BBC lines up Will Gompertz Saturday night TV documentary for Museums at Night festival

By Culture24 Reporter | 09 May 2014

BBC Two viewers will be sampling the Museums at Night festival weekend this Saturday in the company of Will Gompertz

BBC Two viewers will be taking a front row seat at this year’s Museums at Night festival thanks to a special broadcast presented by the BBC’s Arts Editor, Will Gompertz.

The programme, Museums at Night, which goes out on Saturday May 17 at 7pm, is part of the new strand of BBC Arts programming. It will feature some of their best-known presenters together with artists from around the country and experts from our leading institutions.

Capturing the best of the three-day Museums at Night festival, the documentary will be filmed at the National Museum of Scotland. Viewers can expect live performances, chats with key players about the place of museums and galleries in the 21st century and short films from other Museums at Night events around the country.

Visitor numbers show that people can’t get enough of Britain’s museums, so Gompertz will explore some of the big issues facing museums and galleries in the digital age.

Three key people who’ve led the renaissance of UK museums and galleries today will be on hand:  the Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre, Jude Kelly; Amit Sood, the founder of the Google Art Project and the Director of Google’s Cultural Institute, and Bettany Hughes, the historian and presenter of the British Museum’s Vikings Live cinema show.

With actor Mat Fraser, the charismatic BBC Arts Editor will be getting involved in events at the museum including his first Silent Disco and a pop-up opera, Love In A... Museum, produced by the Edinburgh International Festival, which immerses visitors in the great tradition of the “art song”.

The programme will also visit one of the more unusual heritage sites taking part in the Museums at Night weekend, St Ann’s Allotments in Nottingham, where internationally renowned photographer Rankin will be shooting, printing and displaying an exhibition of photos of allotment owners in just one day. 

At the Cardiff Story Museum the programme will follow Janette Parris, who will be challenging 30 artists to recreate 30 objects in the museum for display during the festival weekend.

And in the dead of night, art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon will be taking a group of Hackney teenagers for a sneak preview of a hidden Rembrandt masterpiece that will feature at the National Gallery’s forthcoming blockbuster show.

Meanwhile, in Liverpool, author Frank Cottrell Boyce will be enjoying spectacular light displays and bustling crowds of the city’s LightNight festival and exploring how his home town has awoken from the dark days of 20th century recession with a new generation of museums and galleries that have transformed the city’s fortunes and spirits.

The programme also celebrates a brace of unsung museum heroes - The Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall and The Museum of Gas and Local History in Norfolk, and the passionate people who keep these archive gems alive. The programme asks what it means to be an independent curator, archiving hidden histories for the nation.

BBC Arts Online will also be following Museums at Night at with a live stream from Imperial War Museum North which begins at 6.30pm on May 17, ahead of the BBC Two transmission, and continues at 8pm, featuring a complete performance of Russell Maliphant’s new dance work Second Breath, performed by English National Ballet.

Will Gompertz was featured in the BBC Radio 2 Chris Evans breakfast show on Friday May 9, talking about Museums at Night and BBC Arts. Catch up with the programme on iPlayer Radio.

Visit for more coverage of Museums at Night and a chance to get involved in VanGoYourself, a new project recreating famous artworks for an online gallery.

Hundreds of events take place for Museums at Night between May 15-17 2014. Visit and follow the festival on Twitter@MuseumsAtNight.

More on Museums at Night:

Chiltern Open Air Museum plans Pegasus to usurp unicorn for Museums at Night magic

Volunteers share all: Spencer Tunick talks about his daring project for Museums at Night

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