Celebrating the heritage of Bath: Culture24 on the road for Museums at Night 2009

By Ed Sexton in Bath | 17 May 2009
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a child wearing a miner's helmet

Toby Temple Smith wearing a miner's helmet from the Radstock Museum. Photo © Ed Sexton / Culture24

Culture24 reporters have been hitting the road this weekend to report on Museums at Night events right across the UK. Here Ed Sexton takes in just some of the many museums and heritage sites in Bath opening their doors for a very special Museums at Night 2009.

The people of Bath were out in force on Saturday night (May 16) to take part in Museums at Night 2009 with eight city museums taking part in a host of events ranging from music and dance to mask making and atmospheric slideshows.

Museums at Night (and in the afternoon too!) kicked off at 3pm in Queen Square with jive dancers, performers and the good people of Bath throwing themselves into the festivities.

a child with a drawing on a pillar

Rupert Leigh aged 4 decorating a Roman column in Queen Square. Photo © Ed Sexton / Culture24

All the young visitors loved the hands on activities allowing them to handle artefacts from the Museum of East Asian Art, decorate masks and boxes with the Holbourne Museum and play 'guess the object' with the Radstock Museum.

There were displays of Tai Chi, Georgian dancing courtesy of costumed characters in tricorn hats and ruffle dresses and even some jive lessons which had everyone from the young to the young-at-heart regally rocking around Queen Square.

a photo of a man and woman dresses Georgian outfits

Georgian dancers. © Ed Sexton / Culture24

Museums at Night was a more regal affair at No1 Royal Crescent where the Prior Park College musicians serenaded visitors around the exquisitely decorated house with period Baroque music.

Museumgoers were also given a unique opportunity to explore the Museum of Bath at Work, which had been brought to life with noises from the factory floor resounding amongst the exhibits and a special slideshow depicting Bath through the ages.

an atmospheric shot of green pool at night

After hours at the Roman Baths proved to be a very relaxing experience. © Ed Sexton / Culture24

As if the earlier crash course in jiving wasn’t enough - Museums at Night revellers were again asked to take to the floor for a Georgian dancing lesson at the Building of Bath Collection. The expert dancers really showed the audience how it’s done and talked everyone through the French terms and fancy footwork before letting them loose with the backing of the musicians.

The Roman Baths were humming with activity as Roman characters went about their duties of cooking, carving stone and applying Roman make up. The remarkably realistic characters offered both information and entertainment in equal measure – and stayed in character no matter what they were asked, greeting each visitor with a jolly wave and a ‘salve’ or hello.

a photo of bald man in Roman garb talking to a woman and a child

Costumed interpreters at the Roman Baths. © Ed Sexton / Culture24

Britain’s most romantic heritage location certainly lived up to its reputation as visitors relaxed in the picturesque setting of the Baths listening to the live music and enjoying a well earned drink after a brilliantly busy Museums at Night 2009.

Feedback - how was it for you?

a photo of a mum and dad with son between them

Max Mcguiness with his parents Barry and Emma: "I would give today an eight out of ten. I really liked making all the things in Queen Square where I made an origami hat and watched the Tai Chi which was really good. I had some Roman food at the Baths too and that was really tasty."

a photo of a town crier in tricorn hat

Sean Price, the guest Town Cryer: "I am normally the Town Cryer in Westbury but just for today I am the town cryer of Bath. I think its gone really well today, I have been out on the streets bestowing the virtues of Museums at Night 2009 to the people of Bath. There was a shower earlier but there has still been a throng of people out having fun today. Bath is a living museum and the museums really speak for themselves and draw people in."

a photo of two women

Suzanna Mead (left) and Fay Swaffield: Suzanna - "The Baths have been a really calming place to come to this evening. I would give the evening ten out of ten - what's made it so special is that its not been too overcrowded so you get to see the extra little bits of the Museum and talk to the people that care for the museums and get more of a one-to-one experience. I will definitely be back next year. Fay and I have had a lovely evening and have been to the Museum of Bath at work and the Building of Bath Collection as well as the Baths. It's all been fantastic."

Over 150 museums and galleries across the UK took part in Museums at Night 2009, which ran from May 15 - May 17. We hope next year's event will be even bigger and better, so watch out for news of Museums at Night 2010 on Culture24!

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