UK Museums at Night 2011
Tuesday 10, May 2011
Museums at Night, the annual after-hours celebration of arts, history and heritage, will take place this year over the weekend of Friday 13th to Sunday 15th May.
From the splendours of London’s V & A to the tiny Glenesk Folk Museum North of Angus in Scotland, from Ruthin Gaol in Wales to Newlyn Art Gallery in Cornwall, hundreds of museums and galleries across the UK will be opening their doors at night for gallery gigs, twilight film screenings, theatre shows, midnight murder mysteries, all-night sleepovers, torch-lit tours and much more. Tying in with the European event La Nuit des Musées,
Museums at Night will be offering the chance to experience a whole array of fantastic museums, cultural venues and historic houses once the sun goes down.
BBC 6 Music and 10 O’clock Live presenter Lauren Laverne is the Ambassador for Museums at Night. She explains “Museums at Night is a fantastic initiative that really makes museums and galleries accessible, fun and interesting. There are countless great events going on over the Museums at Night weekend - I can't wait to sample some of them."
There are some really special events being lined up for 2011, many of which are rarely on offer to the public. For arts lovers, there will be a night of free events inspired by the Figures and Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography exhibition at the V & A, with photographer Normski in conversation, DJ’s and live musicians; you can learn about the ideal Italian Renaissance body, draw from a life model, go on a special guided tour of Renaissance Paintings and enjoy Renaissance music from Royal College of Music students by candlelight at a Renaissance night of music and art at London’s National Gallery; or experience the dazzling spectacle of the Enchanted Palace exhibition at Kensington Palace after dark.
Renowned theatre group, The People Show, will be putting on a live multi-media experience at The Pumphouse Gallery in London, or for musical night with a difference, listen to a beatbox choir set to the backdrop of the acclaimed Mary Kelly retrospective, part of Manchester’s FutureEverything Festival at The Whitworth Art Gallery. The Holborne Museum in Bath is being re-opened by Peter Blake on Saturday 14th after an impressive £11 million re-development programme. Visitors over Museums at Night weekend can participate in “A Museum for Everyone” - a collaborative Peter Blake influenced collage on an extra large canvas where you can create a self-portrait or select an object from Blake’s collection to add to a giant picture of the museum, which will go on show during the opening week of Blake’s Museum for Myself exhibition.
For Literary lovers, fans of Daphne Du Maurier should head to Port Eliot House in Cornwall, where designer Michael Howells (Ballet Rambert & Christian Dior) has created a beautiful, moonlit installation in the dining room based on a scene from Rebecca. At Dove Cottage in Cumbria, surely one of the most evocative literary locations in the UK, visitors are invited to explore the former home of William Wordsworth by candlelight. The evening will also include readings from the poetry of the famous Lakeland poet and hiscontemporaries together with extracts from his sister Dorothy's journal. Charleston, the 17th century country farmhouse and rural retreat of the Bloomsbury set nestling in the Sussex Downs, is the setting for an evening tour, while for those who like their literature served up with a frisson of fear, then Hertford Museum’s A Pleasing Terror is probably the place to head for as Robert Lloyd Parry promises to curdle your blood by bringing to life two of M R James’ ghost stories.
Film fans are in for a treat this year as Museums at Night have also teamed up with International short film label Future Shorts, in a collaboration that will see museums and galleries up and down the country take part in the global short film festival Future shorts ONE - 70 – 80 minutes of the best short films around. Other film highlights include a special screening and introduction to the 1964 double-bill by Hammer Film of The Gorgon and The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb - a Hammer Horror Double Bill at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology.
There are plenty of Vintage and Retro themed evenings being put on for Museums at Night: The Churchill War Rooms in London are hosting a forties-themed Night, where a team of fabulous Forties fashion experts will be on hand to transform your look in the “Vintage Boudoir”; while the National Media Museum in Bradford will be channelling the 1950’s, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain with fashion shows, live swing band, jive dancing lessons, make up artists and retro cinema; rediscover a love of vinyl at The Biscuit Factory in Ouseburn at special evening celebrating the art of the vinyl record sleeve; or dress up in 1920’s black and white for The Shed Silent Movie Night in Gateshead, where you can visit the Cinema for One, drink cocktails or create your own blockbuster in the handmade Hollywood film studio; There will be a Thunderbirds night, with original models from the TV series, 60’s music and giant version of childhood games at London’s Royal Airforce Museum; or channel your inner geek at a 1980’s Bedroom Programming Night at The Computing Museum, Swindon, where resident experts will guide you through the process of creating your own dream game.
Several cities will be staging a variety of events in multiple venues. Newcastle & Gateshead will be hosting The Late Shows, the biggest Museums at Night event, with a free culture crawl with over 25 venues opening their doors and putting on events, while Liverpool will be running it’s Light Night – a one night celebration of arts and culture in Liverpool on Friday 13th. A whole host of galleries in Birmingham will be opening up late for Galleries Night and a free art bus will linking arts venues while there will be more city-wide excitement in Bath, Stockport, Dorchester and Northumberland.
Inspired by Museums at Night’s Friday 13th kick off, many of the events have a spooky theme: spend a “Night At The Cemetery” and tour the grand monuments and dark paths of Bristol’s Arnos Vale Cemetery by torchlight; travel underground for an adults only paranormal exploration of the UK's most popular 'Ghost Hunting' venue, RAF Holmpton; sleepover in the “Old Smithery” at The Historic Dockyard in Chatham, Kent; or listen to gruesome stories and live re-enactments of “Surgery By Gaslight’ at the Old Operating Theatre, the oldest surviving operating theatre in England.
Museums and heritage sites all over Scotland will be putting on some really special events. For the first time, Museums at Night are also partnering with the Festival of Museums, which is organised and run by Museums Galleries Scotland. Events include a Fishtastic Festival in the Highlands, celebrating the areas’ rich fishing history; there will be the chance to create your own folk legend and book of fairytales at the Glenesk Folk Museum or become part of living history at an outdoor concert at Temple Wood Stone Circle at Kilmartin Glen for the Sounding The Stones event.
Sky Arts is the proud Media Partner of Museums at Night 2011. They will broadcast a documentary as part of their Sky Arts At… media partnership series, which offers a unique behind-the-scenes insight on the weekend’s activity. The documentary will appear on Sky Arts 1 HD in May and also be available online at Sky.com/arts.
Museums at Night 2011 is organised by not-for-profit arts organisation Culture24 and backed by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), who have been instrumental in supporting the campaign since its inception and continue to be the major funders. Other partners include DCMS and VisitEngland, along with new funders Arts Council England and partners the Historic Houses Association and the Arts Marketing Association.
For details of all venues, events and activities visit www.museumsatnight.org.uk, where listings information will be continually updated right up until the weekend itself.
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