Tag Archives: family friendly

Guest post: Autumn Neagle describes a glimmering light installation at Cogges Manor Farm

Our latest guest post comes from Autumn Neagle, Marketing and Events Manager at Cogges Manor Farm, who helped attract visitors with a Museums at Night evening of music and an outdoor glowing light installation.

A panoramic photo of a country house in beautiful grounds at dusk

The grounds of Cogges Manor Farm

The history of our venue

Cogges Manor Farm is a historic farmstead just 5 minutes walk from the centre of Witney, a town once known for its thriving wool trade.

Cogges has a fascinating history going back 1000 years. It is listed in the Domesday Book and the first owner Wadard appears as a Norman knight on the Bayeux tapestry! The manor is one of the oldest remaining houses in Oxfordshire with 15 acres of grounds, 17th century farm buildings, a walled garden and Victorian apple orchard.

Popular with locals and tourists with over 40,000 visitors this season, Cogges is now attracting visitors from all over the world due to appearing as ‘Yew Tree Farm’ on ITV’s Downton Abbey.

Using the orchard

The beautiful outside space gave me the idea to hold the main attraction for our first Museums at Night event in the orchard. We aim to present the site in a unique and inspiring light to visitors, so focusing the event in the orchard after hours was a great way of creating a new experience.

An orchard at dusk full of people and tiny glowing LED lights

The lights of Field Test glimmering in the orchard. Image courtesy OCM

Creative collaborations

I got in touch with Oxford Contemporary Music and they suggested an installation by Alex Bradley, a Bristol-based artist they had been working with. We were delighted to be able to host Alex’s outdoor installation Field Test.

Alex has a family history of cataracts, and this installation is inspired by the Visual Field Test used to examine peripheral vision. Mixing audio, technology and instruments with birdbox speakers and 800 solar LED light units, ethereal harmonies came from all around as people wandered through the trees.

green glowing LEDs around a stone wall outdoors

Glimmering LEDs as part of Alex Bradley’s Field Test. Image courtesy OCM

I programmed harpist Steph West, and singer Jess Hall with cellist Barney Morse Brown in the barn, and we served soup and a drinks bar. We had artwork and demonstrations, storytelling and kids activities led by volunteers.

The visitor experience

We welcomed over 300 regulars and new visitors. People meandered around the farm while it was still light and gathered in the orchard as the skies darkened.

The evening was unique for Witney, and we were lucky with the weather, as it was a beautiful summer evening and people stayed outside till 10pm. It was wonderful to see families picnicking and children playing and many commented how special it felt.

People loved the event and enjoyed spending relaxed time in beautiful surroundings after hours at Cogges, a place at the heart of the community and special to many generations.

A woman playing a harp in a barn for three children

Harpist Steph West performing watched by young visitors. Image courtesy Verity Hoper

Financing the event

Alex’s installation was produced by OCM and was funded, which is why we were lucky enough to be able to host an artistic piece of this calibre at no cost to the charity. We charged just £2 entry to encourage as many people as possible to come along and see it. On this special occasion, none of the performers charged a fee, and we broke even.

What we learned

Lessons learned included providing more food stalls in future, and lighting dark areas, as we had to keep the orchard and surrounding area unlit for the installation.

Communicating the artistic nature of the event was challenging: from descriptions of the lights, some visitors said they had expected a laser show. Providing suggested tweets in the press release might have helped to describe the event more clearly, and several visitors asked us for more information about the artist.

Overall, though, the event was very well received with lots of 10 out of 10s on the visitor survey.

OCM gratefully acknowledges the support of Arts Council England, PRSF, Oxford City Council and Oxford Brookes University.

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A woman with dark hairAutumn Neagle is Marketing and Events Manager at Cogges. She has worked as a PR and Programming producer for music and arts organizations and projects in Oxfordshire and London at live music venues, community arts organizations, festivals, carnivals, museums and galleries.

Find out more about Cogges on Facebook or follow @CoggesWitney on Twitter.

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Thanks, Autumn!

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.

New opportunity: Host a Museum Town Square!

Culture24 seek expressions of interest in Museum Town Square, an expansion on Market Hall Museum Warwick’s ‘Great Warwickshire Show And Tell’ event for Connect10 in 2014. We are looking at the idea of rolling out these open-air museum events around the country, either in 2015 or 2016.

A group of people visiting market stalls

Visitors flock to the market stall in Warwick. Picture courtesy Rebecca Hone

What’s the big idea?

The philosophy behind Museum Town Square is simple – give people a forum to present and talk about their passion, without hierarchy or the need for prices or literature – and they will make a deeper connection with the people they meet.

The huge breadth of collections and displays, from beekeepers to bread-makers, cheese-rollers and barrel burners will tap into the hidden resource and passionate expertise of Britain’s collectors. In contrast to the homogenous nature of the modern town centre, for three days in May streets and squares will showcase the diversity of the country’s enthusiasms.

Museum Town Square will be artist-led, empowering people to be at the heart of the art, with activities and things to do animating the spaces throughout the day. It will attract enormous media coverage; from local TV, radio and press, supplemented with national BBC programming, creating a unifying national experience.

The Warwick story

This idea was piloted in Warwick for Museums at Night 2014 by Alex Hartley in partnership with Market Hall Museum, attracting over 4,000 people to the market square and the museum. The town’s market stalls were used to unify the exhibits into a single celebratory event. Basic rules prevented direct selling and commercial signage. Each stall was manned by an expert, creating a hosted cabinet of curiosities.

Watch the short film about the Warwick event: http://youtu.be/bWj8-hR2khs.

A dancing bin man

A dancing ban man welcomes visitors to Warwick’s Museum Town Square

What will Museum Town Square mean for your community?

Museum Town Square will turn town squares nationwide into outdoor museums, creating a national mass participation event and art happening on a grand scale. Centrally curated by artist Alex Hartley, with input on a local level from local artists, the stalls will feature community and hobbyist organisations and individuals – turning each town centre into a giant outdoor show-and-tell, for one late afternoon/evening only.

Each event would be run with a very simple set of ground rules (including no selling or print material allowed) with the aim of facilitating a dialogue and conversation between enthusiasts and visitors, which worked so well in Warwick last year.

The fluorescent outfits of the breakdancing binmen shine brightly as evening falls

The fluorescent outfits of the breakdancing binmen shine brightly as evening falls

Event co-ordination 

Each event will be run by a local museum or gallery, with central support and guidance from Culture24 in every aspect of the project. The lead organisation in each town will be responsible for coordinating the invited local community groups and running the logistics of the event, which presents an opportunity for that organisation to raise their profile both within the community and directly to audiences.

Next steps 

This project will go ahead subject to a successful application to one or more public funding organisations, and would be managed on a full cost-recovery basis for all participating venues.

If you are interested in being part of this project please fill in this very short Expression of Interest form: https://culture24.wufoo.com/forms/museum-town-square-expression-of-interest-form/

A group poem from author Guy Bass’s event at Trencherfield Mill

Trencherfield Mill in Wigan took advantage of Museums at Night’s partnership with the Reading Agency, and welcomed children’s author Guy Bass to lead a creative writing workshop about monsters for their family audience.

A man with brown hair smiling

Guy Bass (c) Curtis Brown

Carole Ogden from Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust has shared the brilliantly atmospheric poem she compiled from the group’s suggestions:

“While the children were decorating the monster, I asked them for words or phrases to describe the monster or what they were doing. While they were being entertained by Guy Bass I then used all those words to make a poem about constructing our monster and then read it to them before they went home, and they spotted their contributions to it.”

A large cardboard monster made by children

Stinky Phil, the Trencherfield Mill Monster. Image courtesy Carole Ogden

With no further ado, please read on – and tremble at the monstrous ode the children devised!

Stinky Phil – The Trencherfield Mill Monster

Tonight we made a monster,
for Museums at Night,
he is quite wide and hairy
and gave us all a fright!

He’s a multi-coloured mutant
who we call ‘Stinky Phil’;
one leg’s orange, one is brown
and his home is in the Mill.

He’s rather monolithic,
doesn’t say a lot,
but when he speaks, he breathes out
streams of gloopy snot! (Yuk!!)

We thought he’d be gregarious,
make some monster mates,
but he’s too shy and slimy
to ever get a date.

His fangs are long and pointy,
he has a spotty chest
and sports a dazzling monobrow
‘neath hair like a chicken’s nest!

Because he only has one eye
and a patch across his nose
he can’t see how ferocious
he looks, dressed in those clothes.

I know his legs are drippy
and rather speckled too
but he does look patriotic
with his fur red, white and blue.

We think our monster’s brilliant –
imagine him outside:
big as a giant, hairy feet,
two-pencils-and-two-spots wide!

So Stinky Phil is ready,
what will he do now?
We’ll have to keep him at the Mill
So visitors say “Wow!!”

So there are really monsters,
scary from toe to head.
I think, when I get home tonight,
I’ll check beneath my bed…

Guest Post: Laura Crossley reviews Jessica Voorsanger at 20-21 Visual Arts Centre in Scunthorpe

Our latest event review guest post comes from Laura Crossley, a Heritage and Audience Development Consultant and friend of Museums at Night who discovered other worlds at 20-21 Visual Arts in Scunthorpe!

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Saturday night TV is rubbish. What, therefore, is one to do to avoid National Lottery In It To Win It and endless repeats of Come Dine With Me? (Yes, being a mere mortal, of course I like Come Dine With Me but, no, I do not feel the need to watch ten episodes a day). On Saturday 17 May, the answer to that question came in the glorious form of 20-21 Visual Art Gallery’s Sci-Fi evening.

It's all gone a bit Bowie! #jvtv2021

A post shared by 20-21 Visual Arts Centre (@2021visualarts) on

The event, for which we have to thank the brilliant minds of the 20-21 staff and multimedia artist Jessica Voorsanger, was a frenzied explosion of everyone’s favourite Sci-Fi programmes – Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who and more, with a sprinkling of Men in Black, mixed with several hundred rolls of tinfoil and flashing disco lights, all topped off with raucous space-themed karaoke – think Venus, Walking on the Moon, Spaceman, Girl From Mars, Space Oddity; you get the picture.

The silhouette of a figure in a suit standing in a doorway in a cloud of dry ice

Jessica Voorsanger silhouetted at the entrance to 20-21 Visual Arts (c) Know Media

The evening started with a life-affirming Men in Black parade with sharp suits, shades and serious dance moves rocking the streets of Scunthorpe.

@cutlimited and @jvoorsanger with Frank Pug after our Men In Black parade down Scunthorpe High Street this evening. #jvtv2021

A post shared by 20-21 Visual Arts Centre (@2021visualarts) on

The party then moved indoors to the kitschly (I’m claiming that as a word) decorated 20-21 Gallery where staff in fabulous space attire led an array of interactive activities.

a boy in front of a tardis with a colourful paper arm

A young visitor stepping out of the Tardis with a new bionic arm

As an avid fan of silliness, my favourite activities were dressing up in a Star Trek costume and being photographed in a neon space landscape, and sitting in a chair whilst lots of small furry balls, made by the local community, cascaded onto me from on high. The latter activity was a homage to much-loved Star Trek episode, The Trouble with Tribbles, in which the Enterprise is overrun by tribbles, purring balls of fluff which multiply at rapid speed.

A girl surrounded by small fluffy objects

A young visitor experiences a Tribble trouble avalanche (c) 20-21 Visual Arts

There was life drawing with Jedi light sabers…

handmade pink light sabers

Light sabers at 20-21 Visual Arts

There was sci-fi karaoke …

Jessica Voorsanger with two sassy space cadets on the cosmic karaoke, at last Saturday's Museums At Night event. #MaN2014 @jvtv2021

A post shared by 20-21 Visual Arts Centre (@2021visualarts) on

Two Doctors. One Karaoke machine. LOTS OF FUN! #MaN2014 #JVTV2021

A post shared by 20-21 Visual Arts Centre (@2021visualarts) on

Visitors could even stage a Dalek attack!

a small boy menaces his parents with a dalek

Family dalek drama (c) 20-21 Visual Arts

It seems that the answer to Saturday night TV boredom might lie somewhere in a galaxy far, far away…..or more probably at a stupendous gallery in Scunthorpe.

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a woman smilingLaura Crossley is a Heritage and Audience Development Consultant and PhD Researcher. Her website is www.lauracrossley.com and you can follow her on Twitter at @lfcrossley.

 

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Thanks, Laura!

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.

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.

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.