Museums at Night 2013: LightNight, Liverpool's city-wide spree of late night culture

By Ben Miller | 18 May 2013

Museums at Night Report: LightNight Liverpool, various venues, Liverpool, May 17 2013

a photo of a people framed in the doorway looking into the illuminated interior of a cathedral
Visitors enter Liverpool Cathedral
The diversity of the 58 venues taking part in LightNight took in pubs, pizza bars, BBC Radio studios and the town hall.

But it began in nomadic, clattering fashion down on the Pier Head. An army of samba drummers bashed their way forward, heading towards the Museum of Liverpool, whose atrium starred a group of semi-clad Romans carrying out gruesome incisions in a display of pre-anaesthetic operating slab gore.

"What does that smell like?", asked one of them, prodding a packet of potion at a child beyond the rope, who promptly sank to the floor in front of his mates.

A stroll along the dock, at Tate Liverpool, the early evening party was warming up in glamorous style.

The celebrations were partly down to the gallery's 25th birthday - marked with an excellent exhibition reflecting on its past displays - and partly because of a DJ, soundsystem and make-up booth at the entrance.

Upstairs, a couple of exotic birds formed part of its new Constellations show, but the Bluecoat was busy launching an entire new season of exhibitions.

Space was at a premium inside and out, with a barbecue and poetic performances in the elegant courtyard proving popular, not to mention Pom-Pom workshops within.

Darkness reigned at FACT. "Go on, push her off the rock, drown her," urged one viewer from behind his 3-D glasses in a room the size of a phonebox.

He was watching Hinterland, in which Bjork, the singer and unofficial Queen of Iceland, grapples some sort of goblin on a crater hurtling down a river.

For a true rush, though, the Anglican Cathedral was unbeatable, allowing visitors to carefully tiptoe up a huge central stairwell.

At the peak, under the understandably nervous watch of organisers familiar with the exact height of the building, there were vertiginously spectacular views of a church buzzing with guests.

Down below, a silver blow-up dome hosted storytelling sessions, while the front space became a Candle Lit Labyrinth.

Geographically and conceptually about as far removed as you could get from a glowing cathedral tonight, a set of 12-foot bouncers camply guarded the way to the Camp and Furnace.

It was tempting to simply stick around the various mind-boggling food stalls inside this warehouse-style bar and gallery grotto, which suggested music - of which it had plenty - as the food of love.

The caravans and table-tennis tables at the back of its main auditorium lay in the shadows of a huge screen showing shorts in honour of Look/13, the city's international photography festival which began tonight.

If that festival can galvanise a citywide spree of venues as imaginatively as LightNight, it will be in for a good year.

  • Museums at Night runs until Saturday (May 18 2013). Visit museumsatnight.org.ukto find out what's on near you.
More photos:

Two men dressed as gladiators
A warm greeting from gladiators at the Museum of Liverpool
a photo of a man and a woman looking at an artwork
Art at the Bluecoat
a photo of a gallery interior with people sitting on sofas and looking at artworks
Taking it easy at Tate Liverpool
a photo of people at an outside bar
The bar at Furnace
  • Museums at Night continues until Saturday (May 18 2013). Visit museumsatnight.org.uk to find out what's on near you.


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