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

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

  1. Pingback: Adam Clarke on bringing history to life with Minecraft for Museums at Night | Museums at Night Blog

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