Tag Archives: volunteering

Introducing new Museums at Night festival intern Amy Strike

black and white photo of Amy Strike

Hello, my name is Amy Strike and I am one of the Culture24 interns for this year.

I am a book artist, which involves sculpting ships and castles and dirigibles out of books. I am also an active member of the JAG Gallery and a founder member of the Enter the Clutter art collective, an organisation formed to discover and promote opportunities for artists in Brighton. I am currently making a tree out of books for the 13 Women Exhibition.

It has already been a very exciting start. Last week I travelled up to Oxford to attend a trade show at the National Trust Bringing Places To Life conference. This was held at Heythrop Park, a very beautiful house in the Oxfordshire countryside. The longest part of the journey was the trip from one end of the Heythrop Park driveway to the other. Luckily for us, the taxi driver did not let us “just get out at the gate and pop up the driveway on foot,” otherwise we would probably still be climbing it now.

The trade show went very well, with plenty of opportunities to talk to people and venues about Museums at Night. The nicest thing was the number of people who came up to tell us that they knew about Museums at Night, had been involved before and thought it was a great and exciting event. We also spoke to lots of new people, who were really interested in getting involved with an event.

I am really looking forward to the rest of my internship, and to seeing some of the amazing events planned for May. I may be talking to you on the phone soon!

Introducing new Museums at Night festival intern Holly Parsons

A girl in blue smilingHello, my name is Holly and I will be one of the Culture24 interns for this year.

I have previously worked in museums in Portsmouth and Brighton.

While studying in Portsmouth I worked at Portsmouth City Museum. My role involved updating the catalogue of early twentieth century postcards, updating the details of their description, postmark and printers. This was a long and gruelling task, however, over time withdrawal symptoms have kicked in and I now have an unhealthy obsession for anything to do with postcards and stamps.

Since moving to Brighton I have become a volunteer for the Old Police Cells, which are located under Brighton Town Hall. I started as a tour guide but soon became the ‘Twitterbook Monkey’ and organised our bid for Museum Accreditation. You can find out what we’re doing by following @PolicecellsBri on Twitter or joining our Facebook page www.facebook.com/OldPoliceCells.

In future I would love to work in a museum. I particularly enjoy tour guiding, where I get to have fun talking to the visitors and discussing objects and issues, and working in the back rooms finding hidden objects in the collection and updating the catalogue.

I am really looking forward to working with Culture24 on the Museums at Night festival because it’s an opportunity to learn about a wide variety of museums and collections. I may be contacting you on the phone soon: I look forward to helping you!

Museums at Night volunteer intern opportunity

The Museums at Night team (myself and Project Manager Nick Stockman) are looking for a volunteer intern to help us coordinate the Museums at Night 2013 festival. Would this opportunity be right for you? Please take a look and share it with anyone else who may be interested.

Museums at Night logo

Museums at Night festival seeks volunteer for internship 1 day a week

We’re looking for an enthusiastic and friendly person, with good communication skills, experience of using Microsoft Office, and a genuine interest in culture and heritage and/or arts festival and events management.

The placement will last 6 months from January – June 2013, and we’ll ask you to volunteer for one day each week. You will be working together with one other intern.

You’ll learn about arts marketing and audience development, and support the festival’s PR campaign, working with our media library of images and getting involved in our launch event. Of course, you’ll go along to report from a Museums at Night event during the festival. You’ll also help out with the evaluation of the festival, seeing the project through from beginning to end.

The tasks involved in this unpaid role include general administration, using our databases and CRM system and updating Museums at Night social media (blog, Twitter etc) – we would give you full training in all these programmes.

The internship is at Culture24’s office in Brighton, alongside our friendly and supportive staff: priority will be given to applicants from Brighton and the surrounding area.

By spending time with our team, you’ll pick up a lot about online publishing and the UK museum and gallery sector, which we hope will provide useful experience to further your future career plans.

Former intern Beth discusses her placement at Culture24

In the green room backstage at the Culture Matters conference in Norwich last week, I caught up with former Museums at Night intern Beth Hogben and asked her to share her experiences of working on the 2012 festival. The placement has made a real difference to her career:

“I’ve just started working for Visit England as a Project Officer – if I hadn’t worked as an intern with Culture24, I probably wouldn’t have had as much to say in my interview, and got the post!”

Watch the video to learn more about the challenges, highlights and learning opportunities that arose for Beth as a result of her internship at Culture24:

Your next step

If this could be the right opportunity for you, and you’d like more information, please email a copy of your CV to rosie@culture24.org.uk, and I’ll give you a call next week.

The deadline to apply is 5pm on Wednesday 12 December.

Resource roundup, a volunteering toolkit, and an interview with Rosie

It’s a bright sunny day here at C24 Towers in Brighton, and I’ve got some useful links and resources to share!

My three tips for appealing to teenage audiences

I’ll be speaking at the Culture Matters conference in Norwich next week, and was interviewed about Museums at Night for their website. Take a look, and discover my three tips for attracting teenage audiences to museum events!

Toolkit to help small organisations support volunteers

Voluntary Arts and Volunteering England have published a new toolkit to help small and medium-sized organisations improve the support they offer volunteers.  The Arts Council England-funded toolkit uses a wide range of best practice quality assurance processes and procedures, including those that underpin Investors in Volunteers.

Videos: how arts ambassadors can attract new audiences

Helen Ball from the Arts Marketing Association has recorded a series of short screencasts about arts ambassadors, and how they can work with arts venues to engage local communities. She shares several case studies, and the different models would be just as useful for museums and heritage venues as for galleries and theatres.

Music in museums – it’s been happening for years!

A brass band playing amid a crowd in a dimly lit gallery

Bob and Roberta Smith fill the Towner Gallery with music for Museums at Night 2012 – photo courtesy Jane Finnis

And finally, an encouraging quote from Still Digging, by energetic adventurer and magnificently moustached archaeologist Sir Mortimer “Rik” Wheeler, on one of his audience development initiatives. While working at the Museum of London in the 1930s, he brought in a series of classical music concerts sponsored by Makower:

“These concerts were a great success. The audience consisted of an astonishing medley of critics, music students, tradesmen, guardsmen with their girls, passers-by and pilgrims of all sorts.

They stood or sat about on the stairs or balconies or vacant patches of floor, without any special provision; indeed the slight discomfort contributed to the sense of informality and adventure.

No stage separated listener from performer, and the resultant sense of intimacy gave an unusual quality to the scene.

‘But what has music to do with a museum?’ asked the caviler.

‘A museum, my dear sir, is a home of the muses. Why should we turn Euterpe into the storm?’”

Indeed – let this inspire everyone considering programming musical or performance events for Museums at Night 2013!

Battling volunteers save the day at the Helicopter Museum

Nick and I are busily working on our evaluation of this year’s festival, and some fascinating stories are emerging from venues explaining what happened behind the scenes of their Museums at Night events!

I was intrigued to receive an email from Lee Mills, General Manager of the Helicopter Museum in Weston-super-Mare, asking “If there is an award for museum volunteers going beyond the call of duty for Museums at Night, please can I nominate my team?

Each year for Museums at Night, the Helicopter Museum combines their annual Flight Simulator Convention with some kind of re-enactment event. This year they’d decided to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War.

But what exactly did Lee’s team do that was so significant? Lee explains:

The event itself was a huge success and will never be forgotten (probably for all the wrong reasons).

A soldier crawls through a smoky field with a gun

Just another day for a regular re-enactor … or is it? (c) Helicopter Museum

As you know we staged a Falklands re-enactment on the Saturday.

We had all the pyrotechnics in place, the Argentine dressed re-enactors were here in costume, we were just waiting for the British re-enactment group.

soldiers with old helicopters amid clouds of smoke

Pyrotechnics create an atmospheric setting for a military reenactment (c) Helicopter Museum

And then – on the day – they cancelled on us. NO BRITISH TROOPS in a Falklands re-enactment!

So, in the greatest sense of “the show must go on”, myself and the museum volunteers (who were luckily all dressed up in camouflage costume for the event) took a crash course in how to work the dummy guns.

Reenactors playing British soldiers with guns

The costumed volunteers bravely clutch their weapons as smoke drifts across the battlefield (c) Helicopter Museum

We then ran the gauntlet of smoke grenades, pyrotechnic explosions, firing caps and overhead mortar fire to capture the Argentine gun emplacement in front of a crowd of over 400 people.

A soldier with a helicopter

Would you have guessed that this soldier in deep concentration was a plucky museum volunteer? (c) Helicopter Museum


Like I said it will never be forgotten.

Wow! What a story. Thanks for sharing it, Lee, and congratulations to your redoubtable volunteers!

If you involved volunteers in your Museums at Night event, like 71% of the participating venues we surveyed, do you have a story to tell about the difference they made? Email me: rosie@culture24.org.uk!

(NB. I’m keen to showcase all kinds of stories from the arts and heritage sector here on the blog – your volunteers don’t need to be doing anything as epic or dramatic as running the gauntlet of smoke grenades, pyrotechnic explosions, firing caps and overhead mortar fire to capture an Argentine gun emplacement. Can anyone top this?)

Guest post: Katherine Biggs presents Kew Bridge Steam Museum’s candlelight Museums at Night debut

Our latest guest post comes from Katherine Biggs, Education Officer at Kew Bridge Steam Museum in London.


Saturday 19th May will mark Kew Bridge Steam Museum’s first foray into Museums at Night. This isn’t say to that we haven’t had dark and spooky night-time tours before, but there is something different about organising an evening as part of a much wider series of events.

The feeling of partnership with other museums throwing their doors open for night-time exploration, and the excitement at what some other sites are doing has really inspired us to create something extra special.

A corridor illuminated with red light

Corridor leading into the atmospheric interior of the museum after hours (c) Kew Bridge Steam Museum

The question was how best to show off our towering steam engines.  What would inspire visitors to come and have a peek inside the museum after hours?

Candles, was our answer. Lots of candles. We’ll have the steam engines up and running as visitors explore, which will cast some pretty spectacular shadows from the candlelight. And we’re running torchlight trails for our younger visitors, which should add to the eerie lighting effects.

An industrial wheel lit up behind bars

Engines illuminated at night (c) Kew Bridge Steam Museum

The event is hugely reliant on our expert volunteers who will run the machines and guide the visitors. Luckily their passion for the museum is second to none, so they will be dragging people from the street into the museum if needs be!

Two men looking at en engine

Volunteers with one of the museum’s mighty engines (c) Sukkin Pang

Our limited budget means that marketing is heavily dependent on spreading the word through the local community (oh, the joys of flyering in the rain!)

Overall we have tried to create a family-friendly event, Steam Engines by Candlelight, that we would all really want to go to. Now we have to sit back and hope that others agree come Saturday night…


portrait shot of woman

Kath Biggs

Katherine Biggs is the Education Officer at Kew Bridge Steam Museum, and also works as a freelance educator at other sites including the British Museum and SeaCity Museum, Southampton. www.kathbiggs.com


Thanks, Kath – best of luck to you and your team this weekend!

If you’d like to write a guest post about any aspect of event planning or marketing for arts and heritage venues, please contact me on 01273 623336 or email rosie@culture24.org.uk.

Guest Post: Lindsey Braidley on Bath’s Museums at Night event planning with students

Our latest guest post comes from Lindsey Braidley, Learning and Programmes Co-ordinator for Heritage Services at Bath & North East Somerset Council. Lindsey describes how her team organised their Museums at Night event in collaboration with local college students.


Since 2008 we’ve worked with our local Museums Group to organise joint marketing, and as a group we have also planned a couple of afternoon events in a historic square or a new shopping centre to encourage evening visitors.

2 boys with a pestle and mortar at a Roman bath

Children enjoying late night fun at the Roman Baths in 2011 (c) Bath & North East Somerset Council

In 2012 the Roman Baths decided to try something new.  This year we are working with Foundation Degree Students from Bath Spa University to plan and run our Museums at Night event.

To start them off thinking we outlined what sort of events we had run in the past.  Then we gave them some simple details we couldn’t change about Museums at Night; the date, time and of course the small budget.

The students worked through several event ideas before coming up with something exciting and different.  It is called Roman Sensations and offers a chance to explore the torch-lit Roman Baths, taste Roman wine, listen to music, watch live drama, smell perfumes and herbs introduced by the Romans and try on togas and tunics.

Women pointing to pots of colour on a table

Visitors discover Roman cosmetics at the Roman Baths during Museums at Night 2011 (c) Bath & North East Somerset Council

Events like Museums at Night give us the opportunity to collaborate on projects like this with other organisations such as the local university. Bath Spa University students learn from real world experience about working together, project management, interpretation and engaging with the public.

As I write, the students are returning for the new term and the pressure is now really on to meet all of the deadlines to make this evening a big success.  This is challenging for experienced heritage practitioners and students alike.  And the curtain has to go up at 8.15 on Saturday 19 May when the doors open…


Thanks, Lindsey – visitors to Bath have a lot to look forward to!

If you’d like to write a guest post or case study for this blog about any aspect of event planning or marketing in arts or heritage venues, please drop me a line at rosie@culture24.org.uk or call me on 01273 623336.