Tag Archives: city events

Team Museums at Night on the road: join our Connect10 briefings!

Nick and I are delighted to announce that we’re going on the road this September! We’ll be delivering three free briefing sessions sharing our learning from the Connect10 competition, alongside people from venues who have actually won and worked together with Connect10 artists.

A man and woman looking exceptionally professional

Stockman and Clarke – travelling the land spreading the word about Museums at Night

Are you interested in taking part in the Museums at Night festival and/or entering the Connect10 competition next year? Come along to our free, friendly morning briefing sessions: they’re for anyone working in a museum, gallery, historic house or other cultural institution, whether or not you’ve run a Museums at Night event before.

Museums at Night is the annual after-hours festival showcasing the arts and heritage sector, which each year offers great audience development opportunities. Connect10 is the competition that gives ten venues the chance to win an artist-led event and £2,000 as part of the festival.

Find out about the benefits and challenges involved in hosting an after-hours event, the advantages in working together with other venues and what it takes to be a Connect10 winner!

Learn how to organise a group of venues to take part in the festival, and what it’s like to host a top artist from the people who have done it before! Plus there will be plenty of opportunities to meet and chat with colleagues from your region.

We’re grateful to the Arts Council for subsidising the cost of these briefings, so they will be free to attend. There are 45 places available on each day, and we hope to welcome as many people as possible to the South, Midlands and North.

The three sessions are:

LONDON: Monday 23 September, at the Jewish Museum, 9:45 – 13:00

BIRMINGHAM: Thursday 26 September, at Winterbourne House, 9:45 – 13:00

BRADFORD: Friday 27 September, at the National Media Museum, 9:45 – 13:00

Click through to book your place! We look forward to meeting you.

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 rosie@culture24.org.uk.

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: Lottie Muir describes the Brunel Museum’s Midnight Apothecary pop-up cocktail bar

Our latest guest post comes from Lottie Muir, gardener and mixologist at London’s Brunel Museum, who shares how her team devised and promoted their Museums at Night event involving “the hottest pop up cocktail bar in London”.


It is amazing to think that this time last year, the garden in which we hold our pop-up rooftop garden cocktail bar Midnight Apothecary had not even been built.  Twelve months on we are the proud hosts of “the hottest pop up cocktail bar in London” (Evening Standard, August 2012) with plans well under way for Midnight Apothecary events throughout the rest of 2013.

Picture of a garden with plants and deck chairs

Deckchairs set up in preparation for a night-time event (c) Marianne Majerus

 Our enchanted secret rooftop garden sits above Brunel’s Thames Tunnel, part of the Brunel Museum, in Rotherhithe, south east London. 

It had previously been a rather neglected fifty foot diameter circular roof space planted with low maintenance “park plants”.  We transformed it last April with the help of local volunteers into a community potager teeming with vegetables, herbs and flowers.  While it was designed for the enjoyment of museum visitors and local volunteers, including school groups, who share the harvest, the concept of a cocktail bar had never entered our minds.

Last May, the museum director, Robert Hulse, asked me to come up with an activity to bring in a new audience on the Saturday evening of Museums at Night.  With less than a month to plan I thought, flowers and alcohol: you can’t go wrong!  Luckily the museum and gardens are licensed premises where we can serve alcohol.

Two cocktails in a garden, one with a sprig of lavender

Floral cocktails (c) Marianne Majerus

The Midnight Apothecary was born, initially as a one-off casual garden cocktail bar, using herbs and flowers to infuse and garnish the cocktails.  The name ‘Midnight Apothecary’ had a night time gardening feel to it which seemed appropriate for the occasion.  We tucked brightly coloured fake birds and flares in amongst the flowers, stoked up a firepit, put out some deckchairs on the “beach” and with less than 24 hours to go, built a cocktail bar that resembles a potting bench.  A couple of local musicians completed the picture.

A couple drinking cocktails at dusk

Visitors enjoying drinks as night falls at the Midnight Apothecary event (c) Eleanor Salter Thorn

Initially we posted some information to Time Out, the Evening Standard and Metro.  Our Events Manager is a fantastic Twitter user and we also handed out fliers at the local tube stations and put posters up in local shops, pubs and libraries.

We knew we might be on to a winner when Time Out made it their “Pick of the Night”.   Over 120 people came to our first event and imbibed honey and basil dacquiris, whisky with chocolate mint and gin and lavender fizz.  These were washed down with soup, sausages, elderflower fritters and toasted marshmallows.

Midnight Apothecary has grown, as has the garden.  Following our hugely successful first night we decided to run it as a weekly event throughout the summer and autumn of last year. We have held monthly special events throughout the winter.  Our guests are mixed but predominantly young (21-45), style conscious lovers of pop-up events, cocktails and gardens.  This is a new audience for the museum and they are becoming repeat visitors – not just for Midnight Apothecary, but for our concerts and other events.  We regularly get 250 guests on a Saturday night and 400 guests at special events such as Bonfire Night or Halloween.

Women with drinks smiling

The Midnight Apothecary bar up and running (c) Eleanor Salter Thorn

A major factor in our success was a number of favourable online reviews at the start.  These soon seem to snowball once an event sounds ‘hot’.  It required concerted effort at first by approaching event reviewers with enticing copy and images.  But it paid off with great articles in the Evening Standard, the Independent on Sunday and The Telegraph.  A lot of our guests are avid users of social media and thereby do a lot of PR for us with their own reviews and photos from the night.

four smiling women in a garden at night

A happy group of visitors in the Brunel Museum garden at night (c) Eleanor Salter Thorn

We are hard at work preparing for our 2013 season which starts weekly on Saturdays from Easter.  And we’re going to be heavily involved in the Chelsea Fringe Show this year, designing the Chelsea Fringe Cocktail!

Our major lesson from last year is to ticket events – not only can you be sure that you know exactly how many guests are coming but you can maintain a relaxed and well managed operation as opposed to managing a scrum when it gets too popular.  Quite a nice problem to have!


Picture of a woman smiling

Lottie Muir is the gardener at the Brunel Museum and creator of Midnight Apothecary. Details of this project and other events can be found at her website www.thecocktailgardener.co.uk.  For details of other events at the Brunel Museum visit http://www.brunel-museum.org.uk


Thanks Lottie!

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 get in touch at rosie@culture24.org.uk.

Guest post: Signe Troost on social media at Amsterdam’s N8 Museumnacht

Our former Museums at Night intern Signe Troost is part of the blogging team at Amsterdam’s Museumnacht, N8. In our latest guest post, she shares her experiences as part of the social media team during their big night: if your town or city is running a cluster of events for Museums at Night 2013, these ideas could be useful!


One night.

50 venues.

250 events.

Museum Night Amsterdam 2012 (N8) was spectacular and magical in many ways!

NEMO, the Amsterdam Science Centre, held an event focusing on sustainability and recycling which culminated in a silent disco.

As a N8 blogger, I was asked to join the Social Media team: the whole idea was set up by our community manager, Sezayi.

The Social Media team’s mission

25 museums had Live Stream screens up during the night, showing all the #museumnacht tweets and the tweets with their own hash tag. The Social Media team made sure the stream kept on going with tweets, re-tweets and pictures.

Women dressed like 1940s pinup Bettie Page

Dressing up to the nines for Bettie Page night at the Amsterdam Tattoo Museum (c) De Fotomeisjes

All the venues were covered, because each member of the Social Media team was asked which venues he/she was planning to visit. I visited about 10 venues, which is a lot, because a very nice guy with a scooter was kind enough to drive me around the city that night!

What should you tweet?

The members of the Social Media team were asked to live-tweet from every venue we visited. Information about any queues, descriptions of the atmosphere and reviews of the events were really useful, because they helped potential visitors decide where to go next.

Dancers wearing costumes from the early nineteenth century in a historic house at night

Don’t miss this! Historic dancing in costume at the Geelvinck-Hinlopen Huis (c) Maarten Jüngen

N8 is a platform for all museums in Amsterdam, and each museum puts money, time and effort into creating its Museum Night events. As a blogger and part of the Social Media team I had to keep this in mind.

Tweets with a negative tone of voice are no use to anyone, because they can put people off the idea of going to a particular venue, and threaten the success of ongoing events there.

The solution: if a museum seems empty, or the activity doesn’t turn out to be as much fun as it sounded, you can tweet something like ‘Plenty of space here, come down to the X museum and get this party started!’ 

A man and a woman in front of multi-coloured diagonal stripes

A couple share a quiet moment at the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art (c) Roderick Nijenhuis

Useful apps

Two very useful apps for the Social Media team were Moby and Tweetdeck: our manager made sure we could all log in to these using the official N8 account.

Tweetdeck was great for posting messages to Twitter, while allowing us to keep track of what other people were writing about N8 so we could respond to them if necessary.

Two girls sticking post-it notes with writing on to an art installation shaped like a horse

Visitors add their comments to an interactive artwork at the Allard Pierson Museum (c) Maarten Nauw

Moby came in handy to shoot pictures and share them immediately – and we asked visitors to share their pictures of the night with Moby, too. All the tweets and pictures are gathered together on the N8 website – take a look, because it looks really cool!

Atmospheric descriptions

I’d never used Moby before that night and I have to admit, I didn’t really have time to figure it out. So I mostly tweeted descriptively, trying to convey the ambience of the museums I went to.  This led to some interesting discussions about the empty buildings in the Amsterdam Architecture Centre, and the magical atmosphere in the Portuguese Synagogue which was lit up by a thousand candles.

Musicians play to a large audience in a historic synagogue lit only by glowing candles

Violinists play for a hushed crowd as part of a candlelit concert at the Portuguese Synagogue (c) Coockie Manella

It was great to contribute to the endless stream of tweets and share everything that I saw, did and felt with other N8-goers.

Uniting Amsterdam’s museums

The fact that half of the participating venues had Live Streams up and running is amazing, because it means that our museums are not only embracing the possibilities of social media, but visibly experienced its benefits.

Social media provides a new way of connecting heritage venues and collections with their audiences, and, as N8 proved, it also established a bond between all the museums in Amsterdam.

A smiling woman with auburn hairSigne Troost is a Cultural Heritage graduate and blogs for Museum Night Amsterdam. She is currently doing an internship at the Art Committee of the Dutch Ministry of Finance, but hopes to be a museum director by the time she is fifty.


Thanks, Signe!

If you’re reading this and you’ve got something to say about any aspect of audience development, after-hours event planning or marketing for arts and heritage venues, I’d love to publish your guest posts too. Drop me an email at rosie@culture24.org.uk.

Interview with Laura Crossley, Museums at Night cluster coordinator supreme

I recently spoke about Museums at Night marketing through partnerships at the thoroughly interesting Culture Matters conference in Norwich. It was great to meet so many other culture and heritage professionals, compare ideas, and learn about exciting new projects, and I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to explore the stories behind the Norwich 12 iconic heritage buildings with their stunning architecture and history.

A smiling woman standing at a lectern giving a presentation

I spoke about Museums at Night partnerships as part of the Culture Matters conference marketing strand. Image courtesy Norwich HEART & Jemma Mickleburgh

One of the most exciting outcomes is that I’ve been invited to visit Norwich’s sister city, Ghent in Belgium, for their Night of Museums. I’ll be very interested to see how their festival works – and of course I’ll share any good ideas!

While we were at Culture Matters, I took the opportunity to record a chat in the Green Room with Laura Crossley, who has coordinated clusters of Museums at Night activity for three years running. Last year she brought together the Victorian Nights themed cluster, running activities across multiple organisations across three North Norfolk towns.

In this video interview, Laura discusses how to build good working relationships with a range of partners, her recommendations for joint marketing, some of the challenges she’s noticed and how to overcome them.

If you work in a museum, gallery or heritage site and are considering partnering with other local organisations to offer a joint programme of Museums at Night activity, it’s worth watching Laura’s tips: she has a lots of good suggestions for sources of support, event marketing and audience development which could really make a difference to your community.

Guest post: London Transport Museum on attracting audiences to late events

Today’s guest post comes from Lyndsey McLean and Laura Hilton of London Transport Museum, who explain what they’ve learned about attracting audiences from three years of running after-hours events.


Like all specialist museums, London Transport Museum attracts a specialist audience. People love us when they’re children, and when they have grandchildren of their own – and we love them, no matter what age they are!

But we know that the appeal of London Transport goes beyond transport enthusiasts. We have amazing design and fine art collections, and a keen interest in transport technology and the future.

Museum visitors at dusk in front of a digital map installation

As darkness falls, Museums at Night visitors discover interactive digital installations. Photo by Maryam Mazraei (c) London Transport Museum 2012

When the people in the middle, in their 20s, 30s and 40s find us, they are often incredibly excited to discover that there is more to the Transport Museum than buses and trams. And when they come to a Late, they are more than happy to discover those buses and trams with a drink in their hand.

The role of the Public Programmes team is to widen the appeal of the museum, to run events that appeal to our core audience, and also to run events that will tempt other audiences – people with an interest in art, design and technology.

A couple doing a craft activity

Craft workshops are always popular at Lates. Photo by Maryam Mazraei (c) London Transport Museum 2012

We are now into our third year of Late events and have experimented a lot and learned a lot. Embarking on Lates back in 2009/2010 was both exciting and a little daunting. The museum operates as a charity and social enterprise so our budget for such events is derived solely from ticket sales, and we are working alongside some fabulous museums running late events for free.

We do have an audience for Late events, and they give us amazing feedback when they come in. We’ve tried:

  • free Lates
  • linking in with an exhibition opening
  • inviting social groups to come for a discounted rate
  • packing the night with events
  • and letting the museum speak for itself.

Some strategies work better than others, but successful events are dependent on many factors, ranging from season and weather through to content and pricing.

We aim to tie our late events in with an exhibition launch or wider London festival such as Museums at Night or the London Festival of Architecture. The event then receives extra press and PR coverage in addition to our own efforts.

A man reading aloud from a book

Author Craig Taylor reading from ‘Londoners’ in the Mind the Map exhibition. Photo by Maryam Mazraei (c) London Transport Museum 2012

Content needs to link to and promote our temporary exhibition. The event therefore relies heavily on the appeal of the exhibition and we try to be as creative and innovative with the themes as possible to keep up the energy of the lates.

Late openings are hard work and expensive for us to run, but rewarding when feedback from first time visitors states that they found the museum vibrant and exciting and would definitely come back to future events.

Two top tips for income generation

  • Partnership working can bring a new audience, content, and media coverage. In 2011 we worked with onedotzero on our events programme, exposing the museum to a new technologically literate audience. Partnering with Museums at Night in 2012 gave us author Craig Taylor, who read from his new book and signed copies for visitors.
  • Remember your internal partners – our in-house caterers provide a bar at Late events, the Learning Team have worked with young people to provide drop-in workshops, and curators have provided talks and tours … all at no or low cost to the museum.

Cartographer-in-residence Emily Wilkinson maps visitors’ comments about the Museums at Night late opening. Photo by Maryam Mazraei (c) London Transport Museum 2012


2 women smiling in front of a framed picture

Laura Hilton (L) and Lyndsey McLean (R)

Laura Hilton has worked in Public Programmes at London Transport Museum for two years. Previously, she worked in communications and events at London Underground and Transport for London. Laura is a secret Routemaster geek.

Lyndsey McLean has worked at London Transport Museum for two years, initially in the Learning department and as a Public Programmes Manager for the last eighteen months. Previously, Lyndsey worked in museum learning departments in Edinburgh and Glasgow.


Thanks, Lyndsey and Laura!

If you’re reading this and you’ve got something to say about any aspect of audience development, event planning or marketing for arts and heritage venues, I’d love to publish your guest posts too. Drop me an email at rosie@culture24.org.uk.