MGM 2006 - UK Museums Open Their Doors For Night Of The Museums

By Graham Spicer | 16 May 2006
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photo of a dinosaur skeleton illuminated by a green light

The Pitt Rivers museum will be showing its displays in different light for Night of the Museums. Photo courtesy Pitt Rivers Museum

Museums and Galleries Month 2006 (MGM) is embracing Night of the Museums, a pan-European venture that will see museums and galleries across the continent opening their doors for special evening events on Saturday May 20 2006.

Night of the Museums, or ‘La Nuit des Musées’, is it its second year and will feature around 1,700 venues in France alone. Some 30 countries across Europe, from Portugal to Poland, are staging events and this year will involve even more of Britain’s venues.

“It is a really good initiative and it is great to be part of a European promotion,” said Ylva French of MGM organisers The Campaign for Museums.

“Those venues who have been able to do something have come up with some really exciting ideas to help makes museums and galleries more interesting and accessible to a different audience, and that is really what Night of the Museums is all about.”

a black and white photograph of a man wearing a charicature mask with a large nose

Beneath the Mask, Pierre Prévert (Sous le masque, Pierre Prévert), 1930. Photographed by Jacques-André Boiffard. Part of the Bataille-themed surrealist exhibition that will inform the Night of the Museum event at the Hayward Gallery. Photo: CNAC/MNAM Dist. RMN © Philippe Migeat

Highlights in the UK include Hayward Nights, at London’s Hayward Gallery, where visitors can immerse themselves in the Fantômas stories of Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain

These pre-World War One French thrillers star the arch-criminal and ‘Lord of Terror’ Fantômas, currently featuring in a display of books and films at the gallery’s Undercover Surrealism exhibition.

Fantômas’ ghost will inhabit the upper gallery for an evening of music, games, film and performance, surrounded by specially designed period sets.

In Oxford, the Pitt Rivers Museum and Oxford University Museum of Natural History are following on from last year’s evening event, which attracted more than 1,000 visitors, with another invitation to view the museum ‘In A Different Light.’

photograph of a man next to stone carved faces

An atmospheric location for an important collection. The Collection in Lincoln. Courtesy Coleman Getty

It features Balian Gamelan and shadow puppetry, the opening of the Treasured Textiles: Cloth and Clothing Around the World exhibition, a range of family activities and torchlight tours of the Pitt Rivers.

Tickets are limited for the torchlight tours, but the events are free and adults can watch the activities from the gallery listening to Javanese music whilst enjoying a glass of wine.

Other events are taking place at Hat Works in Stockport, Oxford’s Museum of the History of Science, Cannon Hall Museum, Barnsley, Ripon Prison Museum and Ripon Workhouse, PM Gallery and House in London and the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Time and Tide, The Tollhouse and Elizabethan House all have events running in Great Yarmouth and the Collection in Lincoln will also be opening for the Night of the Museums.

Shows the outside of the Laing Gallery against a blue sky

The Laing Art Gallery - evening guests will be given an after-hours opportunity to explore the latest exhibition: Passion for Paint. © Laing Art Gallery.

Museums and Galleries Month aims to promote Britain’s wealth of museums, galleries and heritage sites to a wider audience and Nights of the Museums looks set to be a popular yearly fixture of the celebrations.

To learn more about the Europe-wide La Nuit des Musées project, see its website. Full details of the events happening around the UK can be found on the 24 Hour Museum What’s On pages.