Monthly Archives: July 2013

Heritage Open Days: register to take part by Thursday 1 August 2013

If you enjoyed taking part in Museums at Night, you may also be considering participating in Heritage Open Days, the annual inclusive event encouraging different interpretations of heritage and culture around the country. Could you open up your venue for free to welcome in new visitors?

Grandparents look on as a small boy climbs a ladder up in to a historic loft

Exploring hidden corners with Heritage Open Days (c) Alun Bull

But hurry! The deadline to register your events is tomorrow: Thursday, 1st August.

All the details about how to take part are on the Get Involved section of their website, which includes links to volunteering opportunities.

Here are the conditions you need to meet to take part, here’s more information about registering events, and here’s the event registration form.

Here at Museums at Night HQ, we love the friendly and helpful HODs team and the work they do: if you can’t take part this time around, why not go along and discover some of the historical places you wouldn’t normally get the chance to explore?

A magnifying glass over a map

Looking for more inspiration? Check out the new Heritage Open Days event directory!

Guest post: Holly Hyams and Jade Montserrat create a Museum of the Night at Scarborough Museums Trust

Today’s guest post comes from Holly Hyams and Jade Montserrat from Scarborough Museums Trust, who explain how they created a ‘museum of the night’ experience in two venues – including an art boxing match!


Scarborough Museums Trust comprises two very different cultural venues in Scarborough: the Rotunda Museum – the William Smith Museum of Geology, and Scarborough Art Gallery, both housed in impressive 19th century buildings. Inspired by the desire to forge links between the worlds of geology and art, we applied for Museums at Night’s Connect10 competition, hoping to win artist Julia Vogl to create a large scale geological map at the Rotunda Museum.

a moon rising at dusk above a museum roof

Moonrise above Scarborough’s Rotunda Museum (c) Scarborough Museums Trust

Though we narrowly lost out to Newcastle’s mighty Discovery Museum, taking part in the competition was a fantastically rewarding experience. With the votes pouring in, it was incredibly encouraging to perceive the public’s support for our idea, whilst the competitive element helped create a real buzz amongst our staff. Having come second in the voting, we were determined not to let our supporters down and decided to stage alternative events both at the Rotunda Museum and Scarborough Art Gallery.

Exterior photo of an art gallery at night

Scarborough Art Gallery after dark (c) Scarborough Museums Trust

At the Rotunda, we took Museums at Night back to basics by creating a museum ‘of the night’. Museums have a unique atmosphere after hours, and we capitalised on this by displaying a selection of unexpected objects from our collections which wouldn’t usually be exhibited at the Rotunda. For one night only, taxidermy creatures of the night – owls, foxes, badgers, and hedgehogs – jostled with Victorian night-dresses, whale-oil lamps and candle-snuffers.

A taxidermy hedgehog

Hedgehog on display (c) Scarborough Museums Trust

The mood was enhanced through low-level lighting and the use of battery-operated candles which flickered eerily amongst the displays. The concept was simple but effective: visitors enjoyed the thrill of the strange atmosphere and having access to the Scarborough Collections – the name given to all the objects acquired by the Borough over the years and cared for by the Trust on behalf of the town.

taxidermy stuffed owl

Close encounter with an owl from the Scarborough Collections (c) Scarborough Museums Trust

At the Art Gallery, we again took advantage of the late night opening in order to offer visitors something different. Collaborating with Crescent Arts, a visual arts collective which supports emerging contemporary artists, we decided to host an evening of poetry and performance featuring local poet Jo Reed, Future Shorts films and an art book exchange, with events happening simultaneously at both venues (Crescent Arts being located conveniently within the basement area of Scarborough Art Gallery).

A group of smiling people in costumes

Art KO boxing match competitors (c) Scarborough Museums Trust

Thanks to the creative genius of Stuart Cameron, Director of Crescent Arts, the concept of the Big Art KO Boxing Match was born. A tongue-in-cheek performance, the boxing match involved staff members from the two organisations donning costumes and metaphorically ‘slugging it out’ in a makeshift boxing ring, whilst answering questions on art trivia. Light-heartedly embodying the age-old dispute between realist and conceptualist art, a pretend tryst between Scarborough Art Gallery and Crescent Arts was a novel way of celebrating our collaboration on the night, and one which certainly got the public talking!


Two smiling women in a galleryJade Montserrat is currently a resident artist at Crescent Arts, Scarborough and works as Learning Assistant for Scarborough Museums Trust. She read for a History of Art BA at the Courtauld Institute of Art, followed by an MA in Drawing at Norwich University College of Arts.

Holly Hyams has worked and volunteered at a number of museums in London and Yorkshire, including the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising, the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Whitby Museum and York Castle Museum. She loves living on the North Yorkshire Coast and is currently Learning Manager at Scarborough Museums Trust.


Thanks, Holly and Jade!

If you’re reading this and would like to write a guest post for the arts and heritage sector about any aspect of event programming, audience development or marketing, please email

Guest post: Sue Grayson Ford explains how to take part in The Big Draw

If you enjoyed running an event for the Museums at Night festival, your organisation may like to be part of another national festival as well! Today’s guest post comes from Sue Grayson Ford, Director of the Campaign for Drawing, who explains what The Big Draw is all about and how you can get involved.


The Big Draw: the largest drawing festival anywhere!

Starting life as a one-day event, The Big Draw is now in its 14th year and lasts throughout the month of October. It involves all of the UK and 15 other countries so far, and every year some 200,000 people of all ages participate. This makes it the largest drawing festival anywhere, yet it is run by just three people – who reach exhaustion every 31 October!

A blurred image of a group of people drawing on walls covered with white paper

Why we do it

The Campaign for Drawing is fuelled by the belief that everyone can draw, and that drawing helps us think, invent and communicate.  It is the most effective and economical interactive tool for learning in galleries, museums, heritage sites and elsewhere.  Drawing animates museums, opens gallery doors, reaches out to new audiences and changes lives.

The best drawing activities are simple, relevant to their environment, connect to artefacts or current displays, and offer new ways to see and interpret.

How we help Big Draw event organisers

Our new mini-magazines are packed with event-planning and marketing suggestions, and help you find ideas for pushing boundaries, family friendly activities, working with young organisers and keeping it simple and easy.

young men holding up drawings

We offer CPD, free resources, publications and case studies of successful events to make drawing accessible.  And this works – I am constantly amazed by the imagination Big Draw organisers use to overcome all barriers, and to engage the least likely suspects.

We also promote The Big Draw through press, digital marketing, FacebookTwitterPinterest and The Big Draw Blog.

Creative event ideas

As a lifelong football fan, I was excited when the Colchester gallery Firstsite partnered with Colchester United for The Big Draw, to show supporters how drawing is used to plan and analyse the game. The junior squad demonstrated the artistry of passing the ball with tape glued to their footballs, while match programmes were printed with a blank page for spectators to sketch impressions. 

At London’s Zabludowicz Collection, workshop participants were inspired by flamboyant dancers and improvised music.  By focusing on rhythm, movement, enjoyment and experiment – rather than finished artwork – drawing came easily.

A hula-hoop dancer performing in a gallery

A hula-hoop dancer inspiring artists at a drawing workshop (c) Campaign for Drawing

At the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, one million colour-selected adhesive spots were laid on transparent plastic on the gallery windows, creating 3-D illusions of atoms forming functionalised molecules, such as crystalline structures and graphene.  Nobel Prize-winner Kostya Novoselov, who actually discovered grapheme, brought his young family to join in the fun!

Two toddlers covering a window with colourful spotty stickers

Children joining the dots at Manchester Art Gallery (c) Campaign for Drawing

Science and technology can also connect people with their hidden creativity: at Tate Liverpool, artist Tony Hall encouraged families to construct ‘brush bots’ – tiny robots which drew as they moved.

Rewarding organisers

All these events received Drawing Inspiration Awards, which reward twelve organisers of each year’s most innovative Big Draws with up to £1000 each.

Draw Tomorrow in 2013

Who knows what our suggested 2013 theme Draw Tomorrow will bring?  The Elgar Birthplace Museum will invite visitors to draw musical instruments for 3013; Manchester Museum will create a rainforest of the future, and young visitors at the V&A Museum of Childhood will art-direct top Central Illustration Agency artists.

A father and daughter drawing on the floor of a gallery

Sign up NOW!

Register your event  here by 1 September for inclusion in our press campaign, and help us demonstrate the power of drawing to connect and engage audiences.

If you’d like more information we’re here to help: please contact, or call 020 8351 1719.


A woman in the sunshineSue Grayson Ford is Director of the Campaign for Drawing. She says:

My proudest previous achievements were founding the Serpentine Gallery (aged 22), running the Wakefield Centenary Festival, putting sculpture into the first International Liverpool Garden Festival and public art into Cardiff Bay, directing the Photographers’ Gallery, and chairing engage.

More feedback from Museums at Night 2013

Artwork with silver song lyrics on wood

‘Song (Be Bop)’, 2013, Silver leaf on wood (c) Susan Forsyth. Part of a new series of works by Connect10 artist and Zusammen choir leader Susan Forsyth, inspired by commemoration and song

We’re loving finding out more about how Museums at Night 2013 went for all the participating venues, visitors and participating artists, and we’re currently looking at responses to our venue and visitor surveys. Here’s some of the feedback we’ve received.

One reflective quote recorded before the event at Scunthorpe’s 20-21 Visual Arts Centre conveys the excitement behind the scenes of their very unusual conceptual art happening, created by artists Cullinan Richards:

It’s brilliant how everyone has come together on this from an initial idea. Most of the boxing club have never visited us before or are even interested in art and none of us knew much about boxing rings but are now learning fast as well as the history of disco lighting. It’s a bizarre collision of worlds!

The crashed cars are still happening as well and will be a nice statement piece before you enter the building.

And these are some of the most extraordinary risk assessments I’ve ever done.

This is a great photo story from the British Postal Heritage Museum Store.

Blogger Crumbolina had never managed to visit Bristol’s SS Great Britain before … until their Museums at Night event

The Beast in the Cellar: Benjamin D. Brooks shares the talk he gave about paleontologist Mary Anning at Lyme Regis Museum’s after-hours event.

A group of young people smiling in front of paintings

Art students at Corinium Museum after hours (c) Corinium Museum

Corinium Museum was “invaded” with contemporary art by University of the West of England students, and reported:

We were really thrilled with the response from visitors. Even when a piece wasn’t to their taste, it sparked comment and conversation. A number of visitors said the new look to galleries made them look at the collections in a different and more focussed way and caused them to notice objects they hadn’t seen before.

Emily Beeson, Culture24 intern and editor of Young Gold Teeth, wrote about getting hands-on making her own artworks as part of the National Portrait Gallery‘s Edgar Heap of Birds Museums at Night late opening. 

Blogger Sarah gave 10/10 to the experience of watching ‘Goodbye Lenin‘ in the unusual setting of York’s Cold War Bunker.

And finally, Gladstone Pottery Museum‘s night of music and spoken word poetry in their historic kilns come to life in this video:

If you have photos or stories to share from a Museums at Night event, please send them across to