Tag Archives: Museums at Night 2011

Read the evaluation of Museums at Night 2011!

The evaluation is out at last! Thank you for helping to make 2011 the most successful Museums at Night ever. 352 venues staged 467 events, in 169 different towns and cities across the UK. These fantastic events attracted over 100,000 visitors, and attracted media coverage worth over £1.1 million pounds – an extraordinary result, based on direct campaign funding of only £95,000.

A child asleep in a museum clutching a mask

Sleeping over in a museum (c) Pal Hansen

The most flattering statistic for Project Manager Nick Stockman and myself is that 94% of participating venues said they’d take part again – we look forward to working with you all on the 2012 campaign.

The 6-page Executive Summary contains the top line statistics, and takes five minutes to read.
Download the Executive Summary here

The 42-page Evaluation Report contains the results of our research over the course of the campaign, along with a series of case studies from participating venues.
Download the full Evaluation Report here

If you just want to find out how participating venues thought the Museums at Night experience went, you can read the case studies on their own.
Download the case studies here

We emailed this news to our Museums at Night mailing list last week – are you receiving email updates from the campaign? If you’d like to receive our monthly updates, giving you news of partnerships and promotional opportunities you can take advantage of, simply sign up here: http://eepurl.com/45xU

We need your Museums at Night photos!

Look at these fascinating pictures from the Museums at Night 2011 Flickr group!

Three dancers silhouetted against a green background

Dancers at the Museum of Bath at Work by Julian Lewis

There are lots to enjoy already, but we’re looking for more. Every year we strongly encourage venues who run Museums at Night events to take lots of photos on the night. These are great not only for capturing the excitement of your event, but are also useful for publicity for your venue (when you send out press releases, print or email newsletters, update your website, and put up display boards – having photographic proof of visitors enjoying themselves while discovering your collections in a different light really comes in handy!)

A series of threads stretching across an industrial warehouse

Installation by Susanne Davies at Halmshore Mills Textile Museum, courtesy of Creativity Works

If you took any photos on the night, please share them in our Flickr group: we’re particularly keen to see high-resolution photos showing people engaging with your collections, trying hands-on activities, and generally smiling and having a good time. We like to use these images to publicise the Museums at Night campaign in future – they’ll pop up in numerous channels:

  • the Culture24 website
  • this blog
  • our Facebook page
  • our regular e-newsletters (which you can sign up for here)
  • the Museums at Night evaluation report
  • presentations given by Culture24 staff at conferences
  • our Museums at Night press image library
  • and even the video we’re currently editing for our campaign sponsorship pitch!
Traditionally painted canal art lit by candles

Cans in Candlelight, courtesy the London Canal Museum

I’d also like to thank everyone who took the time to fill in a Museums at Night venue survey – we never imagined that so many of you would be blocked from accessing SurveyMonkey, but we ended up emailing PDFs of the survey questions to people who couldn’t access them online. All your feedback is incredibly helpful, and we’ll be sharing our findings through the campaign evaluation.

And finally, a reminder about our e-newsletters: if you sign up to Culture24’s free Museums at Night mailing list, you’ll receive an email once a month with news of partnerships, campaigns and promotional opportunities you may like to take advantage of, along with ideas and publicity deadlines for Museums at Night 2012 – keeping you in the loop all year round. Sign up here!

Venues, please fill in the Museums at Night survey now!

Thanks to the 97 people who have filled in the Museums at Night venue survey so far, to tell us how they found the experience, what worked well, what was challenging, and how Culture24 can improve what we offer in future.

However, we really need a minimum of 150 venues to fill in the survey to give us a decent sample size. I’ve sent emails and now I’m making as many phonecalls as I can to remind people about the survey … but please, if you ran an event at your venue, won’t you save me some time and click here to fill in the survey now?

It’ll be open until Monday 20th June – please, whether you feel the campaign was good, bad or indifferent, tell us what you think!

That link again: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/53KPJ9C

Thank you!

Guest post: Charles Potter shares the railway history love from Topsham Museum

Today’s guest post is a case study from a successful Museums at Night event organiser, Charles Potter of Topsham Museum in Devon.


Museums at Night is over for another year – and wasn’t it amazing? It is thought that the final total was 457 events taking place at 352 venues – more than ever before. Here at Topsham Museum everything ran like clockwork on Sunday 15th May too!

Our clockwork train layout was a major attraction for both young and old: 150 visitors joined in this evening event for the third year.

A man dressed as a train conductor demonstrating a model railway

Young and old visitors alike enjoyed discovering the model railway

As the main exhibition in 2011 centres around the 150th anniversary of the Exeter to Exmouth line, it was decided to maintain this theme throughout the evening.

There was a chance to recall the days of steam with Francis Luscombe and Mike Trout who talked of the line from the station to the Quay and the fight to keep the line to Exmouth during the ‘Beeching’ era!

Continuing the railway theme, music played was provided by the Saxation Quartet who are part of the Lympstone Band. Many toes were tapping as a crowd gathered round in the garden.

4 saxophone players under a gazebo

The Saxation Quartet provided a musical accompaniment to the evening

As a finale, an enthusiastic audience gathered in the Tea Room to listen to poems, again with the railway theme, written by Auden, Betjeman and T.S. Eliot.  These were read with great feeling by Eric Hume, Myra Green, and Maggie Butt.

Three people reading aloud from folders

A trio of poetry readers at Topsham Museum

So, where do we go next year? With 2012 being the year of the Olympics, we’re planning the theme of Sport!

Charles Potter is Audience Development Officer for Topsham Museum.

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.

Guest post: Museums at Night intern Signe Troost takes us behind the scenes at Culture24

‘Yeah, I’m going to be honest with you….. it’s going to be a lot of admin work,’ is what Museums at Night project manager Nick Stockman said when I took on an internship at Culture 24. ‘ But if you want to learn about museums and heritages sites in the UK and what they do, there’s no better place than here.’

To give you a bit of background, I’m a Cultural Heritage student from Amsterdam and my school gave me the opportunity to go abroad for an internship. Museums at Night in Amsterdam has always been a special night for me. I’ve experienced it as a visitor (queuing up at the Rijksmuseum to have a glance at Damian Hirsts’ diamond skull in 2008) and as a volunteer (doing some serious crowd control when the National Ballet performed at the Hermitage Museum Amsterdam in 2009).

But this time I wanted to be more involved with the overall organisation and not in Holland, but in the first country that opened museums to the public.

And so I printed and posted over 500 evaluation forms, updated massive, MASSIVE spreadsheets, tagged 100 events to make them easier to find on the website and learned a lot along the way.

I was amazed by the amount of participating museums. However big or small, they all took the opportunity to do something different with their venue or attract a different audience. I LOVED the idea of the RAF Museum in London to host a Thunderbirds Night, complete with ’60 music and original models from the TV series. And the Doctor Who event at The John Rylands Library! Because who ever said that museums and pop culture don’t go together?

An image from Amsterdam

A picture taken at last year's Amsterdam Museums at Night

My next job is to enter all the data from the 500 returned evaluation forms into the next massive spreadsheet. So just give me a few weeks and I’ll be able to tell you exactly how successful Museums at Night 2011 was!

Signe Troost is a third year student at the Reinwardt Academy in Amsterdam and is keen on working with museums that are experiment with innovative ways to engage their audiences. She hopes to be museum director by the time she turns 50….

Thanks for an amazing Museums at Night campaign!

Museums at Night is over for another year – and wasn’t it amazing? The campaign which has been consuming our every waking thought for months finally culminated in an action-packed weekend of discovery and delight: on Friday, Saturday and Sunday around 457 events took place at 352 venues. This is absolutely fantastic – to stage over 100 more events than last year, in a time of such economic difficulty, is a resounding endorsement of the campaign.

London Canal Museum tweeted, “Museums at Night has been a tremendous success at London Canal Museum, we have had hundreds of visitors!” The Museum of English Rural Life was equally delighted: “Great atmosphere tonight! MERL hasn’t seen anything like this in 60 years! Thanks to the amazing dancers who’ve entertained us!!”

The front of a building at night with words projected onto it

Mew Lab animation projected on to the front of Watford Museum's 18th century facade. Picture courtesy Dave Parker.

We would like to thank all the staff and volunteers from museums, galleries, libraries and heritage sites who staged events – it’s wonderful working with such inspired and imaginative people, who are passionate about bringing their collections to life in new ways. I hope that the capacity-building legacy of the campaign will last throughout the year. If you ran a Museums at Night event this year, please tell us how many visitors came, and how the experience was for you by filling in our venue survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/53KPJ9C

2011 will be the most successful year of the campaign so far – members of the public found it easier than before to find events in their area, and all the visitor feedback we’ve received so far has been incredibly positive. @HelenDuffett tweeted: “Loved it! Went to @ltmuseum and Bank of England Museum. Great initiative!” Meanwhile, @NorwichChamps rejoiced: “Standing on the tower of St John’s Catholic cathedral in Norwich as part of the Museums at Night event. Huzzah!”

If you went to a Museums at Night event, please let us know what you thought by filling in our brief visitor survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/visitorsurveyMuseumsatNight2011

Project manager Nick Stockman and I would like to thank all the hardworking Culture24 staff who helped the campaign to come together, in particular the ever-resourceful Larna Pantrey-Mayer and Ruth Harper. Stephen Bradley built the Museums at Night event-finding widget, while Richard Moss, Ben Miller and the rest of the editorial team wrote numerous articles promoting the campaign. Signe Troost has been a diligent and cheerful campaign intern, while Cath Hume, together with Tom Windsor and Pam Jarvis from Sussex Arts Marketing, are now working on the campaign evaluation.

We’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of media coverage Museums at Night received this year: congratulations to all the venues who got local publicity, and to PR coordinator Pandora George of Bullet PR, who worked incredibly hard to arrange national and regional press, radio and TV coverage.

Thanks to the staff of BBC History Magazine, and everyone who distributed the printed Guides to Museums at Night. We also appreciate the work of photographer Pal Hansen, our photoshoot locations the Horniman Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum, and our fabulous models.

Two children clutching masks, underneath a display of masks

Two of our models discover masks after dark at the Horniman. Image (c) Pal Hansen

We’re very grateful to all our campaign partners for their support: campaign funders the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and Arts Council England; media partner Sky Arts; Visit England; the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; Future Shorts; the National Trust; English Heritage; the Historic Houses Association, the Arts Marketing Association; the Festival of Museums; the Museums Association; and the National Museum Directors’ Conference.

Sky Arts kindly subsidised sleepover tickets at 5 venues around the UK, while Future Shorts curated a short film programme that ran at 11 venues. We’re very grateful to these partners, and hope to collaborate on similar opportunities in future.

Campaign ambassador Lauren Laverne not only spoke movingly about Museums at Night at the launch event, but also penned an enthusiastic article about the campaign for Grazia magazine. Thanks to Historic Royal Palaces and the Kensington Palace staff, WILDWORKS Theatre Company and Blue Strawberry Catering for making the launch such a success!

We’re also very grateful to our competition partners Faber & Faber and the Faber Archive; the Victoria & Albert Museum; Erin O’Connor; Historic Royal Palaces and Lucy Worsley.

I’d like to thank everyone who wrote inspiring guest posts for this blog, connected with us and sent encouraging messages on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and who phoned the office or sent emails to ask me questions about things that I hadn’t made clear. I’d also like to thank Jacqueline Chiffert and the Nuit des Musees team for their encouragement – and my friends and family for their patience!

Finally, Sky Arts sent camera crews to record the action in ten different venues which were staging Museums at Night events: they’re currently editing the footage down to make a 30 minute documentary, which will premiere on June 3 2011 on Sky Arts 2 at 6:30 pm. Watch the trailer here!

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!

Museums at Night – coming soon to TV and radio near you!

Just a quick heads-up about some of the upcoming publicity for Museums at Night that our fantastic PR guru, Pandora George of Bullet PR, has managed to drum up.

Nick recorded a brief interview with Radio 4 this afternoon, and another for Radio Cornwall which will go out at 11pm tonight. I was taken off-guard tonight and ended up recording another for Radio 5 Live, which will go out at around 5AM as part of the Friday morning breakfast show. Nick will be interviewed again for Radio London at 7:25 tomorrow, and will be talking with Ken Livingstone on his Saturday afternoon show.

I’ve already recorded one extended chat with Radio Reverb, the Brighton station, about all the events taking place in Sussex (and my love of Motorhead). And tomorrow afternoon I’ll be in conversation with Radio Devon, along with Dee Martin from Torre Abbey who will be discussing their Live Action Cluedo event!

If anybody else would like to interview us, please contact our PR goddess Pandora on 07729 469220 or email pandora@bulletpr.co.uk. We are both very chatty and would be delighted to discuss any aspect of the campaign! Meanwhile, if you have the chance to be interviewed, that’s great – all we ask is that you try to mention the address of the Museums at Night website, www.museumsatnight.org.uk,

Tomorrow is a big day: I’ll be manning the @Culture24 twitter account and livetweeting along with the ITV Daybreak programme tomorrow morning. The Museums at Night venue the crew will be reporting live from is Explosion! The Museum of Naval Firepower in Gosport. We’re expecting this feature to start at around 7:15 in the morning – so if you’re awake at this shockingly early hour, please do tune in to support the Explosion staff!