Tag Archives: Museums at Night 2014

Museums at Night 2014 stats: the infographic!

We’re delighted to share this infographic showing the top-line statistics for Museums at Night 2014. Thanks again to all the arts and heritage organisations that ran such successful events: it’s brilliant to see how popular the festival is!

Museums at Night 2014 evaluation executive summary

Here are those stats again, if you’d like to quote them:

During Museums at Night 2014, 500 venues ran 700 events.

100,000 visitors made 180,000 visits, with 33,000 people visiting a museum or gallery they’d never been to before.

The events were great: 98% of visitors rated their experience at 7/10 or higher, and 96% of visitors said they now felt inspired to visit more arts and heritage venues.

400,000 people watched the Saturday night BBC2 programme about Museums at Night.

The festival campaign attracted media coverage with an AVE of £3.4 million.

Hurrah!

 

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

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

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

The idea – and the challenge

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

A group of children in a room with a large map

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

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

a medieval woman with a basket

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

Who is the audience?

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

What we did

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

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

A suffragette and banner

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

How we did it

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

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

A Victorian Schoolroom

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

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

Museums Alive poster

On the Night

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

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

A group of children shining torches in a dark museum

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

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

A costumed cook in a historical kichen

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

The Results

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

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

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

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Thanks, Melissa!

If you’d like to write a guest post or share a case study about any aspect of audience development, event planning or marketing in the arts and heritage sector, please email rosie@culture24.org.uk.

Guest Post: Pat Brandwood explains how the Robert Owen Museum reopened during Museums at Night

Our latest guest post comes from Pat Brandwood, Curator of the recently reopened Robert Owen Museum in Newtown.

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Robert Owen was a social visionary and founder of the international co-operative movement, a pioneer of “early learning” and free universal education; and a founding father of socialism – a man who wanted to make the world a better place. At the Robert Owen Museum we are all unpaid volunteers, and have tried hard to restore key items of the Collection, improve the displays and make the museum more welcoming.

Museums at Night came at an opportune time for us in 2 ways:  17 May is Owen’s birthday, and the Museum had been closed for building and safety improvements and was scheduled to re-open in mid-May.

So when Culture24 contacted us about Museums at Night 2014, the first thing I did was contact our friends at the Rochdale Pioneers Museum (who had a successful event in 2013) and steal a few ideas.

A man face to face with a bust

A proud moment from the museum’s history: Tony Benn encountering his hero, Robert Owen (c) Gemma Bowker

Preparations began in March, and we used our AGM to allocate responsibilities and form a small team:

  • Our Publicity Officer was responsible for a series of articles leading up to the event, on local radio and in the local press, as well as the Co-op News.
  • Our Education Officer produced a flyer and a poster which she circulated and called “Night at the Museum”.
  • Invitations were circulated by email and post to friends, schools and businesses.
  • I visited local co-operatives, large and small to invite them and ask for help.  These groups provided us with fantastic food and wine, as well as flowers for a birthday presentation at Owen’s Statue.
  • The Town Council, our partners in the building, were involved at every stage and made sure the building was pristine and ready on the day and issued their own invitations.

We opened on Friday, our first day after a six month closure, to a variety of visitors. These included people who were passing on the way to our local restaurants and pubs, a welcome extension to our usual clientele!

A group of people by a statue with flowers at its feet

The Museum team place flowers around the statue of Robert Owen (c) David Pugh

Saturday was more of a worry because the logistics were more complex, involving everything for the reception arriving for the times advertised on the flyer and a tense moment when the florist was held up by an evening wedding.  But everything went like clockwork, with the exception of the Curator doing a guided tour at 7:30pm – in fact, we had to run guided tours for 4 hours! The publicity had worked, and we had photographers and even our M.P. among our many visitors, young and old.

A mayoress wearing a gold chain

The Mayor visiting Robert Owen Museum (c) David Pugh

We’re a voluntary and independent museum and depend on the goodwill and support of our partners. So it was good to see that the late opening contributed to a relaxing atmosphere, with visitors and helpers enjoying a unique evening activity.

We have received a real boost in our number of volunteers and enthusiasts, with more locals feeling a real sense of ownership in their Museum.  It was a celebration of Newtown as well as Robert Owen, and the building has been renamed The Robert Owen Centre Newtown to reflect this partnership.

Museums at Night was exhausting for us, but also fun.  Next year we are planning a special event with local schools, artists and a small exhibition to reflect Owen’s place in the establishment of free, universal education.  We’ll start planning when the schools return in September!

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A woman in a red cardigan shaking hands with a cardboard Robert OwenI spent my career teaching social and economic history, and moved to Newtown in Powys 8 years ago. I joined the Robert Owen Museum as Education Officer then became Curator in 2009. In November 2013 I received an award from the Co-op Cymru and the Bevan Foundation: in recognition of our work at the Museum I was made Co-operator of the Year.

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Thanks, Pat!

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.

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.

Call for guest posts: share your event planning and marketing case studies!

Do you have a story to tell about how you planned or marketed an event at your venue? Have you taken advantage of Museums at Night to try out a new way of working, or to stage a different type of event, or to bring in a new element?

Singers watched by a crowd in a modern museum

Janette Parris’ musical performed in Cardiff Story Museum (c) Klaus Wehner

Writing a reflective case study can be a great way to talk about your organisation and celebrate the work your team does. You can see examples of previous guest posts here: https://museumsatnight.wordpress.com/tag/guest-post/

This writing opportunity is open all year round to anyone who works or volunteers in an arts or heritage organisation.

A pack of scouts in a museum

Adur Valley Scouts ready for their first ever museum sleepover at Worthing Museum & Art Gallery

The idea of publishing guest blog posts is to showcase lots of different voices from museums, galleries and heritage sites, passing on marketing and event planning ideas to inspire other venues who may be considering taking part for the first time.

  • Do you have any tips for other venues based on your experiences?
  • What worked well?
  • What have you learned – e.g. about your own capacity, about timings, about the most and least successful forms of promotion, about what different audience most appreciate?
  • What would you do differently next time?

A good guest post consists of:

1) 300-400 words, in a chatty, friendly style
2) A couple of photos of visitors exploring your venue, ideally at night, with the photographers’ credit. We always like to put up photos of people having fun at cultural / heritage venues!
3) A couple of lines about yourself, I’m happy to link to your website / Twitter account / LinkedIn etc.
4) A thumbnail-sized photo of you

If you’re interested in writing a guest post, or if you have any questions, please drop me an email at rosie@culture24.org.uk or give me a call on 01273 623336.