UK Supreme Court "can't wait" to let public see inside for Museums at Night

By Ben Miller | 26 March 2014

The highest court in the land will invite the public in for Museums at Night. Expect jazz, cocktails and drama

A photo of a civic concrete building with two flags flying above it under a blue sky
The UK Supreme Court will be the scene for jazz, cocktails and more on the opening evening of Museums at Night© UK Supreme Court
In the former Middlesex Guildhall – a civic cathedral designed for the council a century ago – the UK’s final court of appeal is the suitably imposing setting for cases of “the greatest public and constitutional importance”.

Ornate stonework, intricate wood carvings and stained glass abound, embellished by modern touches added when the building was spruced up to evolve and embrace its vital responsibilities five years ago.

For Museums at Night, a drama society will take to the floorboards of Court 1, live jazz music will fill the halls, court artist Isobel Williams will explain her judicious portraiture and Hugh Feilden, the man behind the renovation, will discuss his designs.

“It’s a bit of cliché for institutions to talk about being ‘excited’ about being involved in innovative projects like Museums at Night,” reckons Head of Communications Ben Wilson, calling the Court a “real hidden gem”.

“But here it’s true – we genuinely can’t wait to open the doors that evening and encourage people who might not usually be able to visit us during the working week to see the building and learn a bit more about the work of the UK’s highest court, in a relaxed atmosphere.

“We’ve laid on some illustrated talks, a short theatrical performance and we’ll be selling legally-themed cocktails – it will be far from silence in court.

“This is a chance for people to come and sit in the chairs of the country’s top judges and hopefully discover more about the role that the senior courts play in promoting a safe and prosperous society. All that and it’s a beautiful building in which to spend an evening.”

Grade II-listed, the highest court in the land was once lauded by architecture oracle Nikolaus Pevsner.

“He described the Guildhall as Art Nouveau Gothic, and visitors tell us that spirit is still very much evident today,” says Wilson, outlining two magnificent light wells, etched glass walls and “pop art carpets” under Feilden’s watch.

“One of the exciting things about Museums at Night is that visitors will get the chance to see inside the Justices’ reference Library, which is a triple-height space based around a former courtroom.

“We will also be displaying a 250-year old tapestry with George III’s royal cypher, which rarely sees the light of day because of what daylight would do to its condition.”

Space is limited in the courtrooms for the late night openings, with tickets available now.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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