Monthly Archives: May 2013

It’s Elemental: Team Culture24 take on the UCL Museums at Night treasure hunt!

The Museums at Night Festival was in to its second day. The staff at Culture24 had taken on bats, community sculpture and cocktails. Representing Culture24, Jack, Holly and Amy were preparing for the real challenge; attempting to win the UCL Museum treasure hunt.

The event started at 6:30 in a small lecture theatre, taking our three treasure seekers back to their University days. The winners of this year’s event would be rewarded with the prize of £40 in Foyle’s vouchers; a great way to encourage eager museum book worms and bring out a competitive spirit.

The task was simple; the C24 team had to race around the four UCL Museums, seeking the answers to clues. Ultimately, the answers would give them an anagram and a set of numbers. Once they solved the word puzzle, they would have a phone number, which once rung, would win them the treasure hunt.

C24 team started on their travels round the four museums trying to solve the clues at each site. When they came to the Petrie Museum they found the clues notably harder. The difficulty was increased by the fact that there were several red herrings.

treasure hunt

Team C24 puzzling over the clues at the UCL Treasure Hunt

Everyone had been instructed to report to the Grant Museum promptly at 8pm for the final part of the hunt. The room was packed with teams attempting to work out the anagram, gesturing wildly at the taxidermy with their pencils.

“Treasure map! Tyrannosaurus!” Amy squeaked excitedly, causing a slight tremor in the bat skeleton behind them. From over the crowd, a wine glass shattered, and one of the museum staff jumped. “I hope that was a glass and not a jar of…anything” she said, gaily.

Suddenly, from behind the ape skeletons leaned insouciantly on the upper railing a phone rang out. Despite their valiant efforts to get all the clues right, C24 had been narrowly beaten by another team.  But they all agreed over a lovely glass of Zoology Museum wine that they had thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Early feedback on Museums at Night weekend

Wow! Thank you to everyone who made Museums at Night 2013 such a success. The tweets, photos and emails have been flooding in from across the UK and we’re delighted to hear how many people had a great time discovering arts and heritage sites.

People creating colourful light trails in a dark room

Illuminator Imaginator light paintings taken during the Late Shows at Centre for Life, Newcastle. Image shared under a Creative Commons licence

A few highlights from across the web:

This volunteer donned a silver cape to help create Gavin Turk’s pyramid-themed Ancient Egyptian event at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. Culture24 arts writer Mark Sheerin went along and found the cosmic powers improved the health of his houseplant – an unexpected outcome, but a positive one!

The Scunthorpe Nights team were surprised by go-go dancing and boxing during Cullinan Richards’ event at the 20-21 Visual Arts Centre, inspired by Russ Meyer’s film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Author Helen Grant recounted reading ghost stories at Innerpeffray Library’s spooky, atmospheric event.

Nathan Richardson described 6 very different places he discovered during Liverpool’s Light Night, the culture crawl that takes over the city for Museums at Night each year.

Amy, Holly and Jack from Culture24, guided by our leader from afar, took up the challenge of a Museums at Night elemental treasure hunt around the collections of UCL Museums: Jack also discovered 18 Stafford Terrace, the Linley Sambourne House.

“The sight of the shrunken heads by torch light was particularly uncanny,” Rhianedd Smith from Museum Studies Reading reported after visiting Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum as darkness fell.

How was it for you?

If your venue ran a Museums at Night event we’d really like to know how it went, what worked well, and what we could improve next year. Please take a few minutes to fill in the Museums at Night 2013 Venue Survey – you could win a £50 Amazon voucher!

Send us your visitor surveys!

If you put out printed visitor survey forms during your event, now’s the time to post any completed forms back to us so we can process the data. Our address is:


Office 4, 28 Kensington Street



Did you visit an event?

If you went along to a Museums at Night event as a visitor, please tell us what you thought by filling in our Museums at Night 2013 visitor survey.

Perhaps you were one of the Late Shows visitors who contributed to Julia Vogl‘s social sculpture at the Discovery Museum – can you see yourself in this timelapse video?

Museums at Night: COLLECT. SELECT. STRING & HOIST from Julia Vogl on Vimeo.

Share your photos

Finally, we’ve had a flood of terrific images through – if you have photos or videos from your Museums at Night events, please email them to

Thanks again for all your support in making the festival such a success!

Museums at Night 2013 has begun!

After long anticipation Museums at Night has finally arrived! We are very excited to see some amazing pictures coming through on Twitter from people getting involved in events, exhibitions and performances across the UK.

Fantastic Owls at last nights Museums at Night event #MatN2013 Thank you to all who braved the weather! (c) Oxford Museum

Our own reporters have been racing across the country. Rosie Clarke spent last night in Lancashire, singing along with Susan Forsyth’s  Zusammen Choir while Amy Strike spent her Thursday night detecting bats at Hatchlands Park. Ben Miller, Nick Stockman and Sejul Malde visited the Horniman Museum to see rAndom International’s installation, and Ruth Hazard enjoyed an exclusive night behind the scenes at the Faber and Faber Archives.

light installation

The Horniman Museum

Tonight the Culture24 interns, along with Jack Shoulder will be dashing around the Grant Museum of Zoology for the UCL Treasure Hunt, while Richard Moss will be in the Brighton Toy and Model Museum examining trains.

Nick Stockman will be on the way up to Newcastle tomorrow to take part in Julia Vogl’s giant art installation, while Jane Finnis will be joining the Chapman Brothers at the Jerwood Gallery. Meanwhile, Anra Kennedy will be making a Great Escape to Brighton Museum, and Amy will be curled up in Brunel House’s Midnight Apothecary, recovering with a cocktail.


Creative mask making and papercraft at Tullie House last night at #MatN2013 @thecommonpeople

If you are looking for a Museums at Night event to go to there is still time!

You can find out more about the hundreds of events happening over the next two days here.

We look forward to hearing about your Museums at Night adventures!

Guest post: Sarah Power brings steampunk to Norwich’s Dragon Hall

On the eve of Museums at Night 2013, Sarah Power describes the inspiration behind her plans for the steampunk event at Norwich’s Dragon Hall.


Dragon Hall is a unique Grade 1 listed medieval trading hall dating from around 1430, renowned for its spectacular timber crown-post roof and intricately carved and painted dragon.  It’s located on Norwich’s historic King Street which has seen, and still sees, most of life.

A ceiling hall of wooden beams

Looking up at the beams in the Great Hall (c) Dragon Hall

So close to Connect10…

Our Museums at Night event In the Company of the Curious: Steampunk at Dragon Hall takes place tomorrow night – Thursday 16 May. It will see the culmination of a whirlwind few months for our museum. After the shock of losing by 5 votes in the Connect10 competition to the wonderful Manchester Museums, I have been working hard to develop an utterly unusual alternative evening for our visitors.

Anachronistic inspiration

We are lucky to have a tireless team of volunteer researchers who are slowly discovering and revealing more details about the history of the Dragon Hall site. One of their recent research projects has been an investigation into the census from 1841 to 1911 to find out more about the people that lived on this site during that period.

As Norwich’s population grew, so did the need for low-cost housing. This was solved by dividing the once-grand houses into tenements and filling the yards at the rear with poor quality housing. Dragon Hall was one such building, and the group’s research revealed fascinating insights into the people who lived and worked in the squalid environment of King Street.

But what if…?

Museums at Night is a wonderful opportunity to create an evening of interesting and alternative events which it would be difficult to present during the day-to-day opening of our museums. This is where ‘Victorian Steampunk’ popped to my mind!

A man wearing a steampunk outfit and dark glasses

An example of steampunk style

This fascinating all-inclusive subculture has taken the UK by storm in the past few years. It’s broadly inspired by the industrialised Western civilization of the 19th century, but set in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has regained mainstream use.

A sinister Victorian man with a cane, riding crop and top hat

See a darker side to Dragon Hall for Museums at Night

Visually fascinating, morally delightful and philosophically optimistic, Steampunk has it all and with the freedom to explore the era in a creative way, I couldn’t resist putting on a Steampunk evening here at Dragon Hall.

A woman sitting at a table with candles

Army of Mice will be performing live at the steampunk night

The evening is packed full of Steampunk delights including a Victorian peepshow, live bands, a fireplace feature film, parlour games, live poetry and interactive performances, tea duelling and much much more!

A poster of musicians in animal masks

The Familiars: just part of Dragon Hall’s exciting lineup

We look forward to welcoming a colourful crowd for our Museums at Night steampunk evening: find out more and book tickets here.


A blonde woman smiling Sarah Power has worked in the heritage industry since graduating from the School of History at UEA in 2007. She was thrilled to become the Heritage Engagement Manager at Dragon Hall in 2010 tasked with taking the existing learning and volunteer programme forward. With a passion for learning for all, Sarah has developed an exciting education programme to promote innovative learning experiences and fuel the curiosity of all Dragon Hall’s visitors.


Thanks, Sarah!

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

Museums at Night 2013 last minute marketing tips

There’s nothing like a Museums at Night event to get people excited, and already  we’ve seen lots of media coverage of your events. Want more? Here are some last-minute promotional tactics that you can carry out in the next 15 minutes.

1) Register!

Make sure that your Museums at Night event is registered in Culture24’s database! With two days till the festival kicks off, this is your very last chance to benefit from our national PR campaign: if journalists ask us what’s happening in your area, and we don’t have details of your event, we can’t spread the word about it! Here’s how to register.

2) Make sure your event is listed on your own website

Double check that you’re promoting whatever your Museums at Night event is on your own site (and Facebook page, if you have one). It sounds obvious but at the very least you need to list the date, event times and ticket price, along with contact details for potential visitors to make a booking or find out more.

3) Chase your local media

If you’ve already sent press releases, that’s great – but now’s the time to follow up with a phone call. Your local newspapers and radio stations are looking for content – so could you do a short interview with them on Thursday morning about the Museums at Night excitement you’re planning?

Will they send a reporter or photographer along on the night? Phone them now!

4) Use your social media channels

Reach out to your followers on Twitter, Facebook, your blog, and any other social media channels you use. Share your excitement as you get ready – we’re already seeing some great behind-the-scenes photos being tweeted, such as this teaser from artist Julian Wild:

… and this costumed preview from Chiltern Open Air Museum:

However, in your messages, be sure to include a link to your event listing online, or to the site where people can find out more and book tickets. Rather than just broadcasting, if you want your followers to take action, make it easy for them by giving them a link to click rather than forcing them to Google for more details.

Don’t forget, the Twitter hashtag for Museums at Night 2013 is #MatN2013 – if you use it, we’ll retweet you.

5) Send an email about your event

Send a quick newsflash reminder to your email network about your Museums at Night event – this is their last chance to book tickets! Bonus points if you have a good image to include.

6) Guerrilla marketing on the night

You’ve already distributed posters, flyers and leaflets around your area, but you want to attract new audiences on the night too – but if you don’t have enough staff to stand outside welcoming potential visitors, how can you grab their attention?

Good signage can make a big difference: if your venue’s on a side street that doesn’t get much passing traffic, use pop-up A-frame signs to catch people’s eye.

Don’t have signs? Simply chalk on the pavements! During Museums at Night last year several venues chalked a trail of arrows to direct passers-by to their front doors, and were delighted to report that this drew in curious new visitors.

7) Keep us updated!

If your tickets are selling slowly or quickly, if you may have to cancel or if your event’s now fully booked, please update us! Call 01273 623336 or tweet @MuseumsAtNight.

A basket of champagne bottles

To be opened very soon … they’re from the champagne tasting night at Bath’s Fashion Museum, and they’ve got our name on! (c) Bath Fashion Museum

Thanks to everyone who’s shared their marketing highlights with us, including blog posts by poets performing at events; a teaser feature about artist Richard Wentworth’s Museums at Night plans for Manchester;  and this promotional video from Liverpool’s Light Night:

LightNight from the Hatch on Vimeo.

And finally, thanks for all your lovely comments about this year’s BBC History Magazine Guide to Museums at Night!

Guest post: Nerys Williams on staging live music at Gladstone Pottery Museum

Just a few days to go till Museums at Night 2013 kicks off on Thursday 16 May! Our latest Museums at Night guest post is by Nerys Williams, who discusses Gladstone Pottery Museum’s first ever Museums at Night event. 


The sun setting behind a bottle shaped brickwork structure

The sun sets behind the bottle oven at Gladstone Pottery Museum.

We haven’t taken part in Museums At Night before and I’m busy planning our first ever foray into this new and exciting territory. This is thanks to a bursary from Culture24 for being runner up in the Connect10 competition, another first for me which had surprisingly wonderful results.

For some time I’ve been working with local artists who will be putting on a multimedia extravaganza at our site this September. They seemed the ideal people to help with an after hours event and are a fab bunch of creative, positive types who immediately set about planning something very special.

My humble (and fairly simple to carry out, but bang went that idea….) plans for an evening opening went out the window within about 30 seconds of our first meeting. ‘A Night At The Kiln’ quickly took shape and will be an evening of music, poetry, art and film on Thursday 16 May. Scores have been composed, the line-up grew and grew and it promises to be a really good ‘do’.

Brickwork buildings at night.

The iconic bottle oven at Gladstone Pottery Museum.

A trombonist will be playing in one of our bottle ovens. Iconic is a word so overused you can almost hear it creaking from the weight of hyperbole loaded upon it – but bottle ovens really do deserve this accolade. They’re huge, imposing brick structures once used to fire pottery. To have musicians playing a piece inspired by the pottery industry inside one is an exciting prospect. Coincidentally they also have ace acoustics.

Internationally renowned soprano Denise Leigh has kindly agreed to sing at the event – I’m still a little stunned by this! Putting an opera star under the stars at our site for Museums at Night was beyond my imagination (or contact list).

Along with piano, clarinet, harmonica, singing children and poetry there’s a lot of material in the programme written about our local heritage. We even have a ‘spit’ poet. Not being as ‘down with the kids’ as I thought I was, this had to be explained to me – for any others who are looking blank it’s a bit like rap. Local artist Rob Pointon will be painting it all as it happens.

It’s good for me to work with artists who put creative impact first and practical concerns further down the list. I do occasionally have to urge to stand on a table and demand lists and risk assessments in a matronly voice but our Museums at Night event is making me realise what can be achieved with willing partners.

I have vetoed the Chinese lanterns though. My worry that they’d land on something/someone causing a flaming fireball and blackening the museum’s name with metaphorical soot forever, was too much for me to bear. Even with my newfound fondness for the lovable but as-difficult-to-herd-as-cats art world, I have to draw the line somewhere!

A pair of hands painting a design on a piece of pottery.

An example of the pottery painting at Gladstone Pottery Museum.

 It’s back to the practicalities for me now, with press releases to write, posters to produce and a full on assault on social media to complete.

Come and join us! Tickets are £5 which includes a glass of wine or fruit juice, and can bought in person from Gladstone Pottery Museum or by calling 01782 237777. Doors open at 7.15pm.

For more information on Gladstone see or our Gladstone Pottery Museum Facebook page.


Picture of a woman in glass and a hat.

Nerys Williams

Nerys Williams is the Audience Development Officer for Gladstone, is passionate about the site and fond of industrial heritage and cake. She plans and publicises events of all types, from the International Marquetry Exhibition to making Pigoons (balloon pigs) during half term. Nerys loves the variety of her job – she can be organising a book signing by a local author one day and discussing turning circles and timetables for a classic bus rally the next. Museum life is never boring.


Thanks, Nerys!

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

Got good or bad news about your Museums at Night event?

With seven days to go until the festival explodes into life, it’s that time when last minute changes happen – so please keep us informed!

A woman in 18th century costume inside a historic building

A face from the past at London’s Benjamin Franklin House, preparing to take visitors back in time (c) Benjamin Franklin House

Making changes

We’ve already sent out a lot of press releases about the Museums at Night events registered in our database. If the details of your event have changed, please log in to your record and amend the listing.

Slow ticket sales

If you’re having difficulty selling tickets and your team are getting concerned that your event may not be a success, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can go all out to flag it up in our public-facing communications. If you let us know straight away, we may be able to help you! Contact Nick Stockman on or call 01273 623278.


If for some reason you need to cancel your event, please tell us so we don’t keep promoting the event and send frustrated visitors your way, only to be disappointed! Simply email ASAP.

Sold out?

We’re always pleased to hear that your events are sold out – but the public need to know as well.

Log in to your event record and open the Event Status dropdown menu – then change the status from Confirmed to Fully Booked, and save your changes.

A form with a red arrow pointing to the words Fully Booked

All the best!

There’s not long to go, now – excitement is mounting and the Museums at Night team are already getting booked up for radio interviews! And for the second year running we have well over 500 Museums at Night events taking place across the UK – find out what’s happening in your area at

Museums at Night 2013 visitor surveys: free to use!

Museums at Night is now only a handful of days away, and we have a suggestion for all participating venues.

If you’re planning to survey the visitors who come along to your event, please consider either downloading and using our official visitor survey, or copying our questions to use in your survey.

These survey questions were designed by our independent evaluator, and if you do use them, we’d love to include your results in our official evaluation of the festival.

Download the official Museums at Night visitor survey here.

Once the surveys are filled in, if you’re able to, please type the responses into a spreadsheet and email it to us by Friday 24th May. If you don’t have the capacity to do this data entry, you can post your visitor survey forms to Culture24 office and we’ll process them for you.

Help us – and yourselves!

Whether or not you decide to survey your visitors, on the night of your event, there are two things your team can do that would be really helpful:

1) Count the number of visitors who come to your event

We’ll be asking every venue to send us their visitor numbers afterwards. Last year, over 120,000 visitors came along to Museums at Night events, including more than 45,000 people who were new to the venue they visited and over 5000 people who had never been to any arts or heritage venue before. It’s great to have these numbers, and we are hoping that even more people will attend Museums at Night this year.

2) Take high-resolution photos you’ll be able to use for marketing in the future

Every year we ask participating venues for images to illustrate the idea of Museums at Night, and it’s always a challenge. Pictures showing people having a good time while exploring your building and interacting with your collections are really useful. If you’re taking photos of children, be sure to ask permission from their parents or guardians. You can find guidance on photos and publicity here.

A concert taking place inside a cathedral

Evening concert in Grimsby Minster, one of several Grimsby venues taking part in Museums at Night 2013

Eight days to go … we hope you are as excited as we are!

Guest Post: Ross Graham on the Granary Gallery’s portrait evening

Hope everyone had a good long weekend! Our latest Museums at Night guest post is by Ross Graham, discussing the newly-converted Granary Gallery’s first ever Museums at Night event.


Two visitors view artwork a gallery

Visitors admire some of the art work on display in the gallery.

The Granary Gallery is a very recently opened gallery space located in the newly converted (you guessed it) Old Granary building found on the historic walls of that most northern of north towns, Berwick Upon Tweed. Although the gallery is located in The Granary (now a very modern YHA building with great food), it is owned and run by Berwick Visual Arts, part of The Maltings Theatre and Cinema which is just 2 minutes away.

A Portrait of Portraits, our Museums at Night event

This will be the first time we have taken part in Museums at Night and are very eagerly awaiting the response we will get.

For a small town, Berwick-upon-Tweed has a large bunch of artists from all kinds of backgrounds, with all kinds of skills. With this event we are hoping to draw them all in – painters, sketchers, crafters, photographers and film makers of all ages.

The evening will be an open door event with no pre-booking required, and the activities will be… well, they will be ‘active’ from the start! We currently have the Ruth Borchard Collection of Self-Portraits in the Gallery, so what better than a night for visitors to create their own self-portraits?

There will be all kinds of materials available from simple pencils and paper to craft materials and even (fingers crossed) digital face editing. We will also have an artist on site who will be creating portraits for visitors even if they don’t want to try designing their own – although we hope that everybody who visits on the night will be inspired to create something.

People looking at artwork in a gallery

Visitors looking at the artwork in the Granary Gallery


To spread the word about our Museums at Night event we have done the usual: creating posters, sending emails, using our social media channels, spreading  word-of-mouth through gossip, sending owls etc.

However, the new marketing idea we’re really excited about is starting a competition. We are asking people to submit photos of their own portraits to our Facebook and Instagram pages. The top 5 pictures on each page that get the most ‘likes’ by the 17th May will be put up for judgement by visitors at the actual event – and the winner will receive complimentary film tickets to The Maltings.

See you on the night!


Picture of a man in a hat and dark clothing Ross Graham has worked in The Maltings Theatre and Cinema for about 6 years: he has worked in most areas throughout that time and now works at the Box Office, helps with Youth Drama and is the Education and Community Development Worker for the Theatre.


Thanks, Ross!

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