Our latest guest post comes from Cultural Heritage student Signe Troost, who was our Museums at Night campaign intern in 2011 and has since been involved with the equivalent festival in Amsterdam.
Museums at Night Amsterdam (N8) always takes place in November, but the organization is active all year round. It’s a platform for young museumgoers.
My favourite feature of the N8 platform are the N8 Salons. They are held one or two times a year and they are like a mini version of Museums at Night, at just one venue.
Visitors hear from experts in the intimate surroundings of the Museum of Bags after hours (c) Faye Lui
The organization from N8 creates the program for the N8 Salons based on the collection of the hosting museum. It’s a fantastic way for museums to learn how to engage a young audience, and for the visitors to N8 Salons, it’s a great way to learn about the museum in a way that appeals to them.
Last time, the N8 Salon was held in the Museum of Bags and Purses. The program featured workshops and lectures from the museum director and an entrepreneur that started the first goodie bag service in Holland.
Fashionistas admire the collection of 20th century handbags (c) Faye Lui
There was a fashion journalist that interviewed you about your purse and its contents, after which she stole your precious bag and let other people guess what kind of person the owner of this item might be.
From the looks of my purse, a lovely example made from two old records, someone thought I had to be a middle aged transvestite. Ouch!
The most fun part was the bag swapping – the idea was to cast off your old bag and swap it for someone else’s neglected example. Take a look at the visual overview of this N8 Salon: you can see that this night wasn’t just for the ladies!
Signe making and decorating a case for her mobile phone as part of a craft activity (c) Faye Lui
N8 Salons are a great way to do something different with your museum and to attract a new audience. I think they could work very well in the UK, too, especially in cities where a lot of young people flock together.
Wouldn’t it be great to let the students from universities in Oxford create a program for a Salon in the Pitt Rivers Museum? Or have the students from the Museum Studies course in Leeds organize an interesting and fun night at the Leeds Industrial Museum? The working 1920s cinema should trigger some great ideas…
Elaborate headwear at a Salon held at Amsterdam Tropical Museum
Last year, the botanical gardens in Amsterdam had the ambience of a party at tropical resort during N8. I’m sure the Kew botanical gardens would make a great venue for a Salon in the summer.
My top three tips for hosting a Salon
1) Always provide music and drinks, they connect people very easily and creates a relaxed and fun atmosphere.
Drinks on arrival in the Bag Museum cafe (c) Faye Lui
2) Include young people in the planning and organization of your Salon.
3) Use your social media channels. Create a Facebook event for your Salon, ask everybody to share the event on their walls and accounts, have people blogging about your event and make sure everybody makes and shares photos. Check out the Museums at Night PR toolkit for extra tips.
Have an inspiring and exciting Salon!
Signe is a Cultural Heritage student from Amsterdam and is always looking for creative and innovating ways to engage museum audiences. She graduated in June and would like to find a job as an Assistant Curator or Exhibition Officer in the UK. If you have questions or want to share ideas, contact Signe through her LinkedIn profile.