MGM Commendations - The Best Of May 2008

Published: 21 July 2008

shows a person in front of a screen of threads and cloth

Late shift at the Sainsbury Centre

Choosing the best of Museums and Galleries Month 2008 was not an easy task for the MGM panel of judges.

This year’s MGM Commendations go to: Keats House and the London Metropolitan Archives for their Wallace and Gromit and Make a Museum Day; the Sainsbury Centre at the University of East Anglia for the Late Shift – a Chinese inspired arts event; the overall commendation for the best MGM event goes to Weston Park, Sheffield Museums and Galleries for their Space Age: Launch Day. Runner Up in the overall category was Mansfield Museum with their Blitz Night at the Museum.

Congratulations to all who entered. Each of the three MGM Commendation winners will receive £500 towards next year’s event, sponsored by Aardman, the MGM Arts Programme and the Campaign for Museums. The

Making a museum - at the joint Keats House, London Metropolitan Archives event

This is what the winners achieved:

Keats House in Hampstead faced a challenge – it’s closed for a major HLF funded refurbishment. So for the first time it joined with its parent organisation the City of London’s London Metropolitan Archives and the LB of Islington. The event gave local families the opportunity to learn more about museums, curating, conservation, objects and collections. Keats House staff worked with children making their own museum objects out of play-doh. LMA conservators ran an activity about ‘museum baddies’ where families could look at bugs and damaged documents under microscopes. The day ended with a showing of Aardman’s The Wrong Trousers, partly set in an imaginary museum. ‘Wallace and Gromit Make a Museum!’ was a free event (pre-booked) attended by 43 adults and 71 children.

The Sainsbury Centre (working with the East Midlands Hub) combined the Ideas and Innovation theme with Museums at Night and added the Chinese dimension, attracting a broad mix of people including students and young people and children and families.

The evening included traditional Chinese lion dancing from the Hung Sing Martial Arts School, art workshops and story telling; there was even a special showing of the innovative Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep films. The emphasis was very much on art and crafts and local artists took part in the event and presented work inspired by Chinese culture, exploring its influences on the western world. Entertainment continued into the evening with music from experimental groups and samba dancing! 800 people attended the event.

shows a man and a boy in a museum

Space Age at Weston Park Museum, Sheffield

At Weston Park, Sheffield – over 2,000 enjoyed the Launch Day of its Space Age exhibition. The day started with a surprise visit by Darth Vader and other Star Wars characters that opened the exhibition using the Force to the dramatic sound of the Star Wars theme. Families explored the exhibition with many engaging with the Family Trail and Under 4’s explore box, including fathers. There was a buzz of excitement running throughout the whole day, visitors making alien masks, inventing planets and creating rockets and spaceships.

While not a commendation winner Mansfield Museum came a close runner up with their successful ‘Mansfield in the Blitz’ evening split into three complementary parts: an ‘austerity’ buffet; a performance piece in which the audience helps prepare a land-girl for a wartime wedding and a more organised sing-a-long to a medley of Forties songs. All staff in attendance wore period outfits, as did some members of the audience. The event was fully booked (80 participants) with a waiting list – appealing to all ages.

Shortlisted events includes “Build a brilliant bird box” at Spacex, Exeter, “Tea Tasting” at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, “Meet the Artist” at Orleans House, “Museum Mayhem” at Hampshire and Isle of Wight Museums, “Dartmoor Rocks” at the Museum of Dartmoor Life and “Full Bloom – Late Shows” at the Laing Art Gallery.

The MGM Commendation Scheme judges included members of the MGM Strategy Group as well as last year’s winner, Pitt Rivers Museum: Jon Pratty, 24 Hour Museum; Adrian Bevan, VisitBritain; Katie Owen, Heritage Lottery Fund; Kate White, Pitt Rivers Museum and Rachael Evans, Renaissance East Midlands.