Tag Archives: performance

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.

Partnership opportunity: work with a voluntary arts group!

We’re delighted to announce our latest partnership for Museums at Night 2015: we’re working together with Voluntary Arts, organisers of the annual Voluntary Arts Week!

In previous years, we’ve connected artists and authors with museums, and we’ve been delighted to see some terrific event partnerships springing up between local voluntary arts groups and cultural and heritage organisations.

A group of musicians in a historic house

A jazz band prepare to play in a historic house. Picture courtesy Voluntary Arts

However, we really wanted to widen the opportunity to all arts and heritage organisations who’d like the chance to link up with a local creative or performing group to collaborate on interesting joint events as part of the festival. Voluntary Arts Week is all about giving these groups the opportunity to showcase their practice to new audiences, so this is an ideal partnership.

I was interviewed by Cassandra from Voluntary Arts Scotland about our hopes for this partnership: read on to find out the cinematic guilty pleasure which I’d love to recreate in a gallery! http://voluntaryartsweek.org/creative-collaborations/

Why not take advantage of this opportunity to discover which voluntary arts organisations exist in your local area, reach out to them, and find a way of collaborating on a Museums at Night event?

Kelly Donaldson from Voluntary Arts Scotland explains more:

Voluntary arts groups, like museums, come in many shapes, sizes and genres. From amateur dramatics companies to knitting circles, choirs to embroidery groups. The one thing they all have in common, is passion. Nobody pays them to do it, they meet, share and create purely ‘for the love of it’ (which, in case you didn’t know, is the original definition of ‘amateur’).

By connecting with a local voluntary arts group, and working with them on a Museums at Night event, museums and galleries can come to life in a whole new way. Imagine a dance group drawing a crowd outside your venue, a choir singing in your foyer, a drama club creating a short scene inspired by your exhibits, or a painting group displaying their creations in your café.

A Sikh children's choir in a gallery

Gurdwara youth choir performing at GoMA, Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art

Imagine that and a myriad of other ways your spaces could be enriched by a voluntary arts group, because the possibilities are indeed endless.

Not only could it attract new audiences to your venue, but the groups themselves (and their families and friends) are potential new visitors. Events such as a flashmob bursting unexpectedly into song inside a museum are also a great way to engage your local media.

The May Museums at Night festival happens during Voluntary Arts Week, an annual celebration of cultural participation run by Voluntary Arts. Throughout the week, local cultural groups will be showcasing their wares and encouraging new people to discover the joy of taking part.

Museums at Night is the perfect vehicle to help make that happen – whilst boosting your venue’s profile at the same time. Any events taking place that week will also benefit from double publicity, through the Voluntary Arts Week website and a range of social media.

To find out how your venue could hook up with a local voluntary arts group, contact your closest Voluntary Arts representative and get ready to make magic.

Who is your Voluntary Arts representative? 

England

Laraine Winning – Development Officer Coordinator (England)
Email:  Laraine@vaengland.org.uk 

Ireland (North and Republic)

Emma Whitehead – Development Officer (Northern Ireland & Republic of Ireland)
Email: emma@vaireland.org / Phone: 07818 032 718

Scotland

Cassandra Barron – Development Officer (Scotland)
Email: cass@vascotland.org.uk  /  Phone: 0131 561 7333

Wales

Gwenan Davies – Information Officer (Wales)
Email: gwenan@vaw.org.uk / Phone: 07825 109594

What would a voluntary arts Museums at Night event be like?

It may mean giving a community choir space to perform, or inviting a group of guerrilla knitters to “yarnbomb” your gardens, or collaborating with artists or creative writers to offer a hands-on workshop inspired by your venue or collections … or something else we haven’t thought of before!

This could also lead to longer-term collaborations and partnership working within communities, helping your organisation to broaden your offer, discover new ideas and ways of presenting your spaces and collections, and connect with new audiences through creative art forms.

Free information packs

We also collaborated on these handy information packs full of case studies about successful creative collaborations to inspire you!

Museums at Night venues: For more information and guidance on how to involve voluntary arts groups in your Museums at Night event, including tips on how to find groups near you and inspiring case studies, download the Museums at Night information pack here.

Scottish Festival of Museums venues: For Scotland-specific information and guidance about working with voluntary arts groups, download the Festival of Museums information pack here.

Voluntary Arts groups: Curious about collaborating with cultural and heritage organisations? Download our top tips on working with cultural venues here.

Interview with Rosie

I spoke to Cassandra from Voluntary Arts Scotland about our hopes for this partnership: read on to find out the cinematic guilty pleasure which I’d love to recreate in a gallery! http://voluntaryartsweek.org/creative-collaborations/

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.

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: Phillippa Heath on the student panel running a 1951 Vintage Night at MERL

In todays guest post, Phillippa Heath, Public Programmes Manager at the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), talks about how their Museums at Night event this year has been handed over to the students to run.


For Museums at Night the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) is going back to its roots by celebrating the Museum’s foundation and running a 1951 Vintage Night. The event which will be held on Saturday, 17th May will include live music, dancing, stalls, craft & vintage cocktails.

The difference this year is that we have handed over the reins to a group of students!

Developing a Student Steering Panel

Our Museums at Night events have always embraced the ethos which underpins the festival – to encourage new audiences into museums and galleries – and this year we wanted to run an event which would focus on one particular group of visitors we are keen to encourage to visit more: University students. As a University Museum we work with students in many ways academically, but they are very much underrepresented in our audience profile for events.

This was confirmed by visitor research carried out whilst preparing the Activity Plan for our recently submitted ‘Our Country Lives’ Heritage Lottery project bid. As a result, we have identified students as one of key target audiences for future activity.

Looking down at a group of feet in 1950s shoes

Modelling vintage style shoes at MERL Reading. Photo courtesy Museum of English Rural Life.

In order to test the water and see what it takes to create successful student event, we have recruited the help of a Student Steering Panel for our Museums at Night event. They are a group of incredibly passionate and enthusiastic individuals who have been involved at every stage of the organisation and planning of the event.

History student Lucy Reddy (@indianacroft) who is leading on our social media said “I’m excited about reviving the fun spirit of the 1950’s for one night and giving students the chance to have an alternative evening in a setting that will definitely be a talking point! We’re still offering those timeless essentials that we all love – food, drinks and dancing – but finally there’s an acceptable reason pull out those petticoats or polka dots and Jive all night!”

A group of people standing in a museum looking at the camera

The student panel in the Museum, photo courtesy Museum of English Rural Life.

Developing event planning and management skills

Since January the panel has met every two weeks and we have been joined by guest speakers from the Museum and the local community who have shared their expertise of events management and planning, from marketing to the specifics of running Vintage events.

The meetings have been facilitated by myself and Rob Davies, our Volunteer Coordinator, but as far as possible we have left the decisions up to the students. In order to run the event effectively, the students divided themselves into different groups with different areas of responsibility including marketing, entertainment, catering, decorations and props, research and operations.

Two women sitting at a table with a red and white spotty table cloth, writing on paper

Two members of the panel at a meeting, photo courtesy Museum of English Rural Life

Juliet Wilson, who has been researching the first objects the museum acquired in 1951, says: “I’m really looking forward to showing off MERL in a different light, using the first acquisitions to tell the story of the development of such an amazing museum…alongside drinks and dancing!”

To share ideas and to keep in touch in between meetings, the panel members have set up a Facebook group which has proved to be a great method of communication. This is particularly important as the students are continuing to work on the event despite having dispersed across the country for the Easter vacation.

We have had a lot of fun along the way. Our most recent venture was recording a promotional video for the event.

Members of the Student Panel came clad in their 1950s frocks and, thanks to donated props from local businesses Alexandra Vintage and Frock’n’Roll, they worked with Rob Davies to use the Museum spaces and props to develop a storyline for the trailer. We even managed to rope our Assistant Curator and Operations Manager into learning to dance!

Men and women dancing together

Dr Ollie Douglas, Assistant Curator and Mat Binks, Operations Manager getting a dance lesson. Photo courtesy Museum of English Rural Life

We hope that this event will be the first of many that we work on with the student panel. We have learnt a lot about what students want out of an event and how they choose which events to go to and we hope that the experience has been useful for the students too.

The collaboration has been great so far and we are now very much looking forward to the event itself!

Further details are available on our website at http://www.reading.ac.uk/merl/whatson/merl-specialevents.aspx


Woman smiling with dark hairPhillippa Heath is the Public Programmes Manager at the Museum of Rural Life.

 

 


Thank you, Phillippa!

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: Ella Lewis-Collins on a night of drama at the Jerwood Gallery

Our latest guest post comes from Ella Lewis-Collins, and looks at how a change of plans meant the Jerwood Gallery had to rethink their Museums at Night event idea … and what they’ll be offering visitors instead.

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Last year, the Jerwood Gallery won the Chapman Brothers in the Connect10 competition for an event during the Museums at Night festival. Our evening with the Chapmans consisted of a party with a giant game of consequences.

Adults drawing on a large piece of paper on the ground

Jake Chapman leading Exquisite Corpse drawing session at the Jerwood Gallery (c) Pete Jones

Participants made hideous, amusing and often obscene ‘exquisite corpses’ on 6 foot pieces of paper, passing them around to strangers to complete, with Jake Chapman jumping in and helping people add weird and wonderful details to their creations.

A group of people in an art gallery looking at a large drawing

Visitors looking at an Exquisite Corpse artwork with Jake Chapman (c) Pete Jones

This was so much fun that we decided we had to go for another artist in the competition this year. We picked the photographer Spencer Tunick with the hope of bringing him to Hastings for a mass participation nude shoot on Hastings fishing beach.

Our campaign to win Spencer was one that got lots of support – the wonderful people of Hastings and beyond got behind the ‘Vote Jerwood, Vote Hastings’ campaign and we even had a flash mob strip completely naked on Hastings beach to help promote the vote, which made international news!

Nude flashmob on Hastings Beach, image courtesy Ciaran McCrickard / Connors

Nude flashmob on Hastings Beach, image courtesy Ciaran McCrickard / Connors

Despite almost doubling the number of votes that we got last year, it sadly wasn’t to be and George House Gallery, Folkestone won Spencer. After we found out that we hadn’t won Spencer, we didn’t want the opportunity of doing something for Museums at Night to pass us by. The tricky thing was working out to do instead.

Devising a new event idea

A few members of the team got together and we decided what we wanted was to create a gallery experience which allowed visitors to explore the gallery in a completely new way. We wanted it to have a distinctive evening atmosphere and we wanted people to remember ‘that time we went to the Jerwood Gallery’. Essentially something atmospheric, unique and creative. So then we thought of the Baron…

A man in a hat with his shadow silhouetted

Baron Gilvan (c) Kipperklock Photography

The Baron is a wonderful, slightly dark and magical character who we had the pleasure of working with when we celebrated the gallery’s first birthday in March last year. He transformed the gallery’s studio into ‘The Baron’s Art School’ for the weekend and took families on a magical journey – following the character of ‘Christina the Astonishing’ in a performance workshop incorporating painting, puppetry and animation. The event sold out and was hugely popular with both children and adults.

We approached the Baron’s creator, Chris Gilvan-Carwright, to see if he would like to work for us on a special commission for Museums at Night this year. We met with Chris and Isobel Smith of Grist to the Mill, a puppeteer who often collaborates with the Baron on his performance projects, at the gallery.

Tips on working with performance artists

It’s hugely important when planning these sort of performative events that those who are delivering the performance can get a sense of the space. This is not only for practical reasons but because so often the space and the art on the walls provides new inspiration.

Chris came up with the idea of running a Baron’s Art School in which participants journey into the paintings, transporting the audience into another world. This provides the audience with a completely new way of looking at and experiencing art in the gallery; the activities will also make them active participants rather than passive observers to the works on the walls.

A character with a funnel on his head performing with small objects

The Baron’s Art School (c) Kipperklock Photography

I really believe if you find the right performer, then the best thing to do is trust them with the development of the performance or the event. Whilst practicalities need to be considered by the venue, it’s usually best to allow the artists to work and get their creative juices flowing – the event will be all the better as a result.

Marketing the mysterious 

In terms of marketing the event, I wanted to convey a sense of excitement and anticipation. I did this through providing snippets of enticing information without giving too much away. There’s more excitement if there’s a bit of mystery!

I always try to listen to the words that the artist or performer uses to describe their work in order to help me develop the marketing copy. Sometimes even writing down verbatim (or recording – with their permission) what they say in planning meetings can be incredibly useful, as their passion and enthusiasm for what they do really comes across and helps to enthuse the audience too.

Images are also hugely important. People find it a lot easier to imagine themselves at an event if they have a visual sense of what it will be like. This can be tricky if a similar event hasn’t taken place before, however some sort of image conveying the atmosphere of the event is essential. Fortunately Chris had a number of great shots from previous events with the Baron, which we were able to use.

I think this year’s Museums at Night with the Baron will be a magical one. Our event – The Baron’s Art School presents Bringing Painting to Life – will take place on Friday 16 May. Tickets cost £15, and you can find out more about the event here: http://www.jerwoodgallery.org/whatson/events/79/the-barons-art-school

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A girl wearing a hatElla Lewis-Collins is the Communications and Marketing Manager at Jerwood Gallery. She joined the gallery in January 2012, prior to the gallery opening in March 2012. Before this Ella worked at FEI, an arts consultancy company. She has an MA in the Reception of the Classical World from UCL. You can follow Ella on Twitter @ellalc, and the Jerwood Gallery @jerwoodgallery.

 

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Thanks, Ella!

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: Kerry Whitehouse from The Infirmary, Worcester on dramatising medicine for Museums at Night

In our latest guest post, graduate trainee Kerry Whitehouse talks about how The Infirmary, Worcester is engaging university students with the dramatic element of Medicine, as they rehearse for their Museums at Night performances.

Tables with cabinets displaying an assortment of artifacts. Information on the walls to read and a set of headphones resting on a table.

The Infirmary’s interactive exhibition at the University of Worcester’s City Campus combining history, science, art and technology

We’re a medical museum in the heart of Worcester, housed in the former Worcester Royal Infirmary, and now owned by the University. How can we engage their students with our collections and stories?

One way is to include them.

How we involve drama students

The Infirmary is very pleased to be working with the drama department from the university to deliver one of their course modules. ‘Theatre, Real Lives  and History’ is a module that enables the students to develop their skills within the context of The Infirmary and accompanying historic rooms, such as the hospital’s former Board Room and Chapel.

Objects and information from the gallery inspire the students’ creative processes as they immerse themselves into characters from the hospital’s past.

The groups will then pitch their proposals in a ‘Dragons Den’ style presentation to determine which group will be involved in the Infirmary at Night Museums at Night performance.

This week, the students are working on First Person Interpretation, so they have cast themselves back into the characters displayed in the museum. I ventured out of the office today and spoke to the groups to get their ideas and thoughts on how it was all going.

A group of students working around a table

Drama students Isaac Alcock, Beth Crump, Jade Senior-Moulavi, Hannah Dhimaan and Kelsea Braddish researching for their performance

Group work

Each group was working in different ways. One group in the chapel had decided to sit around the table first to discuss how they were going to work and were assigning characters. The other two groups were engaged in acting and were busy rehearsing some of their scenes.

One group I spoke to were rehearsing in the museum, which is based in a former hospital ward. They used some of the museum’s dressing up costumes to help get them into character.

This group had already decided which characters to portray and when asked why, one of the students who was portraying Charles Hastings (Founder of the British Medical Association) said that he felt he had an empathy to the man, as it was thought that he had become a doctor because his father had been injured in an accident and had become disabled.

This group had opted for a ‘time-travel’ theme, with the past meeting the present. I watched as Matron Mary Herbert interacted with a present-day tour guide taking them around what was once her ward.

A collection of drama students. A woman dressed as a nurse talking to another in a white doctors coat. A woman with a bloodied apron stands behind them between two men.

Drama group getting into costumes: note the bloodied apron (L-R) Nurse Lucy Towns, Jeremy Weighill, Hannah Ives, Christopher Lopez, Doctor Kate Adams

The goals of the performance

When I asked this group on what their goals were for the performance for Museums at Night, they told me that their main aim was to engage a younger audience, by educating and entertaining them.

While I was observing the class, one group offered to show what they had been working on with the rest of the class. When asked at the end of the piece “How did it make you feel as an audience?” the replies were: ‘It was fun’, ‘It made me feel a little tense’ and ‘I loved how it was interactive’.

The performance itself is in its infancy, but after watching what the groups were working on and how they were working together, I’m really excited to see the end result!

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Kerry Whitehouse is a graduate trainee working with both the George Marshall Medical Museum and The Infirmary in publicity and marketing.

Follow the Infirmary on Facebook for more updates ahead of their Museums at Night performances.

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Thanks, Kerry!

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.