Unicorns. Corpse creating. Dodos. Dancers. Vertigo-inducing views of holy vaults. Museums at Night 2013 made the hard work of organisers and curators across the country worthwhile.
“Won” by a public vote as part of Culture24’s Connect10 competition, sculptor Julian Wild made a maze-like interlink of shapes out of lines of white within the historic industrial setting of Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire.
“Visitors really enjoyed helping Julian build the sculpture during the day and then came back to see it glowing by night,” said Anna Brennand, the Deputy Chief Executive of the Gorge Museums.
“When you stand in the exhibition hall, you hear the same comment as people walk in – ‘wow’.
“Several people commented that they had always wanted to come down to see whether it was suitable for their families, and tonight has convinced them that it is.”
Martin Creed’s appearance at the Freud Museum – also courtesy of Connect10 – sounds rather more unsettling.
“I do feel like this is a therapy session, but one that’s more sweaty,” he confessed, speaking to an audience of 100 newly-ordained psychoanalysts.
Creed’s display had begun, according to artist Barry Sykes in a brief review on Twitter, with an “epic awkward silence”.
“Audience lean in, stumbles to joyous musical finale,” he added, attempting to capture the confusion.
“Still not sure how much of it was theatrics, or actually in freefall, or if so how intentional. Worked, though.”
Tullie House, which is something of a fortress in its own right in Roman Cumbria, welcomed digital artist Adam Clarke who, with the help of his crowd, helped turn the walls into an interactive Cumbrian landscape, assisted by participants around the world via nifty technological planning.
Paper craft activities took place in “chill out” areas, and a pop-up bar and DJ booth presided over deep house and nu-disco – you can listen to some of the set.
“It was a wonderful event,” said Debbie Taylor, who blogged on the night having kept locals updated on what to expect.
“I would love to see more of the same.”
Matt Ball, an Ancient History student who devotes some of his expertise to Bath’s Roman Baths, helped visitors nosey around the Beau Street Hoard, a collection of 17,577 Roman coins found in the city in 2007. It has been declared treasure.
“We hoped that in displaying coins from the hoard before its arrival in Bath, we would be able to ask visitors to Museums at Night what they thought about the hoard itself, what they would like to see done with it, and what more they'd like to know about," he explains.
“To put it into context for people I said that some of these hadn't been valid coins for years by the time of the hoard, so that'd be like finding the odd George III penny in your change today.
“The Roman Baths made for an excellent night time venue, and visitors got to experience some excellently recreated historical music.
“Aside from the jazz band situated at the east end of the Great Bath, my absolute favourite act was Waytes and Measures, who treated us to a good three hours of authentic Medieval music on their wonderfully recreated instruments.
“My favourite instrument was the fabulously-named Hurdy Gurdy. It’s a mix of a keyboard and a violin or fiddle with a turn handle. Imagine Bert from Mary Poppins, but in hose.”