Unforgettable cultural experiences will be auctioned off during TopLots 2008.
Ever fancied firing a medieval weapon, or being taught to sword fight? Or perhaps you'd rather go to an exclusive launch party for the Vivienne Westwood exhibition in Sheffield, or stay overnight in a state bedroom at Leeds Castle?
These are just a few of the incredible experiences on offer in this year's heritage auctions on eBay TopLots, which will be open for bids from May 15 2008 as part of Museums and Galleries Month.
The auctions - proceeds from which go towards the upkeep of historic and cultural institutions – are all for unforgettable arts, heritage and cultural experiences at diverse places both large and small, from Historic Royal Palaces and National Trust properties to independent galleries. Winning bidders will be treated as VIPs and enthusiasts will have the opportunity to realise some unusual dreams.
At Kensington Palace you could get up close to its collection of Royal garments. © Richard Lea-Hair
A few of the fantastic lots include the chance to:
Stay overnight in a state bedroom in Leeds Castle after enjoying a chamber concert as personal guests of Sir Brandon and Lady Gough.
Strut your stuff at the launch and exclusive private party to launch the major Vivienne Westwood exhibition at the Sheffield Millennium Galleries – its only UK venue.
Learn to swordfight from the man who taught the Monty Python team (and Brad Pitt – though not at the same time!) at the Royal Armouries Museum.
Fire a howitzer, or a full-sized replica or a medieval siege weapon in the moat of the Tower of London; ride in a tank; tour an original Halifax MKIII Bomber; or steer a steam engine in the Harewood Rally parade.
Study Europe’s finest collection of royal and ceremonial dress in an in-depth personal tour of Kensington Palace’s Collection.
The White Tower, Tower of London © 24 Hour Museum
The timing of the lots is arranged between the venue and successful bidders – but must take place within a year of the auctions.
The TopLots 2008 auctions follow the success of the pilot auction in October 2007, when 61 diverse organisations took part, offering 127 exceptional heritage experiences.
People from around the world bid for ‘behind-the-scenes’ tours; opportunities to meet curators, celebrities and famous families; to participate in re-enactments; to undertake unusual hands-on activities and learn new skills. Successful bidders came from Alaska, California, the Netherlands and France as well as the UK.
One of the popular lots is a day on the scenic North Yorkshire Moors Railway. © NYMR
Participants were thrilled with their experiences:
“Once in a lifetime experience that will leave treasured memories,” said the highest bidder for a day spent with the North Yorkshire Moors Railways, including a footplate ride.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life! TopLots UK was an incredible experience for me and my travelling companion. One we will never forget,” said a successful bidder from Alaska – on her first ever trip to the UK – who spent a day with Sir Thomas Ingilby (26th generation) at Ripley Castle, Yorkshire!
To find out more about TopLots auctions, visit www.toplots.co.uk, where you can browse the lots and register to be reminded of the auctions starting. Lots are being added all the time. The Heritage TopLots will run until June 15 2008.
Organised to generate vital new funds for the participating museums, galleries and heritage properties – all not-for-profit organisations – the TopLots heritage auctions are run in partnership between eBay, the Association for Independent Museums, and UK heritage fundraising specialists, Development Partners, working closely with Museums and Galleries Month and Culture 08, VisitBritain and EnjoyEngland.