Monthly Archives: April 2013

Guest Post: Rona MacAulay and Mark Gibbs on Tullie House’s Art Gallery takeover

Our latest Museums at Night guest post is by Mark Gibbs and Rona MacAulay from Tullie House, introducing two very exciting Museums at Night events intended for two different types of audience.


Exterior of a historic building with trees and benches

Tullie House, shared under a Creative Commons licence by Flickr user dvdbramhall

In 2012 Tullie House ran a family-oriented Museums at Night event based on our ‘Secret Egypt’ exhibition. Later in 2012 Tullie House was fortunate to receive Arts Council Funding as a consortium of museums with The Wordsworth Trust and the Lakeland Arts Trust. With the recruitment of new staff, we were able to widen our audience focus and so have decided to run two separate events this year.

On Thursday 16 May 2013, we’re proud to present The Art Gallery Takeover – A Magical Landscape!

For one night only, we hope to open a portal to an amazing parallel universe, a place where our 16 + visitors can chill out to ambient music, have a drink and be drawn in to creating an alternative Cumbria filled with fantastical buildings and strange landscapes.

Cumbria isn’t short on amazing landscapes and historic structures what with fells and Hadrian’s Wall, but we hope to create a new virtual world using the wonders of the computer game Minecraft.  Now for all I know you’re an experienced Minecraft architect and think nothing of building a 3D Taj Mahal, complete with solar powered jacuzzis in those pools out the front, but for the rest of us… it’s digital Lego, with bells on.

So we will have volunteers from the gaming community helping visitors build their own virtual buildings and landforms, placed on a virtual Cumbria and projected huge to form a light sculpture. Our Archaeology Curator will be supervising the recreation of Carlisle’s Roman fort… which is neat, because it would have stood right where the gallery is now.

Gamers from around the world are invited to get building, real estate prices are rising fast! Watch this space for how to join in.

There will also be real Lego, paper crafts and ‘fancy dress figure drawing’ too, essential components of any alternative party I’m sure you’ll agree!

Secondly, on Friday 17 May 2013 we’ve planned a family-friendly Roman night – Legends and Luguvalium: Explore Roman Carlisle!

As May is Local History Month, we will be celebrating all things Roman. Staff and visitors will be encouraged to dress up and get into the spirit of things. There will be a photographer on the night who will print out photographs of families in Roman costume which they can take home with them as a souvenir.

The evening will include storytelling sessions with Roman soldier Ajax who will tell visitors about his life and duties. Despite gambling being illegal in Rome, there appears to have been a particular fondness for games of chance at the time.

A cartoon mouse dressed as a Roman soldier

Tullie Mouse will be part of the family trail through the gallery

Visitors will be invited to create Roman coins out of clay and gold paint before playing our human ‘fruit machine’ to win prizes in our craft activity. Tullie House’s curator of archaeology will be leading object handling sessions with visitors throughout the night where they will be able to handle and learn about real Roman artefacts. I hope that the evening will showcase Tullie House as an informative, entertaining and welcoming environment for all ages and stages.


To publicise our Museums at Night events, Tullie House has a strong relationship with our local radio station BBC Radio Cumbria and they are brilliant at interviewing members of staff in the run up to special events.

The evening has been promoted to our current audience in our recent Easter holiday family friendly sessions, when we invited visitors to come back again with their families. We’ll also be using our Facebook and Twitter accounts to create excitement and keep our online followers informed.


A smiling woman with dark hairRona MacAulay is the Family Learning Officer at Tullie House. This is the first event that she and Mark have run at Tullie House, and they are looking forward to sharing their tips and inspiring stories from this year’s event next year!

A man in front of an artworkMark Gibbs is the Secondary and Post 16 Formal Learning Officer at Tullie House


Thanks, Rona and Mark!

If you’re reading this and you have an interesting story to tell or case study to share about planning or marketing after-hours events at your arts or heritage venue, I’d love to publish your guest posts as well. Please email

Guest post: Antonia Grant describes Handel House Museum’s first Museums at Night event

Here at C24 Towers we’re delighted with this year’s BBC History Magazine Guide to Museums at Night: copies of the brochure should now have arrived at all participating venues. We’re dressing up smartly to head off to the Museums at Night launch at the Cutty Sark this evening, and will report back tomorrow!

Our latest guest post is by Antonia Grant from London’s Handel House Museum, who introduces their first ever Museums at Night event.


Handel House Museum is located just a stone’s throw from Bond Street, tucked away on Brook Street. It offers the more intrepid tourist a historic haven to relax and have an intimate glimpse into the life and home of one of the world’s greatest composers, George Frideric Handel.

The museum, part of London Small Historic Houses, is built over two floors reflecting both the private and public persona of Handel, while intriguingly, over 300 years later another iconic composer and musician moved in next door, the legendary Jimi Hendrix. You couldn’t get a more musically fantastic cocktail!

An open harpsichord in the corner of a room with pictures on the wall.

A harpsichord on display at Handel House Museum (c) Matthew Hollow

Overcoming challenges – Hallelujah!

I was very excited at the prospect of Handel House taking part in this year’s Museums at Night for the first time. I’d run a similar event last year at Edinburgh University’s Collection of Historic Musical Instruments, which proved extremely popular, attracting a diverse audience. At Handel House, again, one of the main challenges was the space and accessibility.

Our idea is to have a series of activities taking place throughout the evening, centered on this year’s theme ‘Handel by Candle!’ We’ll be running candlelit tours and harpsichord recitals for small, intimate groups as well as offering free admission for visitors from 6:30 – 10pm.

Four poster bed and visitors.

Visitors viewing the bedroom at Handel House (c) Niusia Winczewski

A unique selling point

As part of the museum’s public events programme, a Baroque music concert takes place in the historic Rehearsal and Performance room. This is the very room Handel would have used to rehearse his next operas or oratorios to an invited audience and we keep this tradition alive every week.

By offering a concert during Museums at Night we hope to share this special space with a new audience. There will be an opportunity for our younger visitors to interact with the House on the evening too, with fun family trails and activity sheets and Georgian costumes to dress up in.

Publicity tips – from Baroque to Rock star!

As the evening will be open to families and adults, we’ll use a number of ways to reach out to both these groups. We will issue a press release to local and targeted newspapers and magazines, as well as adding the event on various family-friendly and event listings sites. Not forgetting social media: Facebook and Twitter are great ways to reach our audience and link with similar organisations and people.

We’ll build interest by revealing different elements of the evening – but not too much to spoil the surprise! And so as not to forget our already loyal audience, we will let them know about the event by including it in our season brochure and monthly e-newsletter.

Children in historic costume and wigs

Young visitors dressing up at Handel House Museum (c) Niusia Winczewski

As it will be the first time we’ve participated in the Museums at Night festival, we can’t wait to find out how it goes!


A woman in a white jumper

Antonia Grant has worked at Handel House Museum for over a year as the Learning and Events Officer. She obtained a BA Degree in History and Classical Civilisation from University College Dublin followed by a MSc in History, Theory and Display from Edinburgh University.

Antonia is interested in making the arts as accessible as possible to a wide audience, and creating innovative and exciting learning programmes and events.


Thanks, Antonia!

If you’re reading this and you have an interesting story to tell or case study to share about planning or marketing after-hours events at your arts or heritage venue, I’d love to publish your guest posts as well. Please email