Tag Archives: #MatN2011

Urgent: Please tell us how we can improve Museums at Night 2012!

I’m back at my desk now after a well-deserved break, and it’s wonderfully heartening to see all the feedback rolling in from Museums at Night venues and visitors. Thanks to everyone who’s filled in a venue survey form – we’re already learning a lot. The survey link is here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/53KPJ9C

Perhaps the most surprising responses have come from Mill Meece Pumping Station in Staffordshire: among their reasons for participating in the campaign was the pragmatic “Boiler already up to pressure for annual safety valve test, therefore minimal cost”. We’re also happy to hear that running their Museums at Night event “paid for coal used for the annual safety valve check”.

Did your event have any unusual outcomes, positive or negative? What kinds of marketing did you do, how many volunteers were involved, and how many visitors came along? How would you rate Culture24’s work – do our e-newsletters come too often, or not often enough? What extra resources would be useful to you next year? We really want to do our job more effectively and be more helpful to you, while growing the campaign ever larger and devising new promotional opportunities – and this is your chance to reflect and share your views.

Our current sample size isn’t big enough to be useful for the independent evaluation of the campaign yet: although Museums at Night events took place at 352 venues across the UK, so far only 88 venues have completed the survey. We particularly need to hear from galleries for our report to Arts Nation.

If you haven’t already filled out a survey form it’s quick and easy to do: just click on this link http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/53KPJ9C and it should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.

We use the data from the surveys to compile a thorough evaluation report which contains statistics on the campaign: case studies; quotes from leading stakeholders; evidence of growth, reach, development and capacity building and evidence from the visitor survey. It really is an essential document which we use it for advocacy, partnership building and fundraising.

It is clear already that the campaign has grown significantly this year but we need a richer, more in-depth view of what is a complex multi-layered project.

Please help us to sustain the campaign – your feedback helps to secure funding by providing a robust evidence base and will be essential in securing sponsorship for next year’s campaign!

The word HELP written with a torch in the darkness

Please help us by filling in an evaluation form! Photo courtesy of Flickr user Rainier N under a Creative Commons license.

If you ran a Museums at Night event, please take a few minutes to fill in our venue survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/53KPJ9C

Thanks very much!

Guest post: Chris Pensa on the day Love Art London met Michael Landy

For the first time ever, Culture24 ran a joint Facebook competition to raise awareness about Museums at Night together with Love Art London. Chris Pensa describes the experience of the competition winners as they met artist Michael Landy.

LAL Logo


If you’ve ever found yourself wandering through the ordinarily bustling streets of London’s west end at 8:30am on a Saturday morning it’s a remarkable experience I highly recommend. No, I wasn’t wending my way home after a heavy night on the tiles rather en route to the National Portrait Gallery to meet one of my all time heroes, the artist Michael Landy. A key player in the YBA movement, Landy shot to fame in 2001 for Break Down, a performance installation in which he destroyed every single one of his worldly possessions, all 7,227 of them, from gas bills to the clothes on his back, even artworks given to him by his famous friends like Damien Hirst. Michael arrives bang on time wearing some oversized sunglasses to disguise his jet lag. He’s just returned from New York where his partner, the artist Gillian Wearing, was installing her new solo show entitled People. A running theme in the Landy/Wearing household given we’ve met at the NPG to talk about his Art World Portraits.

Michael & May

The 25 competition winners we invited to join us arrived punctually with mouths a frothing, not least about meeting Michael but also about having the entire NPG to themselves before the public flood in. At 9am the security guards opened the back door and we were huddled in. After a brief introduction the crowd got stuck straight in with questions. The first paw in the air wanted to know if Michael could remember what the first possession he acquired in his new ‘post Break Down’ life was. The artist confessed with a wry smile that within five minutes of the installation ending someone handed him a Paul Weller CD. So random you couldn’t make it up.

Considering Michael’s work usually requires an enormous investment of physical labour, could the twelve finely rendered pencil sketches in front of us be read as a spot of light relief? Nope. Michael told us these were part of a larger body of drawings of his friends and family executed back to back for over a year. Eight hours a day. Seven days a week. His obsessive, immersive practice is still there, the viewer just has to work a little harder to access it. Michael explained how in each portrait he started with the left eye. This almost superstitious routine reminded me of the England cricketer Jack Russell who would always put his left sock and shoe on before his right. If he didn’t all hell would break loose. Michael assured us he wasn’t a conspiracy theorist but “the left eye just felt like the right place to start.”

Given that he requires as much from his sitters as he gives of himself, Michael’s subjects become willing accomplices in his ritualistic creative self-flagellation. I ask him what the experience is like for them. “I work very closely to my subject’s face, sometimes only a foot away, sometimes people are uncomfortable at first, having someone starring at them so closely, but generally they acclimatise pretty quickly. Some people fidget, some listen to Radio 4, some drink a lot of tea. I remember one sitter was very particular about his tea, insisting the tea bag was not to be squeezed, ever.” I asked what characteristics make an ideal sitter. “I like people who surrender themselves to the cause and allow me to bully them into position. To get the best out of a sitter I really need to bully them.” It says a great deal about Michael that despite these openly pseudo-masochistic confessions every member of the audience was secretly desperate to volunteer. I mentioned I’d seen an interesting short film showing the artist at work sketching the Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark. I quipped that he’s practically straddling her. Michael laughs this suggestion off, insisting it’s all above board and integral in order for him to access the essence of his subject.

WATCH: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnTCZFyzkvY

And before we knew it, our time with Michael was coming to an end. With only a few minutes left we had time for one last question. A hand was raised and the following words were uttered, “Michael, where did you get your trousers?” The answer that came straight back was “Paul Smith.” And that seemed like a perfect place to end our time with the legendary Michael Landy. High fives were liberally distributed and the artist disappeared to pick up his dog, May, who’d been staying with his mum whilst he and Gillian were in New York. An hour in the company of greatness is a rare and beautiful thing.

Gillian Wearing

Michael Landy's sketch of his wife Gillian Wearing

To find out more about Love Art London and sign up to our membership programme, visit: http://www.loveartlondon.com/

Michael Landy’s Art World Portraits are on display at the National Portrait Gallery until 17 July.

The latest Museums at Night roundup – it’s all go!

Want to see and hear some of the coverage the campaign has had so far?

Here’s what went out on ITV’s breakfast show Daybreak yesterday morning: http://www.itv.com/daybreak/lifestyle/familiesandparenting/museums-at-night/ – I think we should all give Nick Hewitt from the Explosino! Museum of Naval Firepower a big pat on the back for his enthusiasm and for saying such wonderful things about Museums at Night!

We’re delighted that Museums at Night was a lead story in Time Out magazine (and apparently also became the top story on their website – Londoners love their after-hours arts and heritage!), and I’ve lost track of the amount of newspaper and magazine coverage we had too!

I was interviewed chatting enthusiastically for Radio 5 Live – my interview begins 24 minutes in. The radio piece I’m most proud of is this interview with Radio Devon: I’d prepared ahead of time, and the interviewer, David Fitzgerald, let me get into my stride. My part begins at 2:06:40, and after me, you’ll hear Dee Martin of Torre Abbey going in to more detail about their Live Action Cluedo event.

Nick was interviewed by the unusual DJ double-act of Ken Livingstone and David Mellor on LBC Radio this lunchtime, talking about Museums at Night happenings in the capital tonight. One of the events he gave a plug to was the bat walk at Whitehall, Cheam: and now we know that radio publicity works, as just a few minutes ago their local museum service Sutton Heritage proudly tweeted that this event had sold out!

A Twitter update from Sutton Heritage

Radio publicity is instantly effective!

We’ll also be on Radio 5 Live from 8pm tonight. It’s all very exciting!

Guest post: Cat Gibbard presents Newlyn Art Gallery’s Book of the Night

MUSEUMS AT NIGHT IS HERE, PEOPLE! Tune in to Sky News at 1:45 to see the Director of the Churchill War Rooms discussing it! Everything is frantically exciting at C24 Towers right now, but I’m keen to share this guest blog post from Newlyn Art Gallery’s Education Officer Cat Gibbard about a really unusual creative Museums at Night event: all-night printing and bookbinding down in Cornwall!


Things are beginning to take shape in preparation for our Museums at Night marathon creative event, A Book of the Night.

The current inhabitants of our pop –up studio, which forms an integral part of The Exchange’s current exhibition Print! (www.printpz.com) are the illustrators and designers Alexandra Higglet and Georgina Hounsome. Check out their blog, where they’re writing about what it’s like being on a week-long artists’ residency at The Exchange  www.studionumbersix.blogspot.com!

A woman doing letterpress printing

Alexandra Higglet's letterpress printing. Image courtesy of Studio Number Six.

To bring our Museums at Night plans together, we’re making the most of having these experts around. Alex and George are going to lead a merry band of creatives  through the night from Saturday to Sunday, designing and printing pieces of artwork that will ultimately be bound into a book, making aunique record of the night.

Although we’re all relishing the challenge of only having 12 hours in which to create something beautiful, as the time approaches, anxieties about the physical test of a sleepless night have begun to creep to the fore – we’re hoping that night-time nibbles from Newlyn Cheese and Charcuterie, a few glasses of wine and some upbeat music will keep the old grey matter stimulated.

People performing in a dimly lit space

A night-time performance in Newlyn Art Gallery's basement, part of the 2010 Fluxus Now Symposium. Image courtesy Newlyn Art Gallery.

At the last count, 23 intrepid people had registered to take part in this very unusual printing challenge! Although their identities will remain under wraps until they meet each other for the first time on the night, I can reveal that their ages range from 19 to 83 and amongst the artists, printmakers and writers we’ll also be welcoming a musician and an architect!

PZ Conservation will be popping by as the action gets underway on Saturday, no doubt bringing with them some words of wisdom on the technicalities of producing a book. They’ll reappear on Sunday morning to gather up the pages ready for binding – and to applaud those who are still standing!

A woman sitting at a desk

Cat Gibbard

Cat Gibbard is Education Officer at Newlyn Art Gallery. You can visit Newlyn Art Gallery’s website here www.newlynartgallery.co.uk, or connect with them on Twitter (where we may see live updates during the Book of the Night event) at @NewlynExchange.

Guest post: Elaine Lees presents Night Sites across Pennine Lancashire

Using a video camera and computer together

Creating stop frame animation with Creativity Works

In Pennine Lancashire (the east bit of Lancashire) we have something called Creativity Works. Creativity Works is a cultural consortium – working collaboratively across local authorities, funders, arts organisations and venues. Its aim is to raise the profile of and engagement with the arts in our region. Two strands of our work are a visual arts network called POPL (Perspectives of Pennine Lancashire) and Arts Engagement and Heritage, which works with 5 key heritage venues.

For Museums at Night 2011 the POPL network is organising activities at a number of venues with support from Arts Engagement and Heritage. We ran activities at three venues last year with good results, but felt we could do more and better. This time we’ve partnered and gained funding from Modern History which promotes the industrial heritage of the North West, we’ve registered our events in Culture24’s database so they feature on the site and in the national PR campaign, we are working with five rather than three venues and we’ve created a strong visual identity for our campaign entitled Night Sites. We are promoting this through postcards, leaflets,  posters,  PR campaign and digital presence including features on our website, social networking sites and partner sites.

So what’s on in Pennine Lancashire for Night Sites? On Fri 13 May, Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery offer printmaking for all the family with artist Sarah Lawton. Haworth Art Gallery asks for help making a sculptural installation with artist Becky Waite; and Helmshore Mills Textile Museum are running a Lucky 13’s Twilight Mill Tour and textile weaving activity.

A taxidermy tiger being attacked by a stuffed snake

One of the dramatic taxidermy dioramas inspiring creative writing at Rossendale Museum. Image courtesy Ben Pearson.

On Saturday 14 May, Rossendale Museum offers Dead Good Stuffed Stuff, an evening of story making. Finally, on Sunday 15 May Queen Street Mill Textile Museum is running ‘The Calico People’ art installation and textile printing night.

A snarling stuffed polar bear

More dead good stuffed stuff: Rossendale Museum's snarling polar bear. Photo courtesy Ben Pearson.

By combining visual art with the industrial heritage story behind each venue, we hope to create interesting events that give audiences another reason to visit. We’ve made all of our events free and suitable for all the family to encourage as many visitors as possible.

Lots of people are helping make our Night Sites campaign happen! We’ve got a core team of four part-time people plus assistance from the county museums service and local authorities. We also have an enthusiastic representative from each venue to help us organise the activities, not to mention the artists who will inspire the public on the night and the researchers who will ask everyone what they thought. Now there’s only the press release to draft, poster to get printed, websites to update…….and only 3 weeks to go!

For more info see:
Twitter – @poplnetwork #nightsites

A smiling woman with glasses

Elaine Lees

Elaine Lees is Communications Officer for Creativity Works, and can be contacted at Elaine@creativityworks.info

Sky Arts’ Museums at Night trailer is here!

We are so delighted with this fantastic video – it’s the trailer for the documentary Sky Arts are shooting about Museums at Night! Talented producer Mike Wiseman and his crew shot, chopped and scored this atmospheric video in just one day. Of all the lovely things to receive before going home for the Easter holidays, this has to be one of the best.

Feast your eyes! We recommend turning the volume up loud and expanding the video to fill your screen.

We’d like to thank the Old Operating Theatre Museum for showing the crew their amputating table, which will be in action during their Surgery by Gaslight Museums at Night event, and the National Gallery for introducing their Museums at Night Renaissance evening.

Happy Easter, everybody – with only 3 weeks to go until Museums at Night weekend (Friday 13th – Sunday 15th May) we’ll be in touch again very soon!

Get the free Museums at Night 2011 PR Toolkit here!

ANNOUNCEMENT: You have until 11am on Friday to order your FREE copies of BBC History Magazine’s Guide to Museums at Night – please click here to request a box of brochures now!

A massive cannon dwarfing two Napoleonic soldiers

Our promotional tools and resources are like mighty weapons for your marketing armoury.

I’ve just compiled an exhaustive list of all the tools and resources that can help you plan and publicise Museums at Night events: click here to take a look and make sure you’re not missing out on any nuggets of promotional genius!

One resource I’ve been working on for a while is this year’s PR Toolkit: we’ve already had some very kind feedback on this 7 page downloadable PDF, which I’ve put together with help from PR and marketing experts Pandora George and Ruth Cobb.

If you’re responsible for marketing your venue, you may already be familiar with all the suggestions we make, but if you’re not certain how to set up a media photocall, or would like to check what essential things should be included in every press release, please click here to download the PR Toolkit! It’s completely free, and although it’s mainly focused on promoting your Museums at Night events, the good ideas it contains (e.g. what makes a good publicity photo?) should be handy all year round.

Finally, thanks to Seaford Museum for sending me the stonking photo of the cannon atop their Martello Tower which illustrates this post! If you’re interested in exploring the diverse collections of the “Tardis of East Sussex,” which their friendly volunteers will be opening up with atmospheric lighting, their special Museums at Night event takes place on  Friday 13th May.

Order your free Guides to Museums at Night by 11am on Friday 8th April!

The wonderful BBC History Magazine Guide to Museums at Night is on its way to the printers now! It’s a thing of beauty: an A5 size, full-colour glossy brochure with 16 pages of photos and writing. However, we can only take your orders up until 11am on Friday 8th April. Order your free copies here!

The Guide picks out event highlights by theme, giving a flavour of the diversity of events that will be on offer across the UK over Museums at Night weekend. The idea of this persuasive text is that members of the public who pick it up will be compelled to head to the Museums at Night website to find out what’s on near them.

Last year this was a key part of the campaign marketing at a local level, and the venues who took boxes of brochures to distribute reported great success from putting them out in their own foyers and cafes, local libraries, bookshops, theatres, cafes, bars and supermarkets. You know better than we do where people in your town are likely to pick up flyers, leaflets and brochures – and here’s ready-made high-quality printed publicity, at no cost to you, for you to make the most of!

Order your free brochures here now!

If  your venue is running a Museums at Night event and you don’t fill in the form, we’ll automatically send you a box of 100 brochures. However, can you take more than this? Alternatively, if for some reason you can’t put any brochures out, please fill in the form to let us know so we don’t send you unnecessary copies.

Every reader of BBC History Magazine will get a Guide, but we’re having 100,000 extras printed to send out to you all. Last year it was really heartening to see many venues who weren’t able to run events asking for brochures to put out so that they could support other local venues by promoting the campaign.

Could you do this? Please click here to request your Guides!

A photo of two girls drinking wine by a statue in a museum

The front cover of BBC History Magazine's Guide to Museums at Night 2011

Behind-the-scenes blog bonus: find out what it was like for one of our writers to model for the front cover of the Guide by reading Laura Burgess’ blog post about the experience here!

Lauren Laverne launches Museums at Night at the Enchanted Palace

There are a few sore throats (from lots of talking) and sore feet (from our immensely glamorous shoes) at Culture24 Towers today … for last night our campaign ambassador, the fabulous Lauren Laverne, launched this year’s campaign at Kensington Palace! You can read Culture24’s official story, with excerpts from Lauren’s speech, here.

But this is our story I’m telling here. We travelled up from Brighton to London in the afternoon, and as we were pulling in to Victoria saw a fantastic good omen a couple of tracks away – a steam train!

Three excited people in a train carriage

Nick, Anra and Jane on the train

Arriving at the Palace, our advance party had the chance to explore the Enchanted Palace exhibition: the idea is that you go on a quest to find out stories from the lives of seven princesses who once lived at Kensington. You’re encouraged to investigate the artworks, installations and designer dresses, ask questions of the explainers and interact with performers from WILDWORKS Theatre Company – a really innovative and unexpected experience.

A woman seated upon a knitted throne playing with her mobile phone

Culture24 director Jane Finnis in her natural habitat: seated upon a magnificent knitted throne

Of course, I’m sure you’ll want to see our fabulous frocks: here are the Culture24 crew posing outside the Orangery before the evening kicked off. Don’t we look lovely?

A photo of a line of people in a formal garden

The Culture24 team - we do scrub up nicely

From left to right: writer Ben Miller; writer Laura Burgess; activities editor Conrad Westmaas; network and marketing coordinator Ruth Harper; PR coordinator Pandora George; chair of Culture24’s Board of Trustees John Newbigin; head of programmes Anra Kennedy; editor Richard Moss; finance coordinator Tessa Watson; director Jane Finnis; Museums at Night project manager Nick Stockman; Museums at Night project coordinator Rosie Clarke; arts writer Mark Sheerin; technical producer Larna Pantrey-Mayer; Museums at Night intern Signe Troost. Phew!

A photo of a woman in a gold jacket on a podium

Lauren Laverne speaks at the Museums at Night launch

And now, the question everybody’s been asking us: what was it like meeting Lauren Laverne in real life? Well, she was ravishingly gorgeous in a golden jacket and vertiginous high heels, yet very down-to-earth. Within minutes of stepping through the door she complimented me on my dress and Larna on her hair, before floating upstairs in a golden aura of charisma and loveliness. We are all slightly smitten. She gave an enthusiastic speech explaining why she supports the campaign, then chatted with guests from the arts and heritage world, and happily posed for photos among the exhibitions.

A photos of a woman in a bedroom with enormous puppets

Lauren Laverne in Queen Victoria's bedroom - the Room of Imaginary Friends

Thanks to photographer Charlotte Macpherson for taking photos on the night, and to everyone from Blue Strawberry Catering for the drinks and canapes. We’re also incredibly grateful to Tim Powell, Charlotte Winship and the entire efficient, good-humoured team at Historic Royal Palaces for all their help in facilitating the event. I hope everyone who came had a great time, and that we’re all inspired for Museums at Night weekend (Friday 13th – Sunday 15th May!)

A glamorous couple descending a wood-panelled staircase

Nick and I ready to welcome visitors to our lovely Palace. Sorry, THE lovely Palace.

All the photos in this post are courtesy of Charlotte Macpherson, who can be contacted on photos@charlottemacpherson.co.uk.

Talking about Museums at Night on Twitter? Use the hashtag #MatN2011!

This morning, I’ve got a quick update for you about how we’ll be using Twitter in the run-up to Museums at Night.

The @Culture24 Twitter account, where we share stories from our network of over 4000 UK arts and heritage venues, is proving very popular with almost 8000 followers. An example of a tweet from this account:

An image of a tweet written by Culture24

We’ll be using this account to tweet about a different Museums at Night event every day. With over 150 events already registered, we won’t be able to mention every single one, but we’ll try to highlight events taking place across the UK in a range of large and small venues.We’ll also make sure to link to each venue’s Twitter profile – here’s an example of a tweet linking to Spike Island in Bristol:

A Culture24 tweet about a Museums at Night event linking to Spike Island

If you’re interested in following the discussion about Museums at Night 2011, or would like to tweet about it yourself, please use the hashtag #MatN2011. Last year’s hashtag (#museumsatnight) was a bit too long, so we’re going for a shorter one this year.

We also own the Twitter account @MuseumsatNight, but we won’t be tweeting from it – for updates from the campaign, which is brought to you by Culture24, you should follow the Culture24 twitter account here: www.twitter.com/Culture24.