Monthly Archives: June 2011

Tell us what you’d like from a Museums at Night travelling roadshow!


A friendly man and woman. They're talented, they're confident, they're knowledgeable, and they could be coming soon to a town near you to spread the Museums at Night joy.

Nick and Rosie are planning to take Museums at Night on the road with regional training workshops

Many of you have told us that you’d like the chance to meet up in person, to network, learn from and share ideas with other venues who took part in Museums at Night. You asked – and we’ve listened! We’re building a case for a fundraising bid that would pay for outreach to key areas where we see evidence that participation levels could increase in 2012.

Would you want a Museums at Night roadshow, starring Project Manager Nick Stockman and me, to visit your area for a day of learning?

We’d invite representatives from council-run and independent museums, galleries, libraries, archives and heritage sites, along with other campaign partners including representatives from local English Heritage, National Trust and Historic Houses Association properties. We’d welcome Town Centre Managers, council representatives, Visit England Destination Managers to represent the local tourism sector, and anyone else who is keen to learn about participating in the campaign.

By bringing together people who have run Museums at Night events before, and people who haven’t, we hope to build stronger local connections and informal

We’d like to gauge demand for this.

1) Would you attend a one-day workshop like this?

2) Where would you suggest we hold a workshop like this?

3) What would be particularly useful for you to learn? What would you like to leave with in terms of resources and knowledge?

If you’re interested, please email me: – and if you can offer us space to hold an all-day workshop in, that would be even better!

Call for guest posts: write an event planning or marketing case study for cultural or heritage venues

Writing a guest post for the Museums at Night behind-the-scenes sector-facing blog can be a great way to talk about your venue and celebrate the work your team does.

The idea is to showcase lots of different voices from museums, galleries and heritage sites, passing on marketing and event planning ideas to inspire other venues who may be considering taking part for the first time.

Considering writing something for us, but looking for inspiration? Perhaps you could share how you planned and marketed your Museums at Night event, along with any tips about things that went well, and ideas for aspects you might do differently next time around.

Do you have to work at a museum, gallery or heritage site to write for us? Not necessarily – take a look at the guest posts other people have written here: We’re also interested in learning from artists, volunteers, reenactors, musicians, caterers, and in fact anyone with an interesting story to tell or recommendations to share about staging successful after-hours events in cultural and heritage venues.

To find out more, or discuss your ideas, email me at, or call me on 01273 623336.

Guest post requirements:

1) 200-350 words, in a chatty, friendly, style

2) A couple of photos of visitors exploring your venue, ideally at night, with the photographer’s credit. We always like to put up photos of people having fun at cultural / heritage venues!

3) A couple of lines about yourself, I’m happy to link to your website / Twitter account / LinkedIn profile etc.

4) A thumbnail-sized photo of you

I look forward to hearing from you!

We need your Museums at Night photos!

Look at these fascinating pictures from the Museums at Night 2011 Flickr group!

Three dancers silhouetted against a green background

Dancers at the Museum of Bath at Work by Julian Lewis

There are lots to enjoy already, but we’re looking for more. Every year we strongly encourage venues who run Museums at Night events to take lots of photos on the night. These are great not only for capturing the excitement of your event, but are also useful for publicity for your venue (when you send out press releases, print or email newsletters, update your website, and put up display boards – having photographic proof of visitors enjoying themselves while discovering your collections in a different light really comes in handy!)

A series of threads stretching across an industrial warehouse

Installation by Susanne Davies at Halmshore Mills Textile Museum, courtesy of Creativity Works

If you took any photos on the night, please share them in our Flickr group: we’re particularly keen to see high-resolution photos showing people engaging with your collections, trying hands-on activities, and generally smiling and having a good time. We like to use these images to publicise the Museums at Night campaign in future – they’ll pop up in numerous channels:

  • the Culture24 website
  • this blog
  • our Facebook page
  • our regular e-newsletters (which you can sign up for here)
  • the Museums at Night evaluation report
  • presentations given by Culture24 staff at conferences
  • our Museums at Night press image library
  • and even the video we’re currently editing for our campaign sponsorship pitch!
Traditionally painted canal art lit by candles

Cans in Candlelight, courtesy the London Canal Museum

I’d also like to thank everyone who took the time to fill in a Museums at Night venue survey – we never imagined that so many of you would be blocked from accessing SurveyMonkey, but we ended up emailing PDFs of the survey questions to people who couldn’t access them online. All your feedback is incredibly helpful, and we’ll be sharing our findings through the campaign evaluation.

And finally, a reminder about our e-newsletters: if you sign up to Culture24’s free Museums at Night mailing list, you’ll receive an email once a month with news of partnerships, campaigns and promotional opportunities you may like to take advantage of, along with ideas and publicity deadlines for Museums at Night 2012 – keeping you in the loop all year round. Sign up here!

Guest post: Artist Ingrid Plum on creating a Museums at Night performance at Phoenix Gallery, Brighton

Today’s guest post comes from artist Ingrid Plum, who performed as part of a Museums at Night event at Brighton’s Phoenix Gallery, and here shares her tips for ensuring a successful event.


I was asked to perform as part of Museums at Night as part of the Phoenix Gallery’s exhibition “Shifting Boundaries”.

A group of visitors exploring a sculpture gallery after dark

The Shifting Boundaries exhibition at Brighton’s Phoenix Gallery draws a crowd after dark. Image courtesy of Hugh Fox

The durational performance took place at sunset by candlelight, which marked out the performance area, and lasted 30 minutes. It accompanied my installation “The Letting Go” – I moved around the gallery in slow motion singing long notes, spelling out the words tagging the objects at a speed too slow to be understood.

The silhouette of a woman in a gallery walking a candlelit pathway

A scene from Ingrid’s performance in the gallery

It was unusual to perform in a gallery, as I normally make site-specific work. The space highlighted the minimal and calming nature of the performance. During the Q&A afterwards, I found it fascinating how revealing some questions were. It reminded me that as an artist I am balancing the personal nature of work like this whilst allowing space for the audience to bring themselves into it.

It was advertised on the gallery website, through local radio interviews, via e-mail mailouts and via Facebook and Twitter.  The response was very positive and encouraging.  I had been worried that there wouldn’t be enough ‘razmatazz’ with only my performance taking place, but it showed that opening a museum or gallery at night doesn’t have to be an event contrary to the usual environment. It can be an extension of that culturally nurturing and contemplative space we all get to enjoy in a gallery.

A woman surrounded by objects and a framed picture

Ingrid with her installation, The Letting Go. Image courtesy of Hugh Fox

Dos and Don’ts for staging a Museums at Night event:

  • DO make sure you communicate clearly in advance with everyone who will be participating, so no one has any unexpected demands on the night
  • DO take into account what other events are happening locally on that night
  • DON’T expect the same crowd of people you would get in the daytime
  • DO give the audience directions on where they are allowed to go and where they’re not (people generally feel a bit naughty about being in a gallery at night)
  • DO get several types of documentation – photos, video etc:  remember, it’s a one-off performance!
  • DO go on Twitter, Facebook, your own website etc. and publicise the event like mad. Bear in mind you’re asking people to come along to something out of the ordinary – explain what they can expect to see and why they shouldn’t miss it.
  • DON’T serve alcoholic drinks unless you’re prepared to deal with the consequences!
A woman with long hair

Ingrid Plum

Ingrid Plum is a Danish installation and performance artist working with video, sound, sculpture and voice. She is based in Brighton. For more info on Ingrid’s work, please visit

Reflections on museum and gallery marketing and publicity

Quick reminder: we’re closing the Museums at Night venue survey at the end of today so if your museum, gallery, library, archive, or heritage site ran an event, please take 5 minutes to tell us what worked well, and how we could improve next year!

We’re delighted to hear from everyone whose event was a packed-out success, but equally, some of the most interesting responses come from venues that didn’t sell out, or those few unlucky places that had to cancel an event (fewer this year than in previous years – but still an opportunity to learn). If this is relevant to you, then please take a moment to reflect on why you think the event didn’t take off – and what kinds of support Culture24 could offer next year that might make a difference. We need your thoughts too: please fill in as much of the survey as you can!

And now, some interesting promotional ideas from other venues. The Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall have taken to their blog to ask people who visit them to review them on TripAdvisor – a great way of raising a venue’s profile online!

The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney is making good use of their curators’ local knowledge by publishing guided city walking tours as apps. On his blog, Seb Chan explains how the team created the tours, and how they view this new initiative as a way of extending their visitors’ experience of the museum once they leave. If anyone associated with your venue already runs tours, this could be an interesting way of reaching a wider audience.

Finally, Heritage Open Days are sharing all kinds of excellent marketing and publicity tips through their Twitter account – you can follow them here: @heritageopenday

Venues, please fill in the Museums at Night survey now!

Thanks to the 97 people who have filled in the Museums at Night venue survey so far, to tell us how they found the experience, what worked well, what was challenging, and how Culture24 can improve what we offer in future.

However, we really need a minimum of 150 venues to fill in the survey to give us a decent sample size. I’ve sent emails and now I’m making as many phonecalls as I can to remind people about the survey … but please, if you ran an event at your venue, won’t you save me some time and click here to fill in the survey now?

It’ll be open until Monday 20th June – please, whether you feel the campaign was good, bad or indifferent, tell us what you think!

That link again:

Thank you!

Guest post: Charles Potter shares the railway history love from Topsham Museum

Today’s guest post is a case study from a successful Museums at Night event organiser, Charles Potter of Topsham Museum in Devon.


Museums at Night is over for another year – and wasn’t it amazing? It is thought that the final total was 457 events taking place at 352 venues – more than ever before. Here at Topsham Museum everything ran like clockwork on Sunday 15th May too!

Our clockwork train layout was a major attraction for both young and old: 150 visitors joined in this evening event for the third year.

A man dressed as a train conductor demonstrating a model railway

Young and old visitors alike enjoyed discovering the model railway

As the main exhibition in 2011 centres around the 150th anniversary of the Exeter to Exmouth line, it was decided to maintain this theme throughout the evening.

There was a chance to recall the days of steam with Francis Luscombe and Mike Trout who talked of the line from the station to the Quay and the fight to keep the line to Exmouth during the ‘Beeching’ era!

Continuing the railway theme, music played was provided by the Saxation Quartet who are part of the Lympstone Band. Many toes were tapping as a crowd gathered round in the garden.

4 saxophone players under a gazebo

The Saxation Quartet provided a musical accompaniment to the evening

As a finale, an enthusiastic audience gathered in the Tea Room to listen to poems, again with the railway theme, written by Auden, Betjeman and T.S. Eliot.  These were read with great feeling by Eric Hume, Myra Green, and Maggie Butt.

Three people reading aloud from folders

A trio of poetry readers at Topsham Museum

So, where do we go next year? With 2012 being the year of the Olympics, we’re planning the theme of Sport!

Charles Potter is Audience Development Officer for Topsham Museum.