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.

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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.

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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.

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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 rosie@culture24.org.uk.

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