Tag Archives: volunteering

Intro to Culture24 and Museums at Night!

I’ve been lucky enough to travel to various heritage sector events over the last 6 weeks, talking about Culture24 and Museums at Night. I wanted to share the resources and a helpful introductory presentation here, so you can see the sort of information I give out and download the handouts for yourself.

Museums Norfolk Development Day: Using events to engage visitors and generate income 

I introduced Culture24’s various services and some of our current initiatives with this one-page Culture24 contact handout.

I explained how museums can get started using Culture24’s DDE database to showcase events and exhibitions, with this one-page introduction to Culture24’s DDE.

Finally, I discussed how even the smallest heritage venues could successfully take part in Museums at Night and attract publicity in a mini-marketing masterclass.

 

SHOWCASE: South East Museum Development conference

A woman smiling on a stand with handouts

Rosie at Brooklands Museum, image courtesy Scott Ramsey Photography

I took part in this fascinating day at historic Brooklands Museum, talking about how museums could take advantage of Culture24’s services, and run successful events for Museums at Night. I was really pleased to meet so many people in person who read my newsletters, and who I’d only had email contact with before!

Museomix

I also took part in the brilliant three-day Museomix hackathon at Derby Silk Mill and Derby Museum & Art Gallery – here are the terrific remixed collection objects the 7 teams developed over the weekend: http://www.museomix.org/en/localisation/derby-2014/#prototypes

As Community Manager I welcomed people who were new to the heritage hackathon experience. I created new content, sourcing stories and interviewing museum staff to provide features for the MuseomixUK Tumblr; helped the teams to post images and thoughts to their own Tumblrs; highlighted interesting digital content from others; and helped with idea generation and prototype development – I’d recommend the experience to anyone!

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.

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.

Museums at Night 2014 internship – join the team!

In 2013, two interns supported the Museums at Night festival team: Holly Parsons and Amy Strike describe their experiences and what they learned. Nick and I are now looking for a new intern to join us for the 2014 festival.

A group of glamorous people standing by a display of ships' figureheads

Museums at Night interns, part of the Culture24 team at the launch of the 2013 festival (c) Aniko Boholy

Museums at Night 2014 internship

Culture24 is looking for a festival intern to join our small and friendly team at our busy Brighton office to support the delivery of the 2014 Museums at Night festival. We work across the arts and heritage sectors to collect, curate and share information about venues, events, exhibitions, resources and collections. There’s more information about Culture24 here: http://weareculture24.org.uk/about-us/

The festival

Museums at Night is the highly successful, annual, nationwide festival when museums, galleries, heritage sites, historic properties, libraries and archives throw open their doors after-hours and do something different to attract audiences. It explodes into life between Thursday 15th and Saturday 17th May 2014.

If you can contribute one day a week between February and June 2014 and have a real interest in expanding your experience in the cultural sector then this will be the post for you. You will work on an exciting and evolving cultural campaign, gaining insights into participation, audience development, PR and evaluation as you work alongside the project’s manager and coordinator.

We expect you to have a good working knowledge of PC based MS Outlook, Word and Excel and the confidence to work independently by email and on the telephone. We will support you with training and supervision, tailoring your time with us to achieve your aspirations and objectives as well as ours.

The successful candidate will significantly develop their office-based skills and widen their knowledge of working in the cultural sector. The experience of working in a coordinating organisation with an overview across the UK arts and heritage sector will help career development and introduce the intern to a wide range of new contacts.

This internship is designed for a person aiming to develop a career in the arts and heritage sector. We have a highly successful record in supporting previous interns in securing such positions following their internships.

This is an office-based position and does not involve working in a museum or gallery.

Download the Person Spec and Role Description (3 page PDF)

Salary: £57.40 / day. This is the Brighton Living Wage, as assessed by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University.

Hours: day per week
Contract: February – June 2014
Area: Brighton

To apply for this position, please email your CV and a covering letter telling us why you are the right person for this job (with reference to the Person Spec and Role Description) to rosie@culture24.org.uk.

Deadline for receipt of application and cover letter: 5pm, Friday 10 January

Applicants invited for interview will be advised by Thursday 16 January. Interviews will be held at the Culture24 office in Brighton during the week commencing  Monday 20 January.

Rosie Clarke
Campaigns Officer, Museums at Night
Direct Line: 01273 623336

http://www.weareculture24.org.uk
http://www.museumsatnight.org.uk
https://museumsatnight.wordpress.com

For more background information, Museums at Night 2012 intern Beth Hogben discussed the key challenges, highlights and learning opportunities from her time at Culture24 in this video:

Museums at Night intern Amy Strike looks back at the 2013 festival

Amy Strike on the Cutty Sark (c) Aniko Boholy

Amy Strike at the Museums at Night launch on the Cutty Sark (c) Aniko Boholy

Six months have passed in the blink of an eye, and I’m on hold waiting to talk to a museum about how their Museums at Night event went. The hold music is Für Elise played on a glockenspiel, which sounds as if somebody on the reception desk is putting on a little music session in a quiet moment. I’m using the time to think back over my internship with Culture24, which has gone so quickly it makes my head spin.

It’s quite hard to remember the day I walked in as a new intern in January. At that point the Museums at Night festival seemed so far away it looked unlikely to ever arrive, like a Dorset steam engine, or a conclusion in a George R.R. Martin novel.

On my first day I was sat at a desk and given a list of the phone numbers of all the museums and galleries in the known world (or at least the parts of it attached to and floating around the UK). This was wonderful, as I had the opportunity to say hello to lots of people in a great number of organisations who were getting excited about Museums at Night. People getting excited about things happening in arts and heritage sites is exactly what made me want to work in events in the first place – so calling several hundred people who feel exactly the same way was a wonderful way to get my internship rolling.

I really enjoyed helping with the Connect10 competition, and hearing all of the imaginative ideas that the artists – and the venues hoping to win them – had proposed.

It was brilliant to be on the scene when we found out that we would indeed be sailing aboard the Cutty Sark for the Museums at Night launch. There may be better places to hold a launch than a 19th century tea clipper but I can’t think of one. There may also be funnier sights than seeing the staff of Culture24 dressed in witches’ noses and encouraged to pursue “poor Tam” to his doom around the figureheads, but again, nothing springs to mind… In all seriousness, though, this was a great education in event planning and I learned a great deal about the work and negotiation that goes on behind the scenes.

When the Museums at Night festival finally arrived, everybody seemed to be in about ten places at once. Members of the Culture24 team would stumble into the office each morning of the Museums at Night festival weekend with an improbable, distracted air muttering about pipistrelles, 18th century murders, cocktails, sculptures made out of plastic bottles, and taxidermy alpacas. I manned the phoneline at Museums at Night HQ for one of the big days, which was slightly nerve-wracking. I loved the festival events I attended: I walked with bats at Hatchlands Park and then raced up to London for an Elemental Treasure Hunt.

strings of plastic bottles filled with rolled up coloured paper

Julia Vogl’s Bottle Project at Discovery Museum (c) Nick Stockman

It has been a great six months and it’s only really in retrospect that I’ve realised how many people I’ve had the chance to meet and talk with along the way who were working in museums, galleries and heritage sites.

 I’ve attended a National Trust conference; been up to my elbows in Twitter; partied on a tea clipper; been swept upon by bats and conversed silently with a jar of moles at the Grants Museum. I have also learned a great deal along the way about the arts and heritage scene across the country, digital and social media marketing, event administration and the work involved in promoting and putting together an amazing event.

amy Strike (c) Andrew RoachAmy Strike has an MA in English Literature from Sussex University. She is a professional artist and has a strong interest in museums and galleries. She plans to pursue a career in arts administration while continuing to make her own art work which can be  seen on her website, www.amystrike.com. Find out more about Amy through her LinkedIn profile.

Museums at Night intern Holly Parsons shares what she’s learnt

crowd beneath figureheads

The Culture24 team at the Museums at Night 2013 launch party on the Cutty Sark – Holly’s on the left in the blue dress. Photo courtesy Aniko Boholy.

Wow! Six months have gone by so quickly. It feels like only yesterday that I walked in, an innocent and nervous intern on her first day. So much has changed: I now leave Culture24 with greater work experience and the essential, elusive office experience so many jobs require. But what exactly have I learnt?

Firstly, I really appreciated the opportunity to work in an office: something I have never done before, yet some of the jobs I was applying for required office experience. Having spent time in this busy environment with my lovely and slightly alternative Culture24 colleagues, I now feel I could work in any office.

From looking up event details and talking to museum staff on the phone and over email, I’ve also learnt a lot about museums across the UK. On my first day I was given the task of calling museums to promote the Connect10 competition, and spoke to museum staff in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England. Not only did the change of accents disorientate me but it was just immense to be talking to people across the country. Those of you who spoke to me on the phone that day may have noticed how nervous I was – it’s amazing how this does not affect me as much any more, and it now seems natural to pick up the phone for a lovely chat with museum staff from the far reaches of the country.

Part of my work here has involved using some computer programs which I’d never heard of before, let alone used. Beyond Excel (which I now feel I should have a degree in) I have learnt to use the Highrise customer relationship management system, Wufoo to retrieve competition submissions, and Culture24’s Direct Data Entry system to work on event listings.

My social networking skills have also been put to use, using Twitter to promote festival events, Storify to track conversations about Museums at Night and WordPress to publish blog posts.

The key thing I have learnt is about the importance of marketing. Through working with thousands of photos, I now understand the types of images that are best for museum publicity. I have also improved my communication skills by writing blog posts and tweets.

Overall my time with Culture24 has been brilliant: I’ve met some lovely people; learnt lots of transferable skills which I can apply to future jobs; and most importantly I now know about an unbelievable number of UK arts and heritage organisations, which will make me invaluable at any museums pub quiz.

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A girl in blue smiling

Holly our intern

Holly Parsons studied History and Politics followed by Heritage and Museum Studies at the University of Portsmouth. She lives in Brighton and has a keen interest in museums, volunteering in several and visiting as many as she can.

Now she is leaving Culture24, Holly plans to carry on her current museum work while seeking paid museum employment. Find out more about Holly through her LinkedIn profile.  —————————————————————————————————-

Guest post: Marketing case study from Rebecca Clay at the Museum of Army Flying

Our latest guest post is by Rebecca Clay from the Museum of Army Flying! Rebecca tells us a bit more about the museum’s plans for a late night behind-the-scenes tour of this very special venue…

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The Museum of Army Flying is a medium sized military museum between Andover and Salisbury. It houses a range of Army aircraft, and is a charitable trust that employs a close knit team of professionals to conserve and communicate its incredible collection.

Programming for specific audiences

This time last year, after being in post for about a month, it became obvious to me that two target audiences would benefit most from an events programme at the Museum of Army Flying: Family and Community and Traditional Culture Vultures.

I had experience of running evening and afternoon events in previous employment positions, and knew that if marketed correctly they could be incredibly successful and rewarding. With this in mind I planned a two year programme of events to tie in with anniversaries and seasonal occasions.

One of the events I really wanted to run was a Culture24 Museums at Night event, specifically a behind-the-scenes tour that would give the ‘die hard’ fans of the museum everything they could dream of.

Entitled ‘The Curator’s Cupboard’, I wanted this event to open up some of the unseen treasures of our collections, including items from World War One flying aces, a sure fire hit with our enthusiast audience.

A poster for an event with images of wartime aircraft

Poster promoting the Curator’s Cupboard Museums at Night event

Overcoming challenges and adding value

One challenge that we’ll face by running a behind-the-scenes, out-of-hours event is the restrictions that have to be placed on numbers. This, coupled with the costs of keeping the museum open after hours, means that we have to charge more than we have for our previous events.

However, this limitation actually had a positive effect for our team, as we plotted together how to make it bigger and better, heaping added value and once-in-a-lifetime experiences into the event to ensure that people weren’t frightened off by the price tag.

This included planning a series of mini-talks around the museum by veteran pilots and experts about the different aircraft we have on display. One of these will be about our experimental aircraft, which are super quirky and a definite crowd pleaser.

A unique selling point – “I’ve flown that one!”

A remarkable bit of good fortune struck when one of our volunteers mentioned he thought he had flown two of the aircraft on display in the museum. I stress that he had not only flown the aircraft type but the actual aircraft on display (he checked the tail numbers against his log book) so he can give visitors first hand knowledge about our aircraft during their working life.

blue helicopter

Army Helicopter

Publicity tips

To publicise the event I have gone all out – well, as all out as you can go without a budget! The press release has gone out and has already been featured in some of our local newspapers. I will also issue a photocall invitation to local press photographers, so the publicity will hopefully have a life even after the event takes place.

I also issue posters and leaflets for every event and send them to local libraries, museums and Tourist Information Centres. My top tip for getting radio coverage is to upload all your events onto the radio station’s calendar on their website; they’ll often mention them if they get a chance.

To say we are really looking forward to the event is an understatement – I often get more excited by our objects than the public!

Here’s to Museums at Night!

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smiling ladyRebecca Clay has worked at the Museum of Army Flying as Marketing and Audience Development for nearly a year. Previously she worked in Marketing and Project Officer roles for Creswell Crags in North Nottinghamshire (currently shortlisted for World Heritage Status).

Rebecca was awarded her CIM Professional Diploma in Marketing in 2010, and also has an Honours degree in Cultural Heritage from the University of Manchester. She is a self-professed geek interested in all things web, particularly WordPress websites and social media.

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Thanks, Rebecca! If you’re reading this and you have an interesting story to tell or case study to share about planning or marketing after-hours events at your arts or heritage venue, I’d love to publish your guest posts as well. Please get in touch at rosie@culture24.org.uk.