Monthly Archives: March 2012

Guest Post: Trudie Cole from Poole Museums on their secret garden

Our first foray into hosting a Museums at Night event was in 2008 when producers of the Wallace and Gromit series, Aardman had kindly consented for museums to screen The Wrong Trousers.

We advertised the event and were ready to go when at the eleventh hour disaster struck. We had overlooked the need for an events licence … and were warned that proceeding without one may result in a prison term!

I briefly considered the possibility of continuing my duties at Her Majesty’s pleasure, but concluded that it would probably adversely affect my CRB clearance.

This experience dampened my bold enthusiasm, but having obtained a full licence we have run other evening events since then – and felt it was time to try again and host a Museums at Night event in 2012.

A historic building with a carefully manicured garden on a sunny day

Scaplens Court will be inviting visitors to discover their secret garden after hours for Museums at Night. Image (c) Poole Museums

So on 19th May we will open the doors of Scaplen’s Court, one of Poole’s finest medieval buildings, and invite visitors to explore the building and its secret walled herb garden.

We will dress the garden with fairy lights and a musician will serenade visitors, who will also be able to relax with a glass of wine.

A pink glow-worm installation climbing up stone steps in a garden

The garden of Scaplen's Court has previously been lit up by a glow-worm installation (c) Poole Museums

We don’t have a dedicated events team, so it will be all hands on deck and we’ll make use of our army of volunteers to help steward the event.

We tend to rely on free advertising, so we’ll put details of the event on our website, use our mailing list and tweet about it too.

We decided to run the event on Saturday night rather than Friday night to make the most of the passing trade of tourists who are about on a Saturday.

We’re all really looking forward to being part of Museums at Night this year and hope the event will pave the way for even more evening events. Maybe one day we’ll even screen The Wrong Trousers!

A woman sitting at a deskTrudie Cole is the Learning and Access Manager for Poole Museum Service and a PhD Student looking into archaeological education at UCL. You can follow Poole Museum Service on Twitter @PooleMuseum


———————————————————————————————–———————— Thanks, Trudie! 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.

Number 11 Downing Street celebrates Museums at Night

Every year we celebrate the Museums at Night festival at a different arts or heritage venue (HMS Belfast, the Florence Nightingale Museum, Kensington Palace).

This year, author Frances Osborne has invited the Culture24 team to celebrate Museums at Night at Number 11 Downing Street, the Chancellor’s official residence. As a historical researcher and biographer, she is interested in bringing arts and heritage to life for new audiences.

This is a great advocacy opportunity, and we’ve invited a representative sample of people from small and medium sized venues to come along, together with campaign supporters including some of the Connect10 artists.

However, it was important to us that this shouldn’t simply be a gathering of people talking in a room. We want to give our attendees the experience of a Museums at Night event – so we’ll be calling the evening Number 11 At Night.

A street of buildings with a glowing slash outside

Number 11 at Night invitation

We were interested to learn that Downing Street was built in the late 17th century, so we’ll be offering our guests the chance to try food and drink from that time period.

When each Chancellor of the Exchequer takes up residence in 11 Downing Street, they display examples of political cartoons about other Chancellors – so we’re inviting representatives from the Cartoon Museum to talk about them.

The walls of Number 11 are decorated with artworks from the Government Art Collection, who have run Museums at Night events for several years – so we’re inviting curators from the Government Art Collection to discuss them.

Finally, we’re inviting experts from the History of Parliament Trust and The Parliamentary Archives to tell stories about the history of the building and its former occupants.

We hope that with this event, we’ll be able to throw a positive spotlight on the work of the arts and heritage sector, and bring the Museums at Night festival to life in a new way – watch this space to hear how it goes!

Guest Post: Jacqui Fortnum introduces a Doctor Who themed sleepover at Manchester’s John Rylands Library

Today’s guest post comes from Jacqui Fortnum, Public Programmes Manager for the John Rylands Library in Manchester, who describes the exciting Doctor Who-themed sleepover they’ll be running for Museums at Night this year.


First, a confession: I am a lifelong Dr Who fan!

And so, when watching a re-run of series 4 (from David Tennant’s incarnation) I was struck by the potential joy of showing Silence in the Library in our wonderfully gothic and weirdly spooky Library – and thus our Museums at Night event for 2011 began to take shape in my fevered brain…

Imagine my glee when I shared this idea with my colleagues, and they responded with overwhelming enthusiasm and a stream of fabulous ideas for activities!

A darkened staircase at dusk

At atmospheric staircase in the Gothic Revival style of John Rylands Library © Mark Stuttard

With rights to show both Silence of the Library and Forest of the Dead sorted out with the lovely BBC, we became so over-excited that we decided that a single event was not enough and went on to run a Friday evening event for grown-ups, followed by a Saturday afternoon event for families.

And so, with the making of impossible journals and sonic screwdrivers, and scary torch-lit tours of the Library – complete with increasingly hysterical messages delivered over walkie-talkies and spooky sounds issuing from hidden corners – both we and our audiences had a thoroughly marvellous time!

And so to 2012 – Allons-y!

Reading through the visitor feedback from last year’s events, I was struck by the number of times the idea of staying in the Library overnight came up as a suggestion … and so the brain fever began again – a sleepover! Could we? Should we? YES!

Once posted online and promoted through our What’s On guide, places booked out faster than you can say ‘Who turned out the lights?’

A group of children looking at a computer

Children discovering one of the interactives at the Library © CHICC, The John Rylands Library

So, as we approach the date itself, we’re excited and just a little bit nervous – but thanks to the support of Rosie at Culture 24 and the helpful suggestions from teams at other venues who have run sleepovers, we are confident that an excellent time will be had by all!

I’ll leave the last word to the fourth Doctor, my Doctor… Tom Baker:

‘There’s no point being grown-up if you can’t be childish sometimes.’


A smiling woman in glasses

Jacqui Fortnum is Public Programmes Manager for The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester.

She says: I’m responsible for the development, marketing and delivery of exhibitions and events at the Library – working with audiences and colleagues to create a (hopefully!) imaginative, engaging and inspirational programme.

I really enjoy the creative process and having the opportunity to explore the possibilities offered by our fantastic building and collections, but my real job satisfaction comes from meeting our audiences and visitors – it’s a rare privilege to turn your ideas for new activities into the reality of exciting and enjoyable events, or engaging and inspiring exhibitions.


Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm, Jacqui!

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.

Find Museums at Night events – and order printed Guides!

Museums at Night events are being registered in our database more quickly than ever – last week we passed the 200 event mark and today there are 270!

More are being added all the time, and if you know what your venue is planning to do, please log in to your record and add the listing now. Questions? Problems? Call me on 01273 623336 or email

We’ve also listened to feedback from people who found it difficult to search for Museums at Night events. Now, when you go to the main Museums at Night public-facing landing page, you can either search on a map, or use our special event search widget – simply select your UK region, and whether you’re looking for events on Friday 18, Saturday 19 or Sunday 20 May.

A screenshot of the Museums at Night website showing an event search widget and a Google map

The Museums at Night homepage at, now complete with an event search widget (top right) and a Google map of events

Finally, don’t forget that this is your one chance to order copies of BBC History Magazine’s printed Guide to Museums at Night. This brochure is our only UK-wide printed publicity, promoting the festival weekend through exciting advertorial writing and attractive images.

All venues who register a Museums at Night event will automatically receive a box of 100 brochures – but last year, several museums and galleries quickly distributed their 100 brochures and were disappointed to learn that they’d missed their chance to order more. Don’t miss out!

Think about what you might do with the Guides, which are A5 sized – as well as putting them out for visitors to your venue, to encourage them to return during Museums at Night weekend, could you place them in other local attractions, cafes, supermarkets or heritage sites?

To order more copies, simply fill in this form by 11am on Wednesday 4th April:

Guest Post: Sophie Serraris introduces Museum Night Fever in Brussels

Today’s post comes from Sophie Serraris, one of the panel of judges for  Museum Night Fever in Brussels. This is similar to Museums at Night’s city-wide events such as Liverpool’s Light Night and Newcastle’s Late Shows, but in Brussels the whole city comes alive with excitement and new visitors have the chance to discover 24 museums in one night!


Some say visiting an art museum is just an excuse to look at pictures of naked women. But when can you actually see women in a state of undress dancing around a museum in real life?

Three women dance with feather fans in a museum

Burlesque dancing at the Museum of Elsene © Dieter Telemans

The annual Museum Night in Brussels was the reason this teasing burlesque dance act appeared in the Museum of Elsene.

Like all the activities that took place in the 24 museums and galleries participating in Brussels’ Museum Night Fever, this performance was programmed by young people, for other young people to enjoy. Over 14,000 visitors came to see music, dance and theatre performances, and joined guided tours and workshops in museums all over the city.

a girl on a rope swing with a dinosaur skeleton in the forefront

Performer at the Natural Science Museum © Dieter Telemans

Every museum took the opportunity to shine a new light on their collections, with activities and performances inspired by their objects. In the Museum of Elsene,  the dance performance and silk-screen printing workshops really illuminated their collection of frivolous posters from the 1930s!

a queue of people entering a gateway at night with a glowing pink sculpture

Visitors queueing outside La Fonderie, Brussels © Patrick Van Vlerken

Engaging (with) young people

Museum Night Fever started in 2008 with 7 participating museums, and has grown to include 24 museums and galleries in this year’s programme. The Brussels Museums Council organises the event, and supports the participating museums by putting them in touch with schools, artists and youth organisations.

Museums and young people work together on a regular basis in the months before the event to develop programmes for the night. This level of engagement also pays off in terms of promotion: when the programmers feel motivated, they are very likely to invite their friends to Museum Night Fever.

A room of people dancing in pairs surrounded by dinosaurs

Tango between the dinosaurs at the Natural Science Museum © Dieter Telemans

The museums offer a range of activities, most of them interactive, to make these young friends and all other visitors from the target age range of 18 – 35 feel involved. For example, a graffiti workshop was part of the programme in the Old Library, and the Comic Strip Museum provided a photo studio with writeable balloons.

Four adults dancing with snorkels in an art gallery

Snorkelling through the Museum of Ancient Art © Dieter Telemans

Visitors who buy a pass for the night to enter all 24 museums can make use of special buses that circulate during Museum Night Fever. They can also use their pass once more to get free entrance to one of the museums within the next 3 weeks (during daytime, of course).

Lots of people queuing on a dark street

Visitors queue on Koningsplein to get into Museum Night Fever venues © Dieter Telemans

Over 400 young people volunteer in venues during Museum Night Fever. It’s very challenging to recruit, support and coordinate this high amount of volunteers for the Brussels Museums Council – a lot of work, if not too much.

In the future, participating museums might have to find their own young volunteers if they want to save on costs for paid staff members who work during the night. However, the investment of time and energy in coordinating this is certainly repaid with more positive associations with each venue, a great atmosphere on the night, and lots of new visitors having a good time and discovering the museums and collections in a new light.


close up profile picture of a ladySophie Serraris is on the judging panel of the Museum Night Fever in Brussels. Dutch-born, she runs an international museum consultancy specialised in visitor engagement. Sophie is also actively involved with Kids in Museums in the UK.

Follow Sophie on Twitter, where she tweets in English, as @Sophie_iMuseum.

See more pictures from Museum Night Fever on Brussels Museums’ Facebook page.

Follow the Brussels Museums Council on Twitter (Tweets in English, French and Flemish):


Thank you, Sophie, for sharing the highlights of a Museums at Night experience abroad! If you’re reading this and 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: Brian Pedley presents Drama in the Night Garden with the Tamar Protection Society

Today’s guest post comes from Brian Pedley, journalist and Press Officer for the  Tamar Protection Society, Saltash, Cornwall, who explains how collaborating with a theatre company brings an ancient house and garden to life.


Plays and musicals in London’s West End win awards for sets and scenery created on telephone-number budgets. But when the Derby-based 1623 Theatre Company brings Shakespeare to our town of Saltash, the big settings come ready-made.

The actors play against a backdrop of the River Tamar, Brunel’s Royal Albert Bridge, the courtyard of our 15th century property Mary Newman’s Cottage and its recreated Elizabethan garden, which we opened on March 19, 2008.

A man and a woman perform in a garden

Actors Kat Glenn and Matthew Barker play Romeo and Juliet in the Mary Newman`s Cottage Garden 2009 © Brian Pedley

Macbeth’s dagger scene was enacted in front of the potting shed, while Bottom, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, loomed out from behind our Grade II Listed outdoor privy.

A ancient white cottage at dusk

Mary Newman's Cottage at dusk © Brian Pedley

For our summer visitors, the cottage garden tells how an Elizabethan family fed and medicated itself. But we needed to raise its profile.

A couple struggle in a garden

Kat Glenn and Matthew Barker in Course of True Love 2009 © Brian Pedley

A board member told us about the 1623 Theatre Company. Formed in 2005, the group has played in ‘non-traditional theatre spaces’ all over the United Kingdom in venues ranging from shopping malls to a courtroom and a quarry.

A man and a woman in a red feather boa performing in a garden

Elizabeth Rose and Adam Buss in Sinful Shakespeare 2010 © Brian Pedley

Marketing the first show was easy.

“Bring your own picnic,” we proclaimed, “and wash it down with wine at £6 a bottle – or our own apple juice.”

In a town previously starved of professional theatre, 1623’s performance of Shakespearean love scenes – The Course of True Love – on July 18, 2009, was a sell-out.

A view of the backs of the audience sitting on chairs in a garden courtyard

The audience in the garden courtyard © Brian Pedley

Birds sang and trains rumbled over Brunel’s bridge, while Juliet met her Romeo.

The courtyard audience, limited by law to a maximum of 60 people, loved every moment.

Night-time drama in the garden is now an established part of what we do.

A woman in a red jacket with blood on her hands

Elizabeth Rose has blood on her hands as Lady Macbeth in Sinful © Brian Pedley

For Christmas 2010, a company from Leicestershire performed a Victorian farce amid flickering braziers, lashed by freezing rain and revived by our hot mince pies and mulled wine.

A man leaning against a pillar, watched by an audience

Actor Matthew Barker of 1623 Theatre Company immerses himself in his role, watched by a courtyard audience in 2009 © Brian Pedley

The 1623 Theatre Company returns to Mary Newman’s Cottage garden on June 23 to perform Shakespeare’s funniest bits. Bring your own picnic. We provide the wine, as always.


The face of a man wearing glassesA working journalist since 1969, Brian Pedley delivers features and research to national newspapers, TV and the web from his base on the Cornish bank of the River Tamar. He tweets as @BrianPedley.

Brian is also Press Officer of the Tamar Protection Society, which runs two historic properties in Saltash, Cornwall, Elliott’s Store Museum and Mary Newman’s Cottage and Garden, which will both be opening later than usual for Museums at Night weekend.


Thanks, Brian! 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.

Order your free BBC History Magazine Guides to Museums at Night by Wednesday 4 April!

The wonderful BBC History Magazine Guide to Museums at Night will be on its way to the printers very soon! It’s a thing of beauty: an A5 size, full-colour glossy brochure with 16 pages of photos and writing.

You can order your Guides here up until 11am on Wednesday 4th April.

Children explore a castle with lanterns

Picking up the BBC History Magazine Guide gives readers a taste of the exciting places they could discover over Museums at Night weekend... Photo from Pendennis Castle (c) English Heritage

The Guide picks out event highlights by theme, giving a flavour of the diversity of events that will be on offer across the UK over Museums at Night weekend. The idea of this persuasive text is that members of the public who pick it up will be compelled to head to the Museums at Night website to find out what’s on near them.

Every reader of BBC History Magazine will receive the Guide, but we’re having 50,000 extras printed to send out to you all. For the last couple of years, this has been a key part of the Museums at Night festival marketing at a local level.

The venues who took boxes of brochures to distribute reported great success from putting them out in their own foyers and cafes, local libraries, bookshops, theatres, cafes, bars and supermarkets.

You know better than we do where people in your town are likely to pick up flyers, leaflets and brochures – and here’s ready-made high-quality printed publicity, at no cost to you, for you to make the most of in your community!

Order your free brochures here now!

If your venue is running a Museums at Night event and you don’t fill in the form, we’ll automatically send you a box of 100 brochures. However, if you can take more than this please use the form to let us know by Wednesday 4th April, as you won’t be able to ask for more later.

Alternatively, if for some reason you can’t put any brochures out, please fill in the form to let us know so we don’t send you unnecessary copies.

Last year it was really heartening to see many venues who weren’t able to run events asking for brochures to put out so that they could support other local venues by promoting the campaign.

Could you do this? Please click here to request your Guides!

Event package offer: want a Future Shorts screening for your Museums at Night event?

We are delighted to announce that, for the second year running, we can make a Future Shorts DVD package available to any museum, gallery or heritage site wishing to run an evening film screening for their Museums at Night event, over the weekend of 18 – 20 May 2012.

Plasticine characters in swimsuits

What’s on offer?

This year’s DVD features six films, runs for 80 minutes and includes work from world-famous directors Sam Taylor-Wood and Spike Jonze.

The programme:

1. Bear, dir. Nash Edgerton (Australia, 2011)
2. Quadrangle, dir. Amy Grappell (USA, 2010)
3. Venus, dir. Tor Fruergaard (Denmark, 2012)
4. The Arm, dir. Brie Larson, Sarah Ramos, Jessie Ennis (USA, 2012)
5. Mourir Auprès de Toi (To Die By Your Side), dir. Spike Jonze and Simon Cahn (France, 2011)
6. Love You More, dir. Sam Taylor Wood (UK, 2007)
7. L’Homme Sans Tete (The Man Without a Head), dir. Juan
Solanas (France, 2003)

Future Cinema will provide all participating venues with a huge range of assets and resources including: brochure, media pack, film stills, posters, programme synopsis and film transcripts – they really have left no stone unturned!

The practicalities:

We can offer this package free to the first seven venues to fill out the form (UPDATE 14/3/2012 – the free packages have been snapped up, so from now on, the discounted charges below will apply.)

We have negotiated a discount on the licence fee for smaller capacity venues. The capacity relates to the size of the room you’ll be screening the films in, not the size of your venue overall.

Small (up to 80 capacity): £60 plus VAT (£72)
Medium (80 – 150 capacity): £150 plus VAT (£180)
Large (150 – 250 capacity): £250 plus VAT (£300)
Extra large (over 250 capacity): negotiable

You will need to provide your own projection equipment, a screen or white wall to project the DVD onto, and seating for your visitors.

Remember, you can charge admission to your Museums at Night event! Read our guidance on ticket pricing here.

You can screen the Future Shorts DVD as many times as you like during your Museums at Night weekend evening events for the one licence fee.

What to do next:

Please fill out this form if you would like a Future Shorts DVD to screen – the deadline to place your order is 5pm on Friday 16th March 2012.

Free downloadable poster and flyer templates and logos to promote your Museums at Night 2012 event

It’s been good speaking to so many of you over the last week – don’t forget, if you’d like an author or a sleepover subsidy for your Museums at Night event, you have till 5pm this Friday to register your interest!

Several of you have also asked me for Museums at Night logos and publicity templates: it’s reassuring to know that you’re thinking of advertising your events in good time!

You’ll find these on the Resources for Venues page of this blog, but I’m reproducing them here as well, so please share this post with anyone in your marketing or communications team who might find the following resources useful:

Press release text

If you need a line of text introducing the festival as a whole for your press release boilerplate, feel free to use this:

Museums at Night is the annual after-hours celebration of arts, culture and heritage when hundreds of museums, galleries, libraries, archives and heritage sites open their doors for special evening events. It is coordinated by Culture24, and takes place over the weekend of Friday 18th – Sunday 20th May 2012.

Logo guidelines

You’re very welcome to download the campaign logos to use on your websites, print and e-newsletters to raise awareness of your participation in the festival.

The Museums at Night logo

It’s not compulsory, but if you’re using the logo we’d appreciate a link back to the public-facing home of the campaign,

JPEG logos

Museums at Night standard logo JPG
Museums at Night white on black logo JPG

EPS logos

Museums at Night standard logo EPS
Museums at Night white on black logo EPS

PNG logos

Museums at Night standard logo PNG
Museums at Night white on black logo PNG

Poster and flyer template guidelines

It’s completely free to download and customise these poster and flyer templates. My advice for designing print publicity is to keep it simple – a punchy event title, a compelling image and a line or two making your event sound exciting will usually do the trick.

Make sure to include the date, time and place of your event, the price, and contact details for further information / booking if necessary.

Finally, every year I showcase your posters on this blog to inspire other venues in creating their own publicity – so please email me ( images of your completed posters!

Microsoft Word, Open Office (doc)
A3 poster
A4 poster
A5 flyer front

Image files (jpg)
A3 poster
A4 poster
A5 flyer back
A5 flyer front

Adobe Photoshop (psd)
A3 poster
A4 poster
A5 flyer back
A5 flyer front