Monthly Archives: January 2014

Guest post: Science Communication Officer Nicola Frost on creating an interactive family lecture

Ever considered how your organisation could bring science concepts to life for young audiences? Our latest guest post is a case study about doing exactly that, by Nicola Frost, Science Communication Officer at the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Infection and Global Health.

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Rudolph the Sneezing Reindeer

Early last year I was chatting to a scientist from our Institute who told me about an idea that had been bouncing around his head for a while, but he’d never yet made happen. The idea was simple; an interactive Christmas lecture aimed at young children to engage them in the science of germs and infectious disease. Over a coffee, we threw around some ideas and a plan was formed!

Children and a person in a reindeer suit playing with playdough

Rudolph helps demonstrate how quickly bacteria can reproduce using play dough. (c) Tom Solomon / IGH

Finding a venue

I decided to approach the Education Officer at the University’s Victoria Gallery and Museum (VG&M) as a potential venue. We had never worked with the VG&M before, however as a cultural asset of the University, with an established family-friendly public programme, it made perfect sense to see if there was any synergy in what we were both trying to achieve.

Thankfully there was, and the VG&M was happy to provide us with a venue and include us as part of their festive programme.

Children gathered around tables doing craft activities

Science craft session in full swing (c) Nicola Frost / IGH

Building the team

With a venue and date confirmed, I pulled together a team of volunteers from the Institute, including PhD students and researchers interested in developing their public engagement skills, to help Dr Alan Radford turn his idea into reality.

We helped input ideas for the lecture, provided critique, developed a craft session to run before the lecture, and provided people power on the day.

A group of people wearing reindeer antlers around Santa

Team photo (c) Kate Hall / Victoria Gallery & Museum

Stretching the budget

Ensuring that our programme of outreach events is properly funded is an important part of my job, and I work with scientists to help them secure public engagement grants from various societies and organisations. Even so, a small amount of money usually needs go a long way so you need to be a bit creative with your ideas.

In this case we actually managed to borrow a few key items, including a microscope that could be hooked up to a projection screen, and a life-sized anatomical model of a torso!

We had a small budget to cover material costs and marketing. From this we had some design done for promotional materials, including a flyer, poster and webpage.

Reaching our target audience

A key target market for us was primary school pupils, so I worked with the University’s Educational Opportunities Department and MerseySTEM who helped promote the event to local schools. The VG&M also advertised the event as part of their ‘What’s On’ guide which was a huge help.

We also used social media, and the local radio station, which are both really useful (and free!) tools.

A successful event

After a lot of hard work from everyone involved, the event went really well, with highlights including children from the audience unravelling 40 toilet rolls at once to help them visualise the size of viruses (messy but fun!) and appearances from Santa Claus and Rudolph.

A group of children attempting to pull of one of Father Christmas' boots.

Dr Alan Radford and helpers from the audience try to remove Santa’s boots to investigate the bacteria that make smell (c) Tom Solomon / IGH

We had a turn-out of over 75 people for the lecture, which both we and the VG&M were really pleased with. The formal feedback we received has also been really positive and we will use this to evaluate the success of the event and to decide whether we will something similar again next year!

Top tips for public engagement events:

  1. Be clear on your aims and objectives – what exactly to you want to achieve and why? How will you measure whether you’ve been successful?
  2. Know your audience – be clear who you are aiming your event at and ensure the content is targeted appropriately.
  3. Work in partnership – this would have been a lot harder to do without support from the VG&M and others.
  4. Make your budget work as hard as possible for you – try and borrow items that you are unlikely to use again in the future, and shop around for good deals on consumable items!

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A woman in a black t shirt smilingNicola Frost is the science communication and public engagement officer for the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Infection and Global Health. She has a degree in biological sciences from the University of Oxford and previously worked for the Museum of Science and Industry and the Manchester Science Festival.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/IGHLiverpool
Twitter: @IGHLiverpool

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Thanks, Nicola!

If you’d like to write a guest post or share a case study about any aspect of audience development, event planning or marketing in the arts and heritage sector, please email rosie@culture24.org.uk.

More authors available for your Museums at Night events!

Thanks for your feedback on the list of children’s authors we shared in November – at least eight venues have now been matched up with writers who’ll be giving readings as part of their Museums at Night events.

Book cover

We’re pleased to share an updated list of authors available for your Museums at Night 2014 events: some write for children, some for young adults and some for adults.

The list includes authors who focus on a range of subjects which could tie in with your venue’s collections, such as Victorian Gothic novelist Essie Fox, World War I writer Louisa Young, and Viking fantasy writer Snorri Kristjansson.

You can download the latest list of authors willing to speak at Museums at Night events here.

If you are interested in a particular author, double check their restrictions – some are only able to go to venues within a certain geographical area, most have specified the age groups their books are intended for, and many have set the minimum or maximum number of people they prefer to come and perform for.

Be aware that all events featuring these authors will usually end with a sale of their books, and in many cases a book signing session for visitors – do you have the space and staffing capacity to deliver this successfully?

Read our case study on delivering a successful author event to gain more of an idea about how this can work.

Your next step

If you’d like to invite one of our latest list of authors to your venue for Museums at Night, please call Nick or Rosie on 01273 623336.

First marketing and PR deadline is 31 January

It’s an exciting time here at C24 Towers now that the Connect10 voting period has opened – the amazing outreach that participating venues are doing to reach new audiences is really paying off.

  • In 2012, over 20,000 votes were cast during 3 weeks.
  • In 2013, over 30,000 public votes were cast during 2 weeks.
  • So far this year, over 40,000 public votes have been cast – and the polls have only been open for 10 days!

If you want your voice to be heard in deciding where our ten artists will go to lead Museums at Night events, voting is open here until 5pm on Tuesday 28 January.

A crowd of women gather together

PR makes a massive difference in attracting audiences: a large crowd gathers for a Janette Parris performance (c) Janette Parris

Publicity for your venue

If you’re looking at the publicity and media coverage that the Connect10 venues are receiving, you may be wondering how you can maximise the amount of PR that you’ll get if you run a Museums at Night event.

Our first PR deadline to register your events by is Friday 31 January.

Not sure how to register? Here’s a step-by-step guide explaining how to check whether your venue is listed on Culture24’s database, and how to upload your Museums at Night event listing.

We’re planning our event, but we’re not ready to register final details yet!

Pandora George and the team at Bullet PR are keen to hear from museums and galleries about their plans for Museums at Night 2014. They’re sending out a press release to monthly media in early February, so are very keen to hear what you’re planning – even it it is just an outline – by 31st January for inclusion in the first general release.

Pandora says:

We are particularly interested in events that are quirky, fun and unexpected – the kind of things that don’t normally go on at your venue.

We also compile press releases according to themes, for example –  “the best Museums at Night events for music/garden/art lovers” – so again, if you have any suggestions, let us know.

Finally, are also always looking for really strong press images to accompany your event. The best images will be included in our image library.  Please email any suggestions or images to pandora@bulletpr.co.uk.

We look forward to working with you all and making Museums at Night 2014 the best festival yet!

VanGoYourself – recreate artworks with your friends for Museums at Night!

UPDATE, MAY 2014: VanGoYourself is live and you can play it now! Just go to www.vangoyourself.com.

Read on for the background story!

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Today, Wednesday January 22nd, is Museum Selfie Day using the #MuseumSelfie hashtag on Twitter – so what better day to share the news of Culture24’s exciting new online participation idea? (Warning – this idea is really good fun!)

So what’s the idea?

‘VanGoYourself’ (working title) offers venues an opportunity to directly engage visitors with their paintings in playful ways.

Van Go Yourself logo

This responsive website, which is currently being developed, is aimed at museum and gallery visitors who are tired of just looking at paintings, and like the idea of getting inside them instead. Its inherent sociability, playfulness and photographic output also support the behaviour of a group of friends out for an evening together.

Via the website, people choose from a selection of paintings and pick one that they would like to recreate as a photograph with their friends.

They then upload and share their photograph, twinned with the original painting, for others to enjoy.

They can decide how ambitious they feel, then choose to recreate an easy, medium or hard painting from a selection of classics (including paintings from your collection).

The service will be free and simple to use, and will link up to existing digital channels that users already engage with such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram.

How ‘VanGoYourself’ can be part of your Museums at Night event

Do you have one or more paintings featuring people (one person to larger groups is fine) that would be suitable for visitors to recreate – perhaps featuring a famous historical figure or a dramatic scene?

A group of people posed as if in a copy of a painting

A VanGoYourself recreation of Rembrandt’s Night Watch. Night Watch recreated by Kennisland and licensed under CC BY 2.0

You will need to choose paintings that are already digitised, and are outside of any copyright restrictions, so that they can be added to the ‘VanGoYourself’ responsive website and shared widely.

Is there space in your museum or gallery to set up a “recreation station”? This could involve a rack or box of costume pieces and props such as hats, plastic swords, capes or toys similar to those that appear in the artwork.

Ideally, groups of people who come through the gallery should be able to look at the original painting to copy their poses, while their photograph is taken.

It will also help if your venue offers wifi to visitors!

Interested?

‘VanGoYourself ’ is currently being developed by Culture24 as part of Europeana Creative, and will be ready in time for Museums at Night in May.

For more information, and to discuss how this opportunity might work in your venue, please contact Nick Stockman on 01273 623278.

Bands for Museums at Night 2014: Electric Soft Parade and Abi Wade

We’re pleased to be able to offer two musical options for Museums at Night 2014: would your museum or gallery like to host a gig from Electric Soft Parade or Abi Wade?

The Electric Soft Parade

Two men in suit jackets

The Electric Soft Parade

Following the 10 year anniversary of Mercury Music Prize nominated debut album ‘Holes in the Wall’ and a European tour with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds in 2012, The Electric Soft Parade recorded for the first time in six years and emerged with what is arguably their best album to date, IDIOTS. The band quickly started to reconnect with fans of old, doing sessions for Marc Riley, getting single of the week & album of the day on BBC Radio 6 Music and receiving rave reviews across the board for the new album.

The Electric Soft Parade are a 5 piece band and are happy to travel anywhere in the UK.

Download more information about the Electric Soft Parade (2 page Word document)

Abi Wade

A woman with long hair and a cello

Abi Wade

Abi Wade is a musical collaboration between limbs, strings and vocal chords. The cello is the backbone to her songs, however, the Brighton based musician is no ordinary solo act and uses her instrument in a unique way; using it as a percussive instrument; hitting it with sticks and beaters while plucking and bowing it, often simultaneously. In addition to playing the cello in this unconventional manner, she also sings and uses a cajon and tambourine on each foot to become the ultimate one woman band.

Abi performs solo, and is happy to travel anywhere in the South East or around Cambridge.

If your venue can provide a piano, that would be helpful but not essential.

Download more information about Abi Wade (2 page Word document)

Your next step

If you’re interested in booking either Electric Soft Parade or Abi Wade for your Museums at Night event, please contact Nick Stockman on 01273 623278.

Welsh and bilingual Museums at Night logos

We’re delighted to share with you Welsh and Welsh/English versions of the Museums at Night logo, courtesy of CyMAL: Museums, Archives and Libraries Wales, and our design agency Crush.

Museums at Night bilingual logo

Now, in addition to our range of English language Museums at Night logos, which you can access from our Resources for Venues page, we have a range of bilingual logos and Welsh logos, all available as JPEG, EPS and PNG files.

Bilingual Museums at Night logo white on black

 

You can download a zip file of all of the Welsh logos here (1.8MB), or select individual logos to download on our Resources for Venues page. 

amgueddfeydd yn y nos logo

 

We hope these new logos make it much easier for any venues running Museums at Night / Amgueddfeydd yn y Nos events to promote and publicise them!

Guest post: Liha Okunniwa on The Wilson’s outreach to young people

Ever thought about setting up a Young People Group at your museum or gallery to help you diversify your audiences? Today’s guest blog post comes from Liha Okunniwa, who did just that at The Wilson, Cheltenham’s Art Gallery & Museum.  

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Museums often find working with young people challenging and see them as a ‘hard to reach audience.’ The idea of setting up a young persons group is something that is seen by many as a daunting prospect. However, once you take the leap, the benefits in terms of audience development and young people acting as ambassadors are myriad.

Here are three simple tips if your institution is thinking about setting up a Young Persons Group:

1. Realise that you are hard to reach for them and not the other way round. Once you start seeing things from a different perspective you may find that there are things you have missed.

What can you do to make them young people feel more comfortable and reassure them that they are welcome? How can you make them realise they don’t need to know lots about art to enjoy your building?

2. Go where they are: When I was recruiting members for The Wilson Collective, I found events where young people were, and planned tailor-made activities for those events rather than waiting for them to come to me. I designed a “design a deck skate” activity / contest for the local skate park and a sleeve-face activity for a local music festival.

3. Diversify: Think of other events that you could hold in your Museum spaces.

Are there local groups of young people who need to rehearse for drama, music or a play? Do you have a space they could use? If so, somewhere_to from the Arts council is a great initiative. All you have to do is sign up at http://somewhereto.com/ and wait for the enquiries to come in. Once the young people have had fun and discovered your building, get them to sign up!

Two teenagers playing a guitar

Musicians Shaquille Douglas, aka @Alluzeion, and
Shawn Wheatley aka Chiggy, at the Wilson
(c) Simon de Knock

For Museums at Night, our young people’s group the Wilson Collective are planning an open mic evening that will fill a gap in Gloucestershire’s arts provision for young upcoming musicians.

This event will give them a platform and a chance to meet other local musicians to jam with. It will also be recorded and broadcast on YouTube, providing a vital resource for the young musicians to further their careers. The event will be marketed by The Wilson Collective ambassadors, word of mouth and social media.

We’re also part of the Museums at Night Connect10 competition: we’re hoping to win Fred Deakin from Lemon Jelly to bring in a wider audience and kickstart what we hope will be the first of many music events at The Wilson.

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A woman in a denim jacket smilingLiha Okunniwa has been Outreach Officer at The Wilson for four years. She is focusing on Audience Development and programming for The Wilson’s dedicated young person’s space, 51. Follow them on Twitter: @thewilsonchelt

Liha is also Creative Director of Bookish Design, an art publishing business that promotes classic literature.