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Museums at Night 2012 unlocks doors to cultural venues this May

  • Date: 3 May 2012
  • Area: National, South East
Museums at Night. Torches, Pitt River Museum.

Museums at Night. Torches, Pitt River Museum. . Credit: Photo courtesy of Museums at Night

An exciting national project that persuades museums and other cultural institutions to open their doors for fun late night activities runs again this May.

Now in its fifth year, Culture24’s  Museums at Night will see over 200 different activities taking place in hundreds of museums, galleries, libraries, archives and heritage sites over the weekend of Friday 18 to Sunday 20 May 2012.

Brighton-based Culture24, a non-profit cultural publishing organisation that supports arts and heritage venues, was awarded a £150,000 Arts Council England Renaissance award for 2012 to 2015 to run the campaign.

The Renaissance programme aims to drive excellence and deliver long term change in regional museums in England, attracting more visitors to museums and enabling people to experience them in new and innovative ways.

This year, Museums at Night also launched a new project that matches ten contemporary artists with ten museums and galleries for a series of special one-off events called Connect10. Venues across the country bid to have these renowned artists and writers help them create a unique event during the Museums at Night weekend. The winners were then selected through a public vote.

Hannah Lake, Museum Relationship Manager, East, Arts Council England, says: ‘The arts projects taking place in museums through Connect 10 are a fantastic example of how the arts can work with museums to create innovative and exciting cultural activity that will be enjoyed by audiences across the country.

One of the lucky winners is contemporary arts museum Towner, an Arts Council England National portfolio organisation in Eastbourne. They will transform their award-winning gallery into a Museums at Night nightclub with a little help from iconic artists Bob & Roberta Smith.

Other winners include Wedgewood Museum, Stoke-on-Trent; Old Operating Theatre, London; Victoria Gallery and Museum, Liverpool; SS Great Britain, Bristol and others.

From sleepovers to torch lit tours, Museums at Night is a perfect platform for reaching new audiences and showing how museums and cultural sites can engage all ages and interests.

In the South East, you can explore the home of Charles Darwin in twilight, spend the night in one of England's most haunted castles, Dover Castle, or go to a hot jazz evening garden party at Nymans Gothic Manor.

In the East, you can go on a candlelit ghost tour of Peterborough Museum, visit Kettle’s Yard at night, or try your hand at a Jubilee craft making session at Letchworth Museum & Art Gallery.

A very special Museums at Night lays in store for North Norfolk residents: Cromer, Sheringham and Wells will be transformed into a Victorian Festival over the weekend in Victorial Nights, complete with Victorian fire eaters, escapologists, an old fashioned photo parlour, fairground attractions, circus acts, and more.

Visual arts gallery Kettle’s Yard - an Arts Council England National portfolio organisation in Cambridge - is opening their doors on 18 May. This is a rare opportunity for the public to explore Kettle’s Yard house at night and get a glimpse of the beautiful objects and artwork on display. Members of the public will be able to view the Alfred Wallis(1855 – 1942) Ships and Boats exhibition. The exhibition includes over 40 paintings featuring brigantines, sailing boats, lug boats and motor vessels. There will be a film screening by associate artist Jeremy Miller, which guests are invited to watch while relaxing with a glass of wine.

Nick Stockman, Project Manager, Culture24 says: ‘Museums at Night explodes into life all over the country on Friday 18 May and runs through until Sunday 20 May. With over 450 events in galleries, museums, historic sites and heritage buildings this weekend festival is the premier annual showcase campaign for the culture and heritage sectors.

‘This year’s festival venues welcome contemporary artists, expert curators, authors, Mongolian yurts, short films, celebrated tattooists, sleepovers, famous photographers, taxidermy and jelly (!) through their doors to celebrate the wonderful and the weird heritage and culture on offer in Britain today.’

Michael Cooke, Museum Relationship Manager, South East, Arts Council England says: Arts Council England has always tried to find ways in which the arts can work together with museums and libraries to create a joint cultural offer for the country, but more so since our new responsibilities for museums and libraries. Museums at Night is a great vehicle to make this happen.’

Museums at Night takes place across England from Friday 18 to Sunday 20 May 2012. To find out what events are happening near you, please see www.museumsatnight.org.uk