Culture24’s Campaigns Officer Rosie Clarke explains why Museums at Night, the annual festival of after-hours excitement in museums and galleries, is well worth going along to.
Museums at Night, coordinated by Culture24, is the UK-wide annual festival of arts and heritage that explodes into life each May on the weekend nearest to International Museums Day. This year it runs over 3 evenings: Thursday 16, Friday 17 and Saturday 18 May.
Every year, hundreds of museums, galleries, libraries, archives and heritage sites take advantage of this opportunity to throw their doors open later than usual, offering events ranging from music and dance performances to spooky ghost tours, sleepovers, living history reenactments, craft workshops and author talks.
Museums at Night weekend offers the whole family intriguing chances to explore new places. Whether you’re curious about museum sleepovers or fancy taking a torchlight tour, there will be something to interest you.
History will come to life in atmospheric locations like Southwell Workhouse and Harewood House. Nearby venues are uniting across towns like Grimsby, while whole cities are coming together to offer joint programmes like Liverpool’s Light Night on Friday and Newcastle’s Late Shows on Friday and Saturday .
Who will you meet?
Venue staff and volunteers unite to deliver fantastically creative after-hours events, whether they’re reliving the 1940s Home Front at Brooklands Museum, staging a steampunk extravaganza at Norwich’s Dragon Hall or debating art by boxing in tiger suits at Scarborough!
Artists in unexpected places
There’s always a wide range of artistic events throughout the festival, and for the second year running Culture24 coordinated an exciting competition called Connect10. Museums suggested event ideas involving one of 10 top contemporary artists, then the top ideas were put to a public vote. Over 30,000 votes were cast, and the artists will be travelling to winning venues across the UK to inspire visitors who wouldn’t usually have the chance to see them.
You can make zoetropes with Mat Collishaw at Nottingham’s Backlit Gallery; help create large-scale sculptures with artists Julian Wild at Enginuity in Ironbridge and Julia Vogl at Newcastle’s Discovery Museum. Sing in Susan Forsyth’s Zusammen Choir Procession in Rochdale; discover the power of Ancient Egyptian pyramids with Gavin Turk at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery; or even recreate the film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! with Cullinan Richards at the 20-21 Visual Arts Centre in Scunthorpe!
Why should you go?
Museums, galleries and heritage sites take on a special, magical atmosphere after hours. You can relax, sometimes to the sound of live music, enjoy a glass of wine and explore at a leisurely pace. As the sun sets, historic buildings can easily transport you back into the past: some will be illuminated by candles or perhaps your own torchlight.
These fantastic places, full of stories, are right on our doorsteps all year round – yet so often we don’t have the time to visit them. Museums at Night weekend offers the perfect excuse to round up friends or family and explore new culture and heritage venues.
Find events to visit near you
2013’s Museums at Night festival is the biggest ever, with over 580 events taking place at 411 venues across the UK. See all the event listings, read about some of the highlights and find out what’s happening in your area. We have a terrific three nights ahead: have a wonderful time!