- Date: 15 May 2013
- Area: South East
Itch, The Great Escape Festival & Brighton Museum collaboration for Museums at Night 2013. Credit: Photo courtesy of The Great Escape Festival
A three-day festival that invites museums, galleries and heritage sites to open their venues after dark will kick off this Thursday with exciting events across the country.
Now in its sixth year, Museums at Night aims to encourage new audiences into museums and galleries. The programme is conceived and run by Brighton-based Culture 24 and supported with a £150,000 Arts Council England Renaissance in the regions funding award for 2012 to 2015.
This year's festival runs from Thursday 16 May to Saturday 18 May 2013. There are hundreds of fun and imaginative events happening across the country - and loads right here in the South East.
Go check out one of the largest Roman Villas (West Sussex) or go on a guided bat walk (Guildford) or spend a day and an evening with Hastings-born Jake and Dinos Chapman at the Jerwood Gallery (Hastings) as part of Museums at Night Connect 10.
Supported with an Arts Council England National Lottery-funded Grants for the arts award, Connect 10 matches 10 major artists with 10 museums and galleries events through a public vote -other artists include Martin Creed, Gavin Turk and Richard Wentworth.
On Friday 17 May, three of Oxford's most well-loved museums - Ashmolean, Pitt Rivers and Museum of History of Science - will be running programmes of special events as part of Museums at Night from 6pm to 10pm. Lectures, tours and talks abound plus family friendly activities are on offer like Guy Fawkes's lantern making workshop and Ashmolean's Dodos and Dark Lanterns events.
As part of the weekend fun, several museums will be hosting sleepovers for kids and kids at heart. Dover Castle, King Henry II's medieval Great Tower, in Kent and Hampton Court Palace in Surrey will both host special adult-only slumber parties, a rare chance to experience the royal treatment.
On Saturday 18 May, Brighton Museum, an Arts Council Renaissance Major partner museum, will be transformed into a Great Escape Festival venue from 7pm to 10pm. The night will see live acoustic performances from Great Escape artists Del Barber, Mike Dignam, Of Rust and Bone, Jeremy Neale, and Itch. Great Escape is supported with an Arts Council England National Lottery-funded Grants for the arts award.
An enchanted evening of ghoulish fancy dress and family friendly activity will be staged at Chiltern Open Air Museum in Buckinghamshire on Saturday from 7pm to 11pm. Participants can enjoy craft workshops, family fairy tale museum tours, storytelling and behind-the-scenes candlelit tours.
Michael Cooke, Museum Relationship Manager, South East, Arts Council England says, 'We're really excited to see so many of our regional museums and heritage venues opening their doors as part of this unique initiative. Museums are the country's rich treasures, a place where history, art and imagination can come together.
'Last year's Museums at Night saw audiences of more than 121,000, with a third who were new visitors - we anticipate that this number will continue to grow. I encourage people of all ages to give this year's activities a go!'
Nick Stockman, Campaigns Manager, Culture24, says, 'I'm so pleased that cultural venues all over the South East are opening up after hours for Museums at Night. Jake and Dinos Chapman are conducting a night of mystery on Friday 17 May and a day for kids on Saturday 18 at the Jerwood in Hastings, of which they promise 'no one's going to find themselves with different parts of their anatomy on their faces'.
'If you're disappointed about that, try the Dover Castle sleepover where you can bed down for the night in King Henry II's medieval Great Tower!
'I'm also intrigued by Watford Museum's Drawing Theatre, a fusion of drawing and theatre. I can't wait to see and hear the DJ in the glass box at Brighton Museum's Great Escape collaboration. There's plenty to keep you amused in Museums at Night in the South East this year.'
Museums at Night 2013, Thursday 16 to Saturday 18 May 2013, various locations www.museumsatnight.org.uk