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.

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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!

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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.

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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 rosie@culture24.org.uk.

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