights included the live music, the Victorian parlour games, and a talk about some of the artworks by expert Ayla Lapine. “In theory,” Mum commented over the phone, “we could go to this sort of thing every week – but we don’t ever seem to get around to it!” And that’s why Museums at Night is so popular, I think – the marketing campaign leading up to this one weekend gently nudges so many people, prompting them to try visiting new arts and heritage places.

Have you been to any Museums at Night events? We’d love to hear what you thought! Leave a comment or drop me an email at – and don’t forget there are many more events taking place tonight and tomorrow night! Find the complete event listings here:

The latest Museums at Night roundup – it’s all go!

Want to see and hear some of the coverage the campaign has had so far?

Here’s what went out on ITV’s breakfast show Daybreak yesterday morning: – I think we should all give Nick Hewitt from the Explosino! Museum of Naval Firepower a big pat on the back for his enthusiasm and for saying such wonderful things about Museums at Night!

We’re delighted that Museums at Night was a lead story in Time Out magazine (and apparently also became the top story on their website – Londoners love their after-hours arts and heritage!), and I’ve lost track of the amount of newspaper and magazine coverage we had too!

I was interviewed chatting enthusiastically for Radio 5 Live – my interview begins 24 minutes in. The radio piece I’m most proud of is this interview with Radio Devon: I’d prepared ahead of time, and the interviewer, David Fitzgerald, let me get into my stride. My part begins at 2:06:40, and after me, you’ll hear Dee Martin of Torre Abbey going in to more detail about their Live Action Cluedo event.

Nick was interviewed by the unusual DJ double-act of Ken Livingstone and David Mellor on LBC Radio this lunchtime, talking about Museums at Night happenings in the capital tonight. One of the events he gave a plug to was the bat walk at Whitehall, Cheam: and now we know that radio publicity works, as just a few minutes ago their local museum service Sutton Heritage proudly tweeted that this event had sold out!

A Twitter update from Sutton Heritage

Radio publicity is instantly effective!

We’ll also be on Radio 5 Live from 8pm tonight. It’s all very exciting!

Urgent Museums at Night PR opportunity: want extra publicity?

URGENT: An extra, last-minute opportunity has come up for one lucky Museums at Night venue to get some major publicity tonight: but the conditions, (as always) aren’t easy to fulfil.

IF you’re a regional (non-London) venue that’s putting on a Museums at Night event tonight

AND you’ll be open to the public between 10pm and 10:30pm tonight

AND a BBC radio crew are already covering your event

please call PR wunderkind Pandora George right now on 07729 469220!

Guest post: Cat Gibbard presents Newlyn Art Gallery’s Book of the Night

MUSEUMS AT NIGHT IS HERE, PEOPLE! Tune in to Sky News at 1:45 to see the Director of the Churchill War Rooms discussing it! Everything is frantically exciting at C24 Towers right now, but I’m keen to share this guest blog post from Newlyn Art Gallery’s Education Officer Cat Gibbard about a really unusual creative Museums at Night event: all-night printing and bookbinding down in Cornwall!


Things are beginning to take shape in preparation for our Museums at Night marathon creative event, A Book of the Night.

The current inhabitants of our pop –up studio, which forms an integral part of The Exchange’s current exhibition Print! ( are the illustrators and designers Alexandra Higglet and Georgina Hounsome. Check out their blog, where they’re writing about what it’s like being on a week-long artists’ residency at The Exchange!

A woman doing letterpress printing

Alexandra Higglet's letterpress printing. Image courtesy of Studio Number Six.

To bring our Museums at Night plans together, we’re making the most of having these experts around. Alex and George are going to lead a merry band of creatives  through the night from Saturday to Sunday, designing and printing pieces of artwork that will ultimately be bound into a book, making aunique record of the night.

Although we’re all relishing the challenge of only having 12 hours in which to create something beautiful, as the time approaches, anxieties about the physical test of a sleepless night have begun to creep to the fore – we’re hoping that night-time nibbles from Newlyn Cheese and Charcuterie, a few glasses of wine and some upbeat music will keep the old grey matter stimulated.

People performing in a dimly lit space

A night-time performance in Newlyn Art Gallery's basement, part of the 2010 Fluxus Now Symposium. Image courtesy Newlyn Art Gallery.

At the last count, 23 intrepid people had registered to take part in this very unusual printing challenge! Although their identities will remain under wraps until they meet each other for the first time on the night, I can reveal that their ages range from 19 to 83 and amongst the artists, printmakers and writers we’ll also be welcoming a musician and an architect!

PZ Conservation will be popping by as the action gets underway on Saturday, no doubt bringing with them some words of wisdom on the technicalities of producing a book. They’ll reappear on Sunday morning to gather up the pages ready for binding – and to applaud those who are still standing!

A woman sitting at a desk

Cat Gibbard

Cat Gibbard is Education Officer at Newlyn Art Gallery. You can visit Newlyn Art Gallery’s website here, or connect with them on Twitter (where we may see live updates during the Book of the Night event) at @NewlynExchange.

Museums at Night – coming soon to TV and radio near you!

Just a quick heads-up about some of the upcoming publicity for Museums at Night that our fantastic PR guru, Pandora George of Bullet PR, has managed to drum up.

Nick recorded a brief interview with Radio 4 this afternoon, and another for Radio Cornwall which will go out at 11pm tonight. I was taken off-guard tonight and ended up recording another for Radio 5 Live, which will go out at around 5AM as part of the Friday morning breakfast show. Nick will be interviewed again for Radio London at 7:25 tomorrow, and will be talking with Ken Livingstone on his Saturday afternoon show.

I’ve already recorded one extended chat with Radio Reverb, the Brighton station, about all the events taking place in Sussex (and my love of Motorhead). And tomorrow afternoon I’ll be in conversation with Radio Devon, along with Dee Martin from Torre Abbey who will be discussing their Live Action Cluedo event!

If anybody else would like to interview us, please contact our PR goddess Pandora on 07729 469220 or email We are both very chatty and would be delighted to discuss any aspect of the campaign! Meanwhile, if you have the chance to be interviewed, that’s great – all we ask is that you try to mention the address of the Museums at Night website,,

Tomorrow is a big day: I’ll be manning the @Culture24 twitter account and livetweeting along with the ITV Daybreak programme tomorrow morning. The Museums at Night venue the crew will be reporting live from is Explosion! The Museum of Naval Firepower in Gosport. We’re expecting this feature to start at around 7:15 in the morning – so if you’re awake at this shockingly early hour, please do tune in to support the Explosion staff!

Guest post: Ailsa Strachan from Paisley Museum & Observatory on their star-gazing Saturn-day!

With only one day to go till Museums at Night 2011 begins, I’m delighted to share today’s guest post about one of the many astronomy-themed events that’ll be taking place across the UK. When Ailsa Strachan wrote this article she was Duty Officer at Paisley Museum – we wish you all the best in future, Ailsa, and I’m sure the rest of your cosmic team will put on a fantastic Saturn-day night!


a photo of an enormous telescope

The Grubb Telescope at Coats Observatory (c) Paisley Museum collections, Renfrewshire Council

Paisley Museum and Observatory is holding its first ever Museums at Night event on Saturday 14th May 2011! As well as being a great opportunity to be involved in a nationwide event, one of the most exciting things for us is the amazing publicity Museums at Night gets. As a local authority venue we are limited in our access to social networking sites, and Museums at Night provides us with a great opportunity to say ‘Check it out on Facebook/Twitter/etc’!

We decided we wanted to hold our event in our Observatory. In winter we run two night-time viewings a week for visitors – so we thought that for our first taste of Museums at Night we would stick to what we already know, while adding in loads of extra fun stuff! When John, our science curator, told us Saturday 14th would be the perfect time to see Saturn, we were off: a plan was quickly realised – everything would be Saturn inspired!

An impressive observatory building with a dome, seen at twilight

The Coats Observatory at Paisley Museum (c) Paisley Museum collections, Renfrewshire Council

The Museum and Observatory will close at 4pm, but we will open again from 6pm – 10pm. There was one obvious fall back to our plan – the sky won’t be dark enough see Saturn until about 8.30pm. We won’t let that stop us though! We will celebrate Saturn without it being there – we know it’ll be worth waiting for!

We are still working to finalise our timetable of events for the evening (to see if some of our more adventurous ideas will be possible) – so watch this space! The plan so far is: between 6pm and 8pm we are aiming our event at families with activities for children, a film on Saturn and planetarium shows.  In Paisley, we have a lot of keen astronomers who we see regularly during the winter viewing nights, so we were conscious that we didn’t want this event aimed purely at families. So come 8pm we’ll be opening the dome and getting the telescope set for Saturn! For visitors joining us later at night and those families who aren’t yet ready for bed, we’ll have our big telescope set on Saturn and more telescopes in the garden looking at stars!

So get set for Saturn-day!!

A smiling woman giving two thumbs up

Ailsa Strachan gives two thumbs up for astronomy

Ailsa Strachan is the former Duty Officer from Paisley Museum. You can connect with Paisley Museum and the Coats Observatory through their website:

Guest post: Thunderbirds are Go, says Paul Hudson from the RAF Museum London

We’re delighted at the sector’s response to the offer of TV publicity we made yesterday afternoon – it was a really quick turnaround but PR coordinator Pandora has been handling the flurry of enquiries with aplomb! We were also incredibly chuffed this morning to see that Museums at Night campaign ambassador Lauren Laverne has used her column in the latest edition of Grazia magazine to shine a light on the weekend by writing a thoughtful appreciation of why it’s so exciting to visit arts and heritage sites after dark.

On a personal note, I’m delighted that the video interview I filmed over Skype with the Nuit des Musées team is up on their website – in fact, I’m one of the Faces of the Night! It’s an enormous honour. To see me enthusing about the  museum exhibits I’m most fond of (it’s strange how skeletons and frisky dogs stick in the mind) head to the Nuit des Musées website, scroll down and click on my smiling face on the right hand side!

Today’s guest post comes from Paul Hudson, Head of Marketing at the RAF Museum in Hendon, North London, who explains the process his team went through to devise their FAB Museums at Night Thunderbirds extravaganza!


This year is the first year that the Royal Air Force Museum in Colindale will be taking part in Museums at Night. Accordingly, staff decided that we should celebrate this fact in as imaginative manner as possible, to make the evening truly special.

We could do a 1940s evening – they are popular but no, people would expect that of us. How about a flypast and a late opening with a concert? Again, popular but something that we’ve already done. Also, a flypast would have to be early in the evening, which, whilst spectacular, would mean that the night would peak too early.

A green toy rocket

Thunderbird 2 flies past (c) David Sisson

What if we decided to give our regular adult visitors, particularly those who have children, the evening off – but allow them to re-connect with their inner-child for a few hours? What if we took them back to their own childhoods of the 60s and 70s? We all have hectic lifestyles, where we’re all running around balancing work with family responsibilities – and let’s face it life is rather challenging for us adults at the moment. A couple of hours off to recapture the excitement of being a child again – now that would be different….

A toy Captain Scarlet figure

Heroic institution Captain Scarlet (c) David Sisson

So what to do? Given that the RAF is a British institution that is respected the world over, it was clear that our evening had to be about a British institution which was respected by children growing up in the UK during the 60s and 70s. This institution had to reflect the excitement that our younger visitors show on meeting the RAF Personnel visiting the museum, particularly during our activities such as Helicopter Half Term and Search and Rescue Week.

We needed to put together an evening about an international institution devoted to search and rescue which children loved in the 60s and 70s… one that had a distinctly British feeling to it. There could be only one answer: Lady Penelope, Parker and International Rescue – The Thunderbirds!

A pastel pink retro toy car

FAB 1, Lady Penelope's car from Thunderbirds (c) David Sisson

So, on Saturday 14th May, the museum will be opening its doors to adults only until 11pm. Guests are invited to turn up in costume as their favourite Thunderbirds characters and meet Sylvia Anderson, the voice of Lady Penelope. At the same time we’ll be showing episodes from the series in the Museum’s cinema; there will be various models from the show on display, plus Captain Scarlett and an Eagle from Space 1999; and we’ll be running a play area filled with giant sized versions of classic children’s games such as ‘Operation’ and ‘Kerplunk!’

4 smiling people wearing 3D glasses

A sense of wonder: visitors enjoying the 3D cinema in the RAF Museum's Milestones of Flight Hangar. Image courtesy of the Trustees of the Royal Air Force Museum.

All in all it should be a fun evening and one where, personally, I hope that our visitors will re-awaken their inner child for a few short hours and re-examine our aircraft collection with the same wonderment I see, so often, on the faces of our younger visitors. How totally F.A.B!

A man in a suit beaming

Paul Hudson

Paul Hudson is the Head of Marketing at the Royal Air Force Museum – a place he first fell in love with after visiting it with his grandfather at the tender age of 11. A child of the 70s, he spent too many hours hiding behind sofas whilst watching Dr. Who – he blames ‘Planet of the Spiders’ for his rampant arachnophobia – and day-dreaming about being a member of the Thunderbirds crew when he should have been concentrating on his maths homework. His favourite toy, as a young boy, was a metal Corgi model of Thunderbird 2 which went with him everywhere from ages of 4 to 6 until he lost it on a beach holiday at Rhyl.

You can visit the RAF Museum’s website:, connect with them on Facebook, or keep up with their news on Twitter by following @RAFMuseum!

Urgent call: Museums at Night venues, who wants a TV camera crew?

A very special last-minute opportunity has come up for one Museums at Night venue to appear on TV! Please read on and make sure that your venue is able to meet all the TV crew’s requirements before expressing your interest.

ITV’s Daybreak, the breakfast television programme with Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley, are looking for a an exciting and atmospheric museum in England to feature live on air this Friday morning for a special Museums at Night item they are planning.

The idea is to film children having fun in a museum, interacting with exhibits, maybe doing an event that reflects your own Museums at Night event, and then snuggling down in sleeping bags for a sleepover.  It doesn’t matter if your museum isn’t actually putting on a sleepover for your official Museums at Night event – the programme would make it clear that the sleepover recreation is just for the sake of Daybreak only.

Filming would be required late Thursday evening from 8pm til 10pm – and they would then need access from 5.30am – 8.30am on Friday morning.

Daybreak would like to film at a museum with large, visually exciting and
accessible exhibits, so that they can record children interacting with them. They will also need the museum to supply 20 children to participate in the filming – so you will need to have links with local schools or groups.

It would be a bonus, but not essential, if your venue looks classically Gothic, as seen in the Night at the Museum films.

This is a fantastic opportunity for you to promote your museum in a positive light to Daybreak’s morning audience of up to a million and a half viewers, and be part of the Museums at Night PR campaign!

If you can fulfil all of these requirements, please call PR coordinator Pandora George on 07729 469220 by 12 noon tomorrow, Wednesday 11th May.