Tag Archives: advice

Museums at Night collaborates with Adult Learners Week

Once again, the Museums at Night May festival (13-16 May 2015) overlaps with the Adult Learners’ Week Festival of Learning, which runs throughout May and June 2015, and we’ll be cross-promoting each other’s events as usual. So why not consider including an educational element when planning your Museums at Night event?

Adult Learners Week logo

The Adult Learners’ Week Campaigns Team explains more:

When we’re young, learning is everywhere. From schools and colleges to after school-clubs and the home, it’s obvious where we can improve our skills and abilities. As we get older, many of us want to continue this journey but we’re often unaware of the variety of learning opportunities that are available to us.

Lots of museums and galleries are already engaging thousands of adults in learning and developing their skills. For those who have not yet jumped on the bandwagon, there’s never been a better time to come aboard.

A drawing class

Drawing at Barking and Dagenham College (c) Caters Photography

Museums at Night is partnering with the Festival of Learning, led by the National Institute for Continuing Adult Education (NIACE), which brings together a range of events and activities taking place throughout May and June 2015.

The Festival of Learning is a prime opportunity for museums, galleries and heritage sites to run events which can educate, inform and raise awareness in the adult learning community.

There are many ways in which the cultural sector can engage adult learners this spring: here are some ideas!

1) Invite expert speakers

Adults are often keen to hear from experts in a particular field. Utilise the breadth of contacts at your fingertips, such as local artists, academics and curators, to provide adults with an intricate background to exhibits and engagement with the wider community.

Two women folding origami

Origami workshop at City Link (c) Caters Photography

2) Link exhibitions to building new, transferable skills

Whether it’s photography classes in a local gallery, or a sewing school in a textile exhibition, museums provide an engaging backdrop to learning new skills that help participants progress both personally and professionally. This kind of initiative is also a simple way to engage and form partnerships with local educators, further widening the reach of your institution and opening the doors to new audiences.

3) Facilitate interaction and creativity

Often with full-time jobs and families, adult learners’ time is precious so it’s important that classes are stimulating without being too heavy-going. Avoid long lectures and opt for more group discussions, practical tasks and problem-solving games.

People making millinery trimmings out of feathers

Learning millinery, the art of trimming hats, at the National Portrait Gallery (c) Positive Negatives Photography

Adult learning is an opportunity for museums to engage anyone and everyone, from learners to schools and beyond. The Festival of Learning showcases just how many organisations are joining the adult learning mission and is a fantastic opportunity to have a go, even if it’s just an evening class or a late night tour.

Next steps

You can upload your May and June Festival of Learning events to the free online events diary at http://www.alw.org.uk/events.

For more information, you can connect with Adult Learners Week on Facebook (www.facebook.com/niaceadultlearnersweek), follow @NIACEhq on Twitter and look out for the hashtag #ALW.

Museums at Night 2015 PR deadlines

Throughout the campaign leading up to the Museums at Night festival in May, we issue several publicity deadlines for you to register your event listing in our database and send us your publicity photos.

Here are all the publicity deadlines for the May festival:

PR-deadlines-2015

If you can register your event listing by Friday 13 February, it will be included in all of our PR pushes.

The second deadline is Friday 20th March: if you register your event listing by this date, it will appear in our March outreach.

The final deadline to take advantage of Culture24’s PR for the festival is Friday 24th April.

Our system allows you to register events right up until the festival itself, but we strongly recommend that you aim to meet one of these deadlines so your venue and event can be part of the festival publicity campaign.

Here’s how to register your Museums at Night event.

An old library lit up at night

Gladstone’s Library at night: PR helps attract visitors to fill up your venue after hours!

Finally, we’re working on a new Museums at Night website for this year which will have much more of a focus on pictures. When you register your event in the database, do upload an image to help it stand out.

We’re already getting approached by media outlets wanting to feature the festival, who are looking for attractive photos of people in museum and galleries after hours. So please email us your high-res publicity photos, along with the copyright info and photographer’s credit!

Museums at Night 2015 first publicity deadline: register your events by Friday 13 February!

Thank you to everyone who’s got in touch asking about how to register events for the Museums at Night festival!

Here’s our resource explaining how to use Culture24’s DDE database to register your Museums at Night 2015 event: https://museumsatnight.wordpress.com/how-to-register-your-museums-at-night-event/

Our first PR deadline is Friday 13 February 2015. If you register your event listing in our database by 5pm on  this date, it will appear in our themed press releases going out to long-lead glossy magazines.

What else can you do to help us get you publicity? Send us your photos!

We’re looking for high-resolution photos showing members of your target audience having a good time in your venue – perhaps doing a hands-on activity, holding objects, or in costume, if it’s a costumed event!

Running a photo-shoot

If you’ll be offering a certain activity or food and you don’t have decent photos to illustrate it, it’s absolutely fine to stage a photo-shoot, as the Museum of Farnham did recently so they had a suite of images to use to raise awareness of their Museums at Night sleepover.

If your event is aimed at families, you’ll want to get some photos with children of your target age group: make sure you have their parents’ permission.

A group of children lying on a museum floor with sleeping bags and torches

Children posing with sleeping bags at the Museum of Farnham ahead of their sleepover. Picture courtesy Bryan Sewell.

On the other hand, if your event will offer sophisticated cocktails and live music, show people enjoying them amid your objects. Have you run a similar event in the past? Look through your pictures – and any people shared on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook on the night – and see if any would be good to use for publicity now.

Having great photos can make the difference between a tiny news nib in your local paper, and attracting a half-page feature. So please, don’t delay: register your events and send us your photos today!

Team Museums at Night on the road again: join our free briefing sessions!

Interested in taking part in the Museums at Night festival and/or entering the Connect! competition to develop a participatory event with a contemporary artist?

We’re delighted to announce our second series of free, friendly Museums at Night / Connect! regional workshops in early February 2015, following our successful roadshows in London, the Midlands and Yorkshire in 2013.

In February we’ll be travelling to three different regions: the South West (Bristol), East of England (Cambridge) and North West (Manchester).

A group of Men In Black dancers parade through a town centre

The circus is coming! This isn’t Team Museums at Night – it’s artist Jessica Voorsanger leading a sci-fi parade through Scunthorpe for the 2014 festival. Find out how she did it at our workshops!

Who are these workshops for?

These afternoon workshops are completely free to attend, and are open to anybody interested in taking part in Museums at Night in 2015 and beyond. Museums at Night is Culture24’s annual after-hours festival showcasing the arts and heritage sector, which each year offers a great audience development opportunity.

Whether you’re a staff member or volunteer, MDO or Town Centre Manager; based in a museum, gallery, library, archive or heritage site; and whether your organisation has never taken part in the festival before or has frequently run events, but would like more inspiration or the chance to form a local cluster; you’ll find something of interest.

What is the Connect! competition?

Formerly known as Connect10, Connect! is the competition giving venues the chance to win a participatory artist-led Museums at Night event and a £3,000 bursary. Some aspects of the competition are changing in 2015, so please come along to find out more.

What can you expect?

You’ll find out about the benefits and challenges involved in hosting an after-hours event, what it takes to be a Connect! winner, and what it’s like to host a top artist from the people who have done it before.

Take advantage of this unique opportunity to hear first-hand from a Connect10 artist, who will share their experience of developing a successful participatory event, and tips for venues interested in working with artists.

You’ll learn how to organise a local cluster of venues to take part in the festival, plus there will be plenty of opportunities to meet and chat with colleagues from your region.

Event timings:

Doors open at 1pm for tea and coffee, each event kicks off at 1:30 and will finish at 4:30pm. We can’t offer lunch, but hot drinks will be available.

Event and booking details:

East of England: Monday 2nd February, Scott Polar Museum, Cambridge

Speakers include:

  • A cluster coordinatorLaura Crossley, Heritage and Audience Development consultant who has successfully bid for funding and set up several Museums at Night clusters in North Norfolk
  • A Connect10 venue: Suzannah Bedford, who led the Renewal Trust’s campaign to bring top photographer Rankin to St Ann’s Allotments in Nottingham for Museums at Night
  • A Connect10 artist: Kelvyn Smith of Mr Smith’s Letterpress Workshop, who devised a unique letterpress printing experience at Walthamstow’s William Morris Gallery, taking inspiration from Morris’ writings and the venue’s collections

North West: Thursday 5 February, Manchester Central Library

Speakers include:

  • A cluster coordinator: Christina Grogan, who has grown Liverpool’s Light Night into an unmissable city culture crawl
  • A Museums at Night venue: Damon Waldock, who has successfully developed Yorkshire Sculpture Park‘s Museums at Night events over several years
  • A Connect10 artist: Janette Parris, who brought in fellow artists and performers to copy and re-present Cardiff Story Museum, and even wrote songs inspired by their collection objects

South West: Wednesday 11 February, M Shed, Bristol

Speakers include:

  • A cluster coordinator: Elaine Lees from Creativity Works, who successfully brought venues together from towns and villages across Pennine Lancashire in the Festival of Wonders cluster
  • A Connect10 venue: Lucie Connors, who led Cardiff Story Museum‘s campaign to bring contemporary artist Janette Parris to re-make and perform in their exhibitions for Museums at Night
  • A Connect10 artist: Jessica Voorsanger, who led a parade through Scunthorpe culminating in sci-fi themed art interventions that transformed the 20-21 Visual Arts Centre

Don’t miss out – book your free place today!

These briefings are supported by Arts Council England lottery funding.

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Intro to Culture24 and Museums at Night!

I’ve been lucky enough to travel to various heritage sector events over the last 6 weeks, talking about Culture24 and Museums at Night. I wanted to share the resources and a helpful introductory presentation here, so you can see the sort of information I give out and download the handouts for yourself.

Museums Norfolk Development Day: Using events to engage visitors and generate income 

I introduced Culture24’s various services and some of our current initiatives with this one-page Culture24 contact handout.

I explained how museums can get started using Culture24’s DDE database to showcase events and exhibitions, with this one-page introduction to Culture24’s DDE.

Finally, I discussed how even the smallest heritage venues could successfully take part in Museums at Night and attract publicity in a mini-marketing masterclass.

 

SHOWCASE: South East Museum Development conference

A woman smiling on a stand with handouts

Rosie at Brooklands Museum, image courtesy Scott Ramsey Photography

I took part in this fascinating day at historic Brooklands Museum, talking about how museums could take advantage of Culture24’s services, and run successful events for Museums at Night. I was really pleased to meet so many people in person who read my newsletters, and who I’d only had email contact with before!

Museomix

I also took part in the brilliant three-day Museomix hackathon at Derby Silk Mill and Derby Museum & Art Gallery – here are the terrific remixed collection objects the 7 teams developed over the weekend: http://www.museomix.org/en/localisation/derby-2014/#prototypes

As Community Manager I welcomed people who were new to the heritage hackathon experience. I created new content, sourcing stories and interviewing museum staff to provide features for the MuseomixUK Tumblr; helped the teams to post images and thoughts to their own Tumblrs; highlighted interesting digital content from others; and helped with idea generation and prototype development – I’d recommend the experience to anyone!

Guest Post: Museum Alive brings mannequin drama to Chippenham Museum!

Our latest guest post comes from Melissa Barnett of Chippenham Museum, who explains how she involved a drama group in bringing the museum’s mannequins to life for Museums at Night.

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Any activity organised for Museums at Night has to be fun, should attract new audiences and should show off our collections to the best advantage.  This we did in bucket loads and we are still receiving the benefits.

The idea – and the challenge

We decided we wanted to take part in the festival at a late stage. We have no history of after-hours opening, however, and our town is quite deserted at nights. However, we wanted to get involved, so we thought we’d try something inexpensive and simple to organise and see how it turned out.

A group of children in a room with a large map

Children exploring Chippenham Museum (c) D & D Carrington Photographers

We knew that if we wanted to encourage visitors to make a special journey, something out of the ordinary was needed. However, our collections don’t include scary dinosaurs or mysterious mummies to tempt a trembling populace through our doors. So, building on the idea from the film Night at the Museum, we decided that our mannequins should come alive for the night!

a medieval woman with a basket

Is she a mannequin, or a medieval philanthropist waiting to come to life? (c) D & D Carrington Photographers

Who is the audience?

As a small community museum, most of our visitors are returning families with primary school aged children. We decided that the best time to start our activity would be at 4.00 pm, after the museum closed but before tea and bedtime.

What we did

For maximum effect, we decided that our museum should be dark and that there should be an element of surprise.

We also wanted to make our activity not only fun, but also an educational experience. So each mannequin told their story in their own words. We chose real characters from our local history – a suffragette, a First World War soldier, an engineer and a medieval philanthropist.

A suffragette and banner

A suffragette with a banner tells her story (c) D & D Carrington Photographers

How we did it

We contacted a local community drama group,  Rag & Bone Arts, who agreed to act the parts for us. The museum supplied a short script for each character and provided costumes from our education store.

Having gained some confidence, we became bolder and perhaps a little carried away and decided that as we had suitable costumes, the staff and Friends groups could also get involved, acting as general characters such as a school teacher or a cook. Some of the actors’ children also wanted to get involved and dressed up as Victorian schoolchildren!

A Victorian Schoolroom

Schoolmistress and schoolchildren in the Victorian classroom (c) D & D Carrington Photographers

Museum Alive was the obvious event title: we made a poster in-house and circulated news of the event through social media.

Museums Alive poster

On the Night

We turned off the museum lights and blacked out the windows as the actors went to stand like mannequins in their correct setting: the cook in the Victorian kitchen, the suffragette next to her banner, the engineer near the railway exhibit. They posed as though they were mannequins – motionless.

Visitors were provided with a “special” torch and told to shine the torch on the mannequins as they explored the museum. The mannequins would then come alive, tell their story, then once again become completely inactive.

A group of children shining torches in a dark museum

Children in the museum shining their special torches (c) D & D Carrington Photographers

The trained actors were superb, word perfect and gloriously scary, but the museum staff almost stole the show with their unscripted performances. The cook in the kitchen wielded her meat chopper in such a menacing way that even grown-up visitors jumped!

A costumed cook in a historical kichen

The cook in the kitchen (c) D & D Carrington Photographers

The Results

The night was a tremendous success. The museum really came alive and everyone had a thoroughly enjoyable evening. For the museum, a significant benefit was the new partnership with Rag and Bone Arts Group, who now use the Museum for some of their performances.

We are looking forward to repeating the event in future, with more time for forward planning and extra publicity.

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A woman smilingMelissa Barnett is Curator of Chippenham Museum and Heritage Centre, which has a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ChippenhamMuseum. Melissa gained a degree in Archaeology and has worked as Curator of Welshpool and Banbury Museums, and Museums Officer for South Gloucestershire Council. She has always enjoyed working with community groups, and relishes her role in Chippenham where the museum is a thriving and popular hub for the town.

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Thanks, Melissa!

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.

Case study: How Wardown Park Museum attracted over 1000% more visitors than usual

Our latest case study guest post comes from Ellen Waghorn, Event Programmer at Wardown Park Museum in Luton.

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Wardown Park Museum took part in Museums at Night 2014 aiming to engage with new audiences and find new ways to use our spaces. We are a small museum with a collection relating to the history of Luton including Luton’s role in the hat-making industry past and present.

Two men wearing fancy hats and drinking beer in a museum after hours

Visitors show off their hats (c) Wardown Park Museum

We decided to separate our day and night events to focus on family and adult audiences.

‘Mad Hatters and Alice in Wonderland’, our daytime event, created something fun but educational that linked to our collection. We used outside space to increase capacity and had flamingo croquet and a rabbit hole crawl. We provided seating and catering bringing in secondary spend.

Inside the museum we created a trail (also charged), that focused on engaging children with our collections. Additionally, one of our volunteers ran an exhibition that  looked at the origin of tea and the history of plants in Bedfordshire, using our collection of plant specimens.

‘Mad Hatters Late’  consisted of  keeping the museum open until  10pm, and  performances  from local musicians, held in a flexible gallery space. To maximise secondary spend, we acquired a temporary alcohol license, and to tie in with our collections everyone was encouraged to wear hats!

a shot from behind showing the heads of audience members watching a band perform

Museum visitors listening to a band (c) Wardown Park Museum

Success

Attendance of the events exceeded expectations with 1027 people on site for the daytime event and 107 in the evening. 953 people came through the doors to the museum on the day.

Comparing this to a normal Saturday which averages at 80, this was a fantastic 1091.25% increase.

We learnt…

1) …not to be afraid of ‘set dressing’ our museum. Far from taking away from our collections, it enabled  more enjoyment, and made  our audiences  think of us as a fun place to visit. Museums are not dull: they’re a good place to have fun!

2) Advertising was key to this event. We used local radio, flyer and poster distribution as well as social media platforms and our website.

3) Using arts as an activity to entice a new audience works. We have been trialing this through ‘Music in the Museum’, a monthly music concert, and the decision to include story telling and a concert was due to the success of this.

A museum entrance hall with visitors and hats on the floor

A range of hats were available for visitors to wear (c) Wardown Park Museum

In future…

…we plan to have less separation between our day and evening events, although we will continue to target our activities for families during the day and adults in the evening. We will continue to increase the opportunities for secondary spend to support the programme and increase financial viability.

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A photo of a woman smilingEllen Waghorn is the event programmer for the Museum Makers Team at Wardown Park Museum. Her aim is to programme events and activities that actively engage the community and encourages the incorporation of volunteers (Museum Makers) into event running and organisation.

Find her on Twitter as @elwaghorn and on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/ellen-waghorn/63/70a/1a4

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Thanks, Ellen!

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.