Monthly Archives: February 2012

Connect10: How are London’s Old Operating Theatre Museum and Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum competing for Claire Barclay?

We’re delighted with the success of the Connect10 competition for venues to win  a top artist for a Museums at Night event – two weeks in, over 15,000 votes have already been cast!

In addition to creating some wonderful new Museums at Night events, the goal of this competition was always to develop and engage audiences. So, I’ll be running a series of articles looking at how the competing museums and galleries are reaching out to their audiences to encourage them to vote.

There are some excellent ideas emerging which would also be useful for any venue trying to raise awareness of their events, their fundraising, or even the fact that they exist and are worth visiting!

Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum are currently neck-and-neck with London’s Old Operating Theatre Museum in a hotly contested bid to win Scottish sculptor Claire Barclay.

Where will you send Claire for Museums at Night? Cast your vote here.

Sophie Wilson, Exhibitions & Education Manager at Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum, reports:

We’ve sent details out to our local press, and showcased our Connect10 bid on the homepage of our website. As a council-run venue, we also got the info placed on our local council staff intranet.

We’ve sent a mailout to our contact list, and have also included a slip about the project in a mailing to our Friends of the Art Gallery & Museum last week.

Although we’re currently being refurbished, we’re still using our Twitter account to talk with our followers and ask for votes – we’re really pleased with the number of retweets we’ve had, and that our local Tourist Information Centre is also tweeting about the competition.

Valentina Lari, Press & Marketing Officer at the Old Operating Theatre Museum,  reports:

Our strongest advocates are our supporters, the Friends of the Museum. We’ve contacted all our mailing list, encouraging them to vote for us and to tell their friends about the competition.

We’ll be sending out a press release about Connect10 as well.

We’ve also put a link to the poll on the homepage of our site, and we’re updating our Facebook page to let our fans know where we stand in the poll – it’s very close run!

Vote in Claire Barclay’s Connect10 poll here – where will you send her?

The competition is open until Monday March 5th, and the winning venue will be announced on Tuesday March 6th.

Rosie’s Museums at Night article appears in Historic House Magazine

As you may remember, 5pm yesterday was our publicity deadline for museums and galleries to register their Museums at Night events, for the chance to be featured in BBC History Magazine’s Guide to Museums at Night.

There’s a reason why we issue publicity deadlines throughout the buildup to the campaign. On Wednesday evening there were just over 80 Museums at Night events registered in the database. And by the end of the day yesterday, this number had jumped to 140.

Thank you to everyone who registered their events: it was lovely talking to so many of you and learning about your exciting plans!

If you missed this deadline, fear not – you’re not too late to be part of the festival. You can register your event details right up until Museums at Night weekend itself, but we encourage you to get your listings into our database as soon as possible to achieve the maximum amount of PR coverage possible.

And now for something completely different, but also wonderfully positive!

The Historic Houses Association are Museums at Night campaign partners, and in January they asked me to write an article for their magazine about the benefits of running an after-hours event as part of the festival.

And today, what should arrive at C24 Towers but the spring issue of Historic House Magazine … complete with my article on page 41?

A woman smiling holding a copy of Historic House Magazine

It's a beautiful magazine, made all the more glorious by...

A magazine page with an article about Museums at Night

... My article in the magazine!

Thanks to the HHA for inviting me to write this: Project Manager Nick and I are both very happy to write about, or be interviewed about Museums at Night for any media outlet! If you’re interested, please give me a call on 01273 623336 or email

Have a relaxing weekend, everyone!

One week in to the Connect10 competition – how’s it going?

A maypole shaped like a human surrounded by taxidermy birds

Carnevale (c) Polly Morgan. Polly is just one of the 10 intrepid artists who you can vote to send to venues across the UK for Museums at Night in Culture24's Connect10 competition

After a frantically busy fortnight, with non-stop phone calls and emails flying back and forth, we opened the public vote on the Connect10 competition last week.

We’re blown away by the response: the 28 venues competing to win our 10 artists, which are located as far afield as Guernsey and Thurso, have appealed to their fans so successfully that in only 7 days, well over 10,000 votes have been cast.

I’ll pause to let that sink in.

10,000 votes.

In one week.

This is amazing.

There are some votes with early frontrunners, and others where the competing venues are currently neck and neck – but the voting is open until Monday 5th March, so  there’s still everything to play for…

Cast your Connect10 vote here on Culture24!

One more reminder: if you’re planning a Museums at Night event, register it by 5pm tomorrow (Thursday 16th February) for the chance to be featured in BBC History Magazine’s printed Guide to Museums at Night!

Questions? Problems? Want to discuss your plans? Call me on 01273 623336 or email

Guest Post: Alison Hilton explains how Reading’s Museum of English Rural Life reinvents their Museums at Night events

Today’s guest post about the evolution of  Museums at Night events comes from veteran event organiser Alison Hilton, who is Marketing Officer at MERL (the Museum of English Rural Life).


As the Museum’s Marketing Officer I have been involved in MERL’s ‘Museum at Night’ events since 2007 (when they were part of Museums and Galleries Month).

One of the main reasons for getting involved with this high profile national campaign has been to raise awareness of the Museum and its collections, whilst attracting and developing  audiences. The common thread running through our ‘at Night’ events has been – perhaps not terribly scientifically – ‘Give it a go!’

Film screening

In 2007, we couldn’t resist signing up to show the film Night at the Museum.  It was the first time we’d run a family event in the evening, and we were delighted that it was greeted with enthusiasm by local families.


A group of children sitting in a museum rotunda with bedding

Young visitors to a Museum of English Rural Life sleepover

Emboldened, our Learning Manager drew on her experience at the British Museum and ran Family Sleepovers for the following two years. These were hugely popular and with very little marketing effort or spend, we could have sold out twice over.

The families involved all had a fantastic time. However, sleepovers are great fun but resource-heavy, and benefited a relatively small number of families.

Live music for adults

In 2010, we decided to try out something completely different. Being a University Museum, our adult events tend to be more academic – seminars and lectures.

For Museums at Night, we opted for our first late opening aimed at adults. It was low key but with the addition of live music, the atmosphere was relaxing and sociable.

We regretted our decision to finish at 9pm and promised ourselves a proper ‘late’ in 2011!

A group of well-dressed people waiting for excitement to begin

Staff and volunteers were ready to party later into the evening

1950s party

As part of our 60th anniversary events programme, we put on a themed 50s Night with the help of a large team of volunteers and funding from the University Arts Committee to pay for an excellent band. In all its 60 years the Museum had certainly never seen anything quite like the party that ensued!

A colourfully dressed couple swing dancing in a museum

1950s swing dancing in the Museum

Poetry Night

This year’s event will be different again – a Poetry Night in association with Two Rivers Press, a local publisher whose archive we host.

We’ve hosted readings with them in the past but in moving the poetry night to the high profile ‘Museums at Night’ slot, we hope to open up what have been fairly niche events, to a much wider audience.

Looking back on experimental events

Our Museums at Night events have allowed us to experiment with formats and try out ideas we wouldn’t otherwise have risked.

Being part of a national campaign has given each event a platform and a head start in terms of marketing which means that on a very limited budget, for the events themselves and for the marketing, we have tried out new things, attracted new visitors, got ourselves mentioned in national media, and had a lot of fun in the process. So why not give it a go?

Find our more about MERL via their website, Facebook page and by following @MERLReading on Twitter.

A woman standing in front of wooden cartwheelsAlison Hilton is the Marketing Officer for the University of Reading’s Museums and Special Collections, based at the Museum of English Rural Life. After a brief stint as a secondary school teacher, she began her marketing career at ‘The Mathworks,’  then worked on the launch of the OED Online at Oxford University Press. She has worked at MERL since 2006.


Thanks, Alison! If you’d like to write a guest post or case study for this blog about any aspect of event planning or marketing in arts or heritage venues, please drop me a line at or call me on 01273 623336.

Guest Post: Clare Goddard on twilight tours at Norwich’s Cathedral of St John the Baptist

Today’s guest post comes from Clare Goddard from the Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Norwich.


I often think that my job must be one of the most interesting in Norwich. No two days are ever alike and working in an historical building brings both challenges and joys!

One of the joys is participating in events such as the Museums at Night initiative where we open our tower to the public.

Standing at the door to a dark and draughty stair well, with 227 steep stone steps winding upwards in front of you, you could be forgiven for wondering if it was really going to be worth the effort and stress, but the stunning views afforded at the end of your climb makes the twilight tower tour one of the highlights in our events calendar!

View from the tower at twilight

View from the Tower at Twilight (c) Philip Rochford

Sited in the heart of Norwich, the Cathedral of St John the Baptist boasts a 360 degree view of the city, its medieval and Victorian street pattern clearly seen from above.  The Museums at Night Twilight Tower Tour in May allows people the chance to see Norwich from a new perspective, with the sun setting over this historic city.

It also serves as an introduction to the Cathedral for people who might not normally visit us. The evening also usually ends with a beer or a hot chocolate in our refectory which stays open for the event.

A photograph of a cathedral

St John the Baptist Cathedral (c) Richard Wells

The Museums at Night event at the Narthex (our visitor centre at the cathedral) is organised in conjunction with HEART ( Norwich’s Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust) and with the staff and clergy and the many dedicated volunteers working at St John’s – especially our Tower Tour Guides.

Organising an event in a busy cathedral raises particular challenges, not least balancing its essential remit as a sacred religious building with the architectural, heritage and cultural interests of the site. However, the secular and spiritual do go hand in hand – or in this case – step by step!

Despite the extra work that it entails, it is always worth participating as positive visitor feedback makes it all worthwhile and helps to put us more firmly on the map.

A picture of a lady with a book

Clare Goddard is the Manager of The Narthex at The Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Norwich.


Thank you very much Clare! If you’d like to write a guest post or case study for this blog about any aspect of event planning or marketing in arts or heritage venues, please drop me a line at or call me on 01273 623336.

Get your events into BBC History Magazine publicity: register them by Thursday 16th February

Major publicity opportunity!

For the third year running, Culture24 is working with BBC History Magazine to create a glossy colourful printed Guide to Museums at Night.

This A5-sized brochure will give participating arts and heritage venues a unique chance to have their event mentioned in print in a publication distributed widely across the UK.

The Guide is not a hard-to-read attempt at providing complete event listings, which would immediately become out of date. Instead, it’s written in engaging advertorial style, and rounds up events by theme to give a flavour of the diversity of experiences on offer during Museums at Night weekend (May 18 – 20).

As space is limited, we can’t guarantee that all events will be mentioned, but for your venue and event to be considered for inclusion you must register your event in the Culture24 database by 5pm on Thursday 16th February.

The front cover of a brochure about Museums at Night 2011

The front cover of the BBC History Magazine Guide to Museums at Night from 2011

The purpose of the Guide is to encourage everyone who picks it up to learn what the festival is about, and to look up the complete Museums at Night event listings through the Culture24 website to find out what’s on near them.

Don’t miss out!

Museums at Night Project Manager Nick Stockman says: “This is your venue’s chance to be in the one official Museums at Night festival brochure. It’s produced in collaboration with BBC History Magazine and gets wrapped in their May issue hitting the streets in April. What’s more, all venues participating in the festival receive copies so it’s really worth being part of. Look out for the brochure in mid-April – I promise you the front cover will be stunning this year!”

Still curious? Read the full BBC History Magazine Guide to Museums at Night 2011 to get more of an idea about how we write the text and use the photos you send us to convey the excitement of the weekend.


The Guide will be distributed to the 70,000 readers of BBC History Magazine, Tourist Information Centres around the country and also to participating venues.

Last year, many museums and galleries used the Guides to raise awareness of the campaign in their local communities by placing them in local libraries and shopping centres. We were also delighted when several venues that couldn’t stage a Museums at Night event still offered to put out Guides to raise awareness of the festival weekend among their own visitors.

Deadline: Register your Museums at Night events in the Culture24 database by 5pm on Thursday 16th February for the chance to be included in the Guide.

The link to log in and add your event listing to the DDE database is here: 

If you don’t have a username, fill in this simple form:

And if your venue’s not listed on Culture24, ask us to add you here:

If you have any questions, please contact me on 01273 623336 or email

Guest Post: Michelle Worthington presents Open Cockpits Night at RAF Museum Cosford

Today’s guest post comes from Michelle Worthington, Public Relations Executive at the Royal Air Force Museum in Cosford, Shropshire.


The Royal Air Force Museum Cosford will be opening up its doors to visitors for a special evening event taking place on Saturday 19th May 2012. During ‘Open Cockpits Evening’, a selection of historic aircraft and cockpits will be available for close viewing for a limited number of visitors, allowing rare inside access to some of the World’s most historic aircraft.

Family pointing at planes in a museum

Missile display in the National Cold War Exhibition (c) RAF Museum

This will be the third time the event has been held at the Museum and it’s gathering momentum every time. In 2011 we decided to tie in with Museums at Night and after some consideration about what we could offer our visitors on an evening, it was decided that opening up our cockpits would be the perfect event.

A man sitting in an aeroplane cockpit

A visitor at the May Open Cockpits Evening (c) RAF Museum

We knew there was a demand for aircraft access amongst the aviation enthusiasts, as we often get asked the question, so we played to our strengths. To ensure the event was manageable we limited the numbers and set an admission charge which also helps cover the costs of running the event.

A father and son in an aeroplane cockpit

A father and son discover one of the historic aircraft (c) RAF Museum

Access inside the aircraft is something we are not able to do all the time. Many of the aircraft at the Museum are unique and you will not get the chance to get onto the flight deck or sit in the pilot’s seat of such types anywhere else in the world. Once inside the aircraft you’ll be able to appreciate how the pilots of such types felt before a flight with the mass of instruments in front of them.

Two men in the cockpit of a plane

Looking at the controls in an aeroplane cockpit (c) RAF Museum

The Open Cockpits Evening will allow for visitors to experience not just the exterior of the aircraft, but also the interior of. By opening them up to a limited number of visitors for this event, we are able to offer them quality time inside the aircraft, with our team of volunteers available to answer any questions.

A young man sitting in an aeroplane cockpit

The excitement of sitting in an aeroplane cockpit (c) RAF Museum

After the success of the first Open Cockpits Evening we held the event later in the year and we found lots of repeat visitors attended, plus over 100 additional visitors. This proved to us that there is a demand for the event, and that we had done a good job first time round as people were coming back!

Open Cockpits Evening is promoted mainly through press releases distributed to the local media and aviation press. Information and photos are also posted on the Museum’s website and Facebook page and Tweets are regularly posted keeping followers updated about what aircraft will be available on the evening. The event is listed in the Museum’s leaflet and events flyer and information is distributed to our e-newsletter followers.

A blue ticket for Open Cockpits Evening

A blue ticket for Open Cockpits Evening in May 2011 (c) RAF Museum

We also found a really effective way to advertise the event was through radio promotions. By providing local stations with tickets to the event, the presenters hyped up the event and ran competitions for their listeners to win the tickets. Some of the stations even asked their listeners to review the event. Linking in with Museums at Night we were also able to gain additional coverage as part of the national campaign.

A red ticket for Open Cockpits Evening in September 2011

Reusing the ticket design in a different colour - scarlet - for Open Cockpits Evening in September 2011 (c) RAF Museum

This year’s event will run in the same format but we are allowing access to some new aircraft, giving the repeat visitors something new to see and a new plug for the media. Promotion for the event will start soon but tickets have already started to sell, with the first sold in December, six months before the event. We are hopeful this year’s event will be as successful as the last, and would encourage other museums to offer an event to their visitors during Museums at Night!

Our Museums at Night Open Cockpits event will run from 6.00pm to 8.30pm on Saturday May 19th.  Numbers will be limited to 300 people, to allow enthusiasts to spend as much time as possible examining these wondrous aircraft close up. Admission is by advance ticket only.  Tickets costs £10.00 per person and are on sale now.  Minimum height restrictions of 1.07 metres will apply.  For further information call 01902 376200 or visit

A smiling woman with a fringeMichelle Worthington is the Public Relations Executive for the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford. You can keep up to date with news and events at the Museum through Facebook and Twitter.



Thank you Michelle! If you’d like to write a guest post or case study for this blog about any aspect of event planning or marketing in arts or heritage venues, please drop me a line at or call me on 01273 623336.