Monthly Archives: December 2012

Guest post: Gilly Clarkson explains how the Towner transforms through night-time events

Our last guest post before the Christmas break comes from Gilly Clarkson, who explains how the Towner’s programme of after-hours events brings their exhibitions to life and attracts new audiences.


The ‘Plague Doctor’ with his long rat-like snout, the Black Swan, a robed figure with the head of a pig who could have stepped straight out of The Wicker Man – these are some of the ‘night folk’ who populated Towner’s latest nightclub, as revellers celebrated the weird and wonderful of British folklore!

2 people, one wearing a beaked plague doctor mask, one with leaves covering his face

The Plague Doctor and Green Man at the Towner’s Night Folk event (c) Kipperklock Photography

Through our late-night events we aim to broaden engagement with our major exhibitions (in this instance, a show about photography and folklore) and transform the gallery to create a completely different, interactive experience.

We hope to break down the barriers that some feel in engaging with contemporary art and attract a new audience, perhaps those who might be put off by the “typical” gallery-going experience.

Planning began three months earlier with our partner, Brighton music promoter Melting Vinyl. We thought about how we could integrate all elements of Towner for maximum effect – e.g. our young people’s crew were tasked with creating vinyl signs on mirrors, while public workshops produced carved turnips and corn dollies for decoration.

Two women with painted faces and elaborate hairstyles

Face painting and headdresses (c) Kipperklock Photography

The resulting event included sea shanties, live folk music and DJ sets, performance art, local ciders and ales, portrait photography, headdress making, face-painting, Morris men and the best dressing up we’ve ever seen.

One visitor summed it up: “We felt like the exhibition had come alive, as if the characters had stepped out of the photographs on the walls!”

A figure standing in an art gallery wearing a spiky headdress and trailing ribbons

One of the Gay Bogeys who attend the Hastings Jack-in-the-Green procession (c) Kipperklock Photography

Key to our approach is working with quality, locally connected bands to reach a local music-loving audience. The headline act were South Coast band Early Ghost, who have supported Beirut.

For the first time we conducted a post-event e-survey. While the results showed that we have more work to do on attracting a truly new audience to the gallery, we did see a number of successes.

  • Two-thirds of responders felt the event helped them understand the themes and concepts of the exhibition.
  • 80% said it made Towner feel more welcoming.
  • Over 40% agreed that it had changed their perception generally of museums and galleries.
  • All agreed that it’s important for galleries to programme events like this, especially outside London!
People with elaborate hats watching a performance

Visitors watching performers at the Towner’s Night Folk event (c) Kipperklock Photography

As the themes and activities change dramatically with each of our events, we are on a constant learning curve. We’ve been continuously honing aspects of operational delivery, and in future we’ll be focussing more on attracting a youth audience through young up-and-coming bands and student links.

Next time we’re going full-on electronica, returning to a nightclub that’s all about the beats!

A woman with blonde hairGilly Clarkson is Communications and Marketing Manager at Towner, the contemporary art museum for the South East. She is passionate about developing audiences and trying to make Towner’s world-class exhibitions as widely accessible as possible. She was delighted to put forward one of the winning Connect10 competition ideas in 2012, which saw Bob and Roberta Smith come to Eastbourne for a special Museums at Nightclub!


Thanks, Gilly!

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to everyone reading this blog.

And if your New Year’s Resolution is to promote your work and the interesting events or marketing strategies your museum or gallery is using … why not write a guest post here too? Drop me an email at

Social media in museums

I was recently invited to talk about social media platforms to Sussex museum staff and volunteers at the Arts Council England / Museum Development Service training day “Doing Digital: Using Social Media in Museums“.

I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare an image-heavy presentation with lots of screenshots, so livened up these rather text-heavy slides and made the presentation more social (and Christmassy) by cracking open a Chocolate Orange and sharing segments with every audience member who called out a question, idea or case study.

An open chocolate orange

Chocolate orange segments are a great inducement to sharing and interaction! Image shared under a Creative Commons licence by Flickr user VerseVend

As always, the most interesting challenges were raised in the Q & A session afterwards!

Take a look at my slides for a whistle-stop tour through different social media channels and a few examples of how museums and galleries are using them:

This event also brought home to me the importance of local networks and learning from each others’ experiences: it’s immensely valuable to be able to compare notes about what’s working well and what you’re finding challenging with similar organisations in the same position.

My top recommendations for getting started with social media

If you’re not sure what terms like Twitter or RSS mean, I highly recommend watching the super-simple CommonCraft videos for step by step introductions to all kind of online services like Twitter and blogging:

Set up free Google Alerts, and you’ll get a weekly email linking to any mentions of your museum that have been published online: this won’t send you all the press coverage you receive, but it can help track what bloggers and people using social media are saying about your organisation.

You’re not alone!

If you have any questions about how other arts and heritage venues are tackling projects, and would like the support of a great community of professionals, I recommend joining two mailing lists that both send out a daily digest of questions and answers:

1) GEM, the Group for Education in Museums
2) The MCG, the Museums Computer Group

Are there any essential social media resources or sources of support that are useful to you? Please let me know in the comments or via Twitter!

Connect10 competition: what could the ten artists do for you?

Meet the ten artists who are taking part in the 2013 Connect10 competition, find out about their creative journeys and what they’d like to create. Could you see any of these ideas working in your museum, gallery, library or heritage site?

Two men, one wearing a rabbit suit

(c) Jake and Dinos Chapman

The Turner Prize-nominated Chapman Brothers studied at the Royal College of Art, and worked as assistants to British artists Gilbert and George. Their iconoclastic sculptures, paintings, prints and large-scale installations draw on confrontational imagery to question standards of politics, political correctness and obscenity in witty and frequently shocking ways: in the past they have reworked Goya etchings and watercolours by Hitler.

The Chapman Brothers’ Connect10 idea:
Off the top of our heads we’re thinking of staging either: a live human Autopsy-Turvy involving radioactive isotopes and a fun game of ‘Hunt the Spleen’; ‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey’ at a zoo; a game of Night Vision Paintball in a cathedral; a Wall of Death Motorcycle Gauntlet in a museum; or something involving industrial storage heaters at a waxwork museum. But if any participating institutions have a better idea we’re completely up for a discussion.

A photograph of a yellow-winged butterfly crushed into powder

Insecticide (c) Mat Collishaw

A black and white photo of a man

Mat Collishaw (c) Axel Hoedt

Mat Collishaw

Central to Mat Collishaw’s work are the themes of illusion and desire, which he uses to draw us into an arena where everyday conventions are broken down and questioned. The photographer and video innovator is known for his hard-hitting images of beauty and cruelty, and has created adult zoetropes, photographed himself trying to catch fairies, and used phosphorescent paint to convey the brief lives of Victorian street children.

Mat Collishaw’s Connect10 idea:
I’d like visitors to help me prepare and make some of my work, in order to get a deeper understanding of my practice and the motives behind what I make and how I make it. These technical practices might include the flattening of the butterflies for my insecticide works or helping me create some of my spinning zoetropes and will be accompanied by informal discussion and guidance from me and my studio assistants.

A sheet of white paper crumpled into a ball

Work No. 88: A sheet of paper crumpled into a ball (1996) (c) Martin Creed, image courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

A man crumpling a white piece of paper

Martin Creed (c) Jason Schmidt

Martin Creed

2001 Turner Prize winner Martin Creed has exhibited his solo shows, performances and installations around the world. His recent works involve various art forms including music, dance, writing, sculpture and painting: pieces ranging from compositions for symphony orchestra and music for elevators to architectural commissions, public monuments and dance and performances which combine classical ballet with talk, music, film and animation.

A group of people sparring with boxing gloves and pads in an art gallery

Box Paint Class, Wide Open School, Hayward Gallery, London (2012) (c) Cullinan Richards

Two women laughing with guns and toolbelts

(c) Cullinan Richards

Cullinan + Richards 

Cullinan Richards is a London-based artistic collaboration between Charlotte Cullinan and Jeanine Richards. Since 1997 they have been producing work ranging from painting to performance to film, fusing personal histories with fiction so as to confront shared social and cultural issues. In 2006, they established Savage School Window Gallery, a gallery exhibiting works from a window in their studio on Vyner Street, London. Together they were on the panel of selectors for the Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2012.

Cullinan + Richards’ Connect10 idea:
We’d love to create a film set for a fictional Tarantino re-make of Russ Meyer’s cult film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! in which the visitors are the extras. Viewers will be immersed in something which looks like a film set, smells like a film set and feels like a film set – this detailed reconstruction will even feature a catering truck serving sweet tea and bad sandwiches served by gallery staff playing the part of the film crew. There will be auditions taking place in various roped off sections of the space, one of which will be a boxing ring where extras will be sparring with casting agents & directors. There will also be a backdrop of projections taking place throughout the space. There could be indoors and outdoors elements to this experience, depending on the venue.

A colourful group of people singing and dancing on an outdoor stage

Susan Forsyth’s Zusammen Choir at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Art, 2008 (c) Susan Forsyth

A woman in front of a bookshelf

(c) Susan Forsyth

Susan Forsyth

Shortlisted for the Jerwood Sculpture Prize in 2009, Susan Forsyth tweaks the canon, using sculpture, text, participatory performance and short films to re-play the historically significant and the everyday ephemeral.  The skill and craft of sculpture-making is important in her work: she gilds; fabricates industrial sheets; casts in plaster, bronze and iron; organises scratch choirs and ping-pong games.

Susan Forsyth’s Connect10 idea:
I like the idea of creating a large scale candle-lit Zusammen Choir Procession, performed entirely by Museums at Night visitors, the more the better, accompanied by a core of professional musicians. Zusammen means ‘together’ in German, so appropriately the songs being sung will be written by Susan in collaboration with the winning venue to tell the story of its unique cultural history through a collaborative public performance. There will be no rehearsals and critically, no singing skill is required. The procession can involve any route through a village, town or city but will end at the winning venue for a gloriously out-of-tune finale.

A person seen from above surrounded by an array of small mirrors

Audience (2008) at Art Basel (c) rAndom International

black and white photo of three men smiling

(c) rAndom International

rAndom International

rAndom create artworks and installations that explore behaviour and interaction, often using light and movement. Founded in 2005 by Stuart Wood, Florian Ortkrass and Hannes Koch, the studio utilises raw fragments of artificial intelligence to encourage relationships between the converging worlds of animate and inanimate. The studio is based in a converted warehouse in Chelsea, London and today includes a growing team of  diverse talent.

rAndom International’s Connect10 idea:
Given that The Rain Room which we installed at The Barbican took 4 years to develop and execute we’re thinking of something marginally smaller in scale but which affects viewers in a similarly immediate way. For Museums at Night, we’d love to stage a one-off performative intervention that engages the wider public with unforeseen aspects of their own expectations in a highly experimental fashion. We’d like to focus this experience around the elements of nature, in particular water and more specifically the sea and the seaside, and actively invite proposals/ideas. The most exciting aspect of Museums at Night for us is seeing what ideas the venues themselves come up with so we don’t want to provide too much information, rather general ideas!

A man wearing a large Russian furry hat

(c) Gavin Turk

Gavin Turk 

Gavin Turk studied at the Royal College of Art and rose to prominence as one of the infamous Young British Artists.  His sculptures and installations critique the construction of artistic myths of authorship, creativity and genius, often using his own image and signature to address issues surrounding authorship, authenticity and identity. Since 2008, Turk and his partner Deborah Curtis have run a project-based group of artists called The House of Fairy Tales, designed to further educational community projects to support and advocate art.

Gavin Turk’s Connect10 idea:
I’m thinking of creating a giant Magic Flying Carpet experience for visitors, accompanied by an evening of fantastical story-telling and yarn spinning, charting a mystical journey through time and history. This journey could reflect the history and context of any venue/location so could be entirely site specific. Alternatively I like the idea of making a large scale light and sound installation – the more immersive the visitor experience the better – mobilising viewers to participate in a live performance of some kind using hundreds of neon glow sticks.

3 different angles on an art installation made of colourful plastic bottles

Holiday Destination (c) Julia Vogl – an artwork that is also a visualisation of data collected from the local community, with colour-coded bottles showing where people intend to spend their holidays

A woman in sunglasses by a multicoloured wall

(c) Julia Vogl

Julia Vogl

Winner of the Aesthetical Art Prize and the Catlin Art Prize, the American and British artist has shown as part of the Saatchi and Channel 4 New Sensations exhibition, and was commissioned to make work for The People’s Supermarket. Vogl’s work is committed to reflecting the community site it is placed in, with a record of scaling buildings including the 40 front windows of Mudd Library in Ohio; HOME, a self-initiated Cultural Olympiad project for Peckham Community in London; and most recently HOLIDAY DESTINATION, for Silver Spring Maryland Shopping mall plaza.

Julia Vogl’s Connect10 idea:
I could create a huge interactive multi-coloured map of a community using 10,000+ vessels (glass, ceramic, plastic, metal, balloon) that can contain water. The vessels could be gathered/donated by the public in the months leading up to the event, at which point I will invite visitors to colour the water with local pigments, natural colour resources or food colouring. Ideally this map could be seen from alternate perspectives in the space. The colour-coding and demographic content will be based on a subject of key interest/relevance to the venue, site and/or location. For this particular idea to work we’ll require a large forum to lay out the work (not necessarily horizontally) and the venue must be able to help me collect thousands of recycled or locally sourced vessels. The details of how we make this interactive installation site-specific are completely up for discussion.

An empty room with a cloud of second-hand books suspended from the ceiling

False Ceiling (1995) (c) Richard Wentworth

A man wearing opticians' measuring glasses

Richard Wentworth (c) Cutler & Gross

Richard Wentworth

Richard Wentworth has played a leading role in New British Sculpture since the end of the 70s. His work has altered the traditional definition of sculpture as well as photography, subversively transforming and manipulating industrial and/or found objects into works of art. In his photography, as in the ongoing series Making Do and Getting By, Wentworth documents the everyday, paying attention to objects, occasional and involuntary geometries as well as uncanny situations that often go unnoticed.

Richard Wentworth’s Connect10 idea:
I’d like to explore how things are assembled, not just physically, with objects and collections, but socially, with people. As an exercise of mass observation, I’ve always wanted to kidnap an entire tube, train, bus, or tram at a random moment to find out who’s on it, where they’re going and why. Alternatively, feeding my deep interest in the history of social protest I’d like to somehow stage a silent riot which would require the participation of several hundred visitors in a large public space. Whatever the outcome of this collaboration, it will relate specifically to the compass of what the museum or gallery does.

A room filled with a twisting sculpture made of grey plumbers' pipes

Making the Connection at the Tabernacle (c) Julian Wild – a touring communal sculpture project in which members of the public can add to a large scale sculpture constructed from plastic plumbers pipe

A man wearing a green check shirt

(c) Julian Wild

Julian Wild 

Julian Wild has exhibited in a range of spaces including the Victoria & Albert Museum, and was shortlisted for the Jerwood Sculpture Prize in 2005. The linear structures that he makes either explore the boundaries of a pre-determined shape or the space that they exist in. His sculptures are often based on the history of the site and reference functional processes and systems. Wild is interested in construction and manufacturing ranging from the functional (e.g. stainless steel handrails) to decorative processes such as japanning. Lately he has created a series of sculptures that are three-dimensional doodles.

Julian Wild’s Connect10 idea:
My favourite idea so far is to create a unique glow-in-the-dark version of ‘Making the Connection’, using white plastic tubing and luminous paint. Members of the public will actually be responsible for assembling this piece of sculpture and at the end of the night the lights in whichever museum or space we’re in will be turned off to reveal a glowing masterpiece. The possibilities regarding the shape and scale of this event depend entirely on the spaces in a venue and if a venue has interesting suggestions as to how this can be applied, I’m very keen to discuss ideas.

Download this information as a 4 page PDF to share

The Connect10 competition is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

The Connect10 competition returns: win an artist and funding towards your Museums at Night event

The Connect10 logo

We’re delighted to announce that the Connect10 competition is back for Museums at Night 2013: your museum or gallery could win one of ten top contemporary artists and a financial subsidy for your Museums at Night event!

In 2013 there will be a share of £35,000 available to pay for venues to work with artists to devise outstanding events.

Any cultural or heritage venue in the country can submit an event idea, forty will be shortlisted to go through to the public vote, and all shortlisted venues that don’t win an artist will be supported, through small grants, to go ahead with a Museums at Night event.

The ten artists taking part are:

  • Jake and Dinos Chapman, irreverent Turner Prize nominees whose provocative sculptures were part of the infamous Young British Artist exhibitions Brilliant! and Sensation. They recently caused controversy by drawing on watercolours believed to have been painted by Hitler.
  • Martin Creedartist and musician who won the 2001 Turner Prize for Work No. 227: the lights going on and off.
  • Mat Collishawphotographer and video innovator known for his hard-hitting images of beauty and cruelty, who has created adult zoetropes, photographed himself trying to catch fairies, and used phosphorescent paint to convey the brief lives of Victorian street children.
  • Cullinan Richardsthe sculpture and filmmaking partnership of Charlotte Cullinan and Jeanine Richards, who work with fiction, personal histories and live performance.
  • Susan ForsythLondon-based sculptor who creates large geometric works such as Wiff-Waff, an enormous gilded ping-pong table inviting visitors to play and make up their own rules.
  • Random Internationaldigital artists and sculptors whose current astounding installation Rain Room at the Barbican invites visitors to walk through a ‘wet room’ yet not get wet!
  • Gavin Turkwho created the travelling art circus House of Fairy Tales which has delighted families in unusual places ranging from literary festivals to Camp Bestival.
  • Julia Vogl, creator of social sculpture, architectural interventions and colourful public engagement projects.
  • Richard WentworthBritish sculpture and installation artist, curator and (back in the day) Damien Hirst’s teacher.
  • Julian Wildsculptor and creator of the Making the Connection communal sculpture construction project.
A colourful group of people singing and dancing on an outdoor stage

Join the fun! Susan Forsyth’s Zusammen Choir at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Art, 2008 (c) Susan Forsyth

The money:

Winning venues receive a bursary of £2000 to support their event, enabling ambitious and creative event programming. The venues who come in second place will receive a £200 bursary towards their alternative Museums at Night events, while those who come third and fourth will receive £100 each, helping everyone to be part of the festival.

How to take part:

If you’re interested in entering the Connect10 competition, which always leads to a lot of publicity and which can be a terrific audience development vehicle, your next steps are:

1) Download our simple at-a-glance Connect10 essentials guide and the detailed Connect10 information pack for venues to read through and discuss with your team. You can also download the terms and conditions for participating venues to make sure you understand what’s expected if you take part.

2) The 10 participating artists have shared statements explaining their approach to Connect10, their inspiration and how they work. Take a look and decide which artist you’re interested in bringing to your venue, and what sort of event you’d like to stage with them.

3) Once you have buy-in from everyone in your organisation, it’s time to enter your event idea. There’s a simple form for you to submit your event ideas online here: this will close at 5pm on Thursday 31 January 2013.

When filling in the form, as well as your contact details and artist selection, we’ll be asking you to outline more about your event idea.

We recommend you write out your responses to this before you go to the submission form, as you can’t save your progress and return to it: if you don’t complete the form within one browser session you will need to start a new one.

Questions will include:

  • Your reason for choosing this particular artist, and the connections you see between their work and your venue, collections or location (maximum 100 words)
  • Details of the event: what will happen, the format it will take, how it will involve audience participation, whereabouts in your venue it will take place, and any other information you want to tell us (maximum 200 words)
  • The type of audience you’re aiming to attract with this event (maximum 100 words)
  • A very basic budget outline explaining what you will spend the £2000 prize money on (maximum 100 words) – don’t forget that the artist’s fee, travel and accommodation costs will already be covered, but you’ll need to budget for the artists’ materials.

The event submission form is here:

If you’d like to discuss your plans with Nick or Rosie first, we’re only a phonecall away on 01273 623279 and 01273 623336.

Thanks – and the very best of luck!

The Connect10 competition is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Audience development tips: who do you want to reach?

The Museums at Night festival and the associated marketing campaign always attracts a lot of publicity, and provide a great vehicle that arts and heritage organisations can use for audience development.

Most museums and galleries are already working on reaching out to their target audiences, but if 2013 will be your first time running an event as part of the festival, it’s worth thinking about how it will fit in with the rest of your programming, and which specific groups of people you’d like to attract.

Two men in red boiler suits by the golden prow of a ship surrounded by a crowd of people

Jellymongers Bompas & Parr draw a crowd to witness jelly flooding the SS Great Britain at dusk during Museums at Night 2012 (c) Stephen Lewis

Targeting specific audiences

Of the 199 venues that responded to our 2012 survey question “Why did you take part in the campaign this year?” 87% said “To attract new audiences” – the top answer.

To effectively attract new audiences a venue first needs to decide who they are currently attracting and who they could potentially attract. By identifying the kind of people you want to attract, you are in a better position to devise events that are likely to succeed in reaching your target audience.

Segmentation is a market research term used to describe a way of grouping people according to their shared beliefs, tastes, needs or behaviours. It can be used as a tool to help your organisation to identify who makes up your target audiences.

Arts Council England produced a report called Arts Audiences: Insight (the Blue Book) which used segmentation methods to identify patterns of arts consumption and attitudes towards the arts. This divided the adult population of England into 3 categories and 13 sub-categories.

We’ve studied the report and identified five audience segments which we think Museums at Night can be particularly successful in attracting significant numbers of people from:

Fun, fashion and friends – this group particularly likes live events and attend fun events with family and friends. They respond to high-profile media campaigns and are online every day, so the festival PR and marketing strategy is ideally suited to them.

Mature explorers – visual arts is their passion, especially when tied in with learning and heritage, so their interests align directly with the campaign. Event ideas that would appeal to this segment include specialist knowledge sharing e.g. curator talks and behind-the-scenes archive tours.

Dinner and a show – this group respond to a sociable artistic offer and one that gives them value for money, for instance two or three events rolled into one offer. Venues taking part in the festival within a cluster may find this segment good to target.

Family and community – this category typically enjoys carnivals as a way of spending time with each other, so we think sleepovers may appeal to them.

Time-poor dreamers – this group are more likely to attend if an event is local, low cost or free and informal (for example, opportunities to drop in and try something for a short time). They may also respond positively to the competition aspect of Connect10.

Take a look at the Arts Audiences Insight report: there are eight other segments which you may feel your venue is more suited to attracting. Choose one or two segments and think about how the event you are devising will appeal to these people.

Evaluating your event against your audience development goals

Finally, consider how you’re going to review the success of your event in attracting your target audience and giving them positive, engaging experiences. You’ll want to account for the numbers of people attending but you could also devise a survey that asks questions designed to get qualitative feedback.

For example, the author of The Participatory Museum, Nina Simon, aims to “build social capital through bridging experiences at and beyond the museum”, so to assess their success in achieving this goal, the questions her team at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History ask their visitors include “Did you meet someone new [through a museum experience]?” and “Did you encounter something that surprised you?”

Don’t forget, all organisations participating in Museums at Night are welcome to use our visitor survey, which we’ll make available in 2013 – but you may want to take our standard questions and add in some that are specific to your organisation. If you’re doing this, all we ask is that you share your results data back with us so it can be included in our evaluation of the festival.

More information:

Taking part in the Arts

The Audience Agency

The Arts Marketing Association’s screencasts on how to attract a broader audience (Part One: working internally and Part Two: working externally)

Audiences London research project Not for the Likes of You

Download this audience development introduction as a one-page PDF

Guest post: Signe Troost on social media at Amsterdam’s N8 Museumnacht

Our former Museums at Night intern Signe Troost is part of the blogging team at Amsterdam’s Museumnacht, N8. In our latest guest post, she shares her experiences as part of the social media team during their big night: if your town or city is running a cluster of events for Museums at Night 2013, these ideas could be useful!


One night.

50 venues.

250 events.

Museum Night Amsterdam 2012 (N8) was spectacular and magical in many ways!

NEMO, the Amsterdam Science Centre, held an event focusing on sustainability and recycling which culminated in a silent disco.

As a N8 blogger, I was asked to join the Social Media team: the whole idea was set up by our community manager, Sezayi.

The Social Media team’s mission

25 museums had Live Stream screens up during the night, showing all the #museumnacht tweets and the tweets with their own hash tag. The Social Media team made sure the stream kept on going with tweets, re-tweets and pictures.

Women dressed like 1940s pinup Bettie Page

Dressing up to the nines for Bettie Page night at the Amsterdam Tattoo Museum (c) De Fotomeisjes

All the venues were covered, because each member of the Social Media team was asked which venues he/she was planning to visit. I visited about 10 venues, which is a lot, because a very nice guy with a scooter was kind enough to drive me around the city that night!

What should you tweet?

The members of the Social Media team were asked to live-tweet from every venue we visited. Information about any queues, descriptions of the atmosphere and reviews of the events were really useful, because they helped potential visitors decide where to go next.

Dancers wearing costumes from the early nineteenth century in a historic house at night

Don’t miss this! Historic dancing in costume at the Geelvinck-Hinlopen Huis (c) Maarten Jüngen

N8 is a platform for all museums in Amsterdam, and each museum puts money, time and effort into creating its Museum Night events. As a blogger and part of the Social Media team I had to keep this in mind.

Tweets with a negative tone of voice are no use to anyone, because they can put people off the idea of going to a particular venue, and threaten the success of ongoing events there.

The solution: if a museum seems empty, or the activity doesn’t turn out to be as much fun as it sounded, you can tweet something like ‘Plenty of space here, come down to the X museum and get this party started!’ 

A man and a woman in front of multi-coloured diagonal stripes

A couple share a quiet moment at the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art (c) Roderick Nijenhuis

Useful apps

Two very useful apps for the Social Media team were Moby and Tweetdeck: our manager made sure we could all log in to these using the official N8 account.

Tweetdeck was great for posting messages to Twitter, while allowing us to keep track of what other people were writing about N8 so we could respond to them if necessary.

Two girls sticking post-it notes with writing on to an art installation shaped like a horse

Visitors add their comments to an interactive artwork at the Allard Pierson Museum (c) Maarten Nauw

Moby came in handy to shoot pictures and share them immediately – and we asked visitors to share their pictures of the night with Moby, too. All the tweets and pictures are gathered together on the N8 website – take a look, because it looks really cool!

Atmospheric descriptions

I’d never used Moby before that night and I have to admit, I didn’t really have time to figure it out. So I mostly tweeted descriptively, trying to convey the ambience of the museums I went to.  This led to some interesting discussions about the empty buildings in the Amsterdam Architecture Centre, and the magical atmosphere in the Portuguese Synagogue which was lit up by a thousand candles.

Musicians play to a large audience in a historic synagogue lit only by glowing candles

Violinists play for a hushed crowd as part of a candlelit concert at the Portuguese Synagogue (c) Coockie Manella

It was great to contribute to the endless stream of tweets and share everything that I saw, did and felt with other N8-goers.

Uniting Amsterdam’s museums

The fact that half of the participating venues had Live Streams up and running is amazing, because it means that our museums are not only embracing the possibilities of social media, but visibly experienced its benefits.

Social media provides a new way of connecting heritage venues and collections with their audiences, and, as N8 proved, it also established a bond between all the museums in Amsterdam.

A smiling woman with auburn hairSigne Troost is a Cultural Heritage graduate and blogs for Museum Night Amsterdam. She is currently doing an internship at the Art Committee of the Dutch Ministry of Finance, but hopes to be a museum director by the time she is fifty.


Thanks, Signe!

If you’re reading this and you’ve got something to say about any aspect of audience development, after-hours event planning or marketing for arts and heritage venues, I’d love to publish your guest posts too. Drop me an email at