Every May there is a national programme of activities in museums, art galleries and heritage organisations called Museums at Night. Here at Tullie House we love to get involved and take the opportunity to try something different to attract those who wouldn’t ordinarily visit, and give those who do visit a new and exciting experience.
In 2013, Museums at Night fell during the changeover period in our large temporary exhibition space, and so ‘The Art Gallery Takeover’ was born. We transformed the space into a creative nightclub to show that the fun at Tullie House isn’t just for kids.
We had a great night and our most successful Museums at Night event up to that point. So when it came to thinking about Museums at Night 2014, the Art Gallery Takeover was an idea we wanted to run with once again. One problem … the weekend of events fell a couple of weeks too early and rather than being a huge empty space, the Art Gallery was home to our brilliant ‘Mechanical Circus’ exhibition.
Not to be put off by the presence of 5 circus tents, housing over 150 automata and historical science equipment, we worked with our exhibition partners, Museum Boerhaave and Cabaret Mechanical Circus to create activities and events which were mindful of the collections. Surrounded by cogs, gears and Victoriana there was only one way to go, and before we knew it ‘The Steampunk Circus’ was coming to Carlisle for one night only!
The Steampunk Circus spoke to a niche audience and was an ambitious idea, and like most museums, we do not have a huge budget for events. However, we as museums do have, creative, dedicated staff with the skills, knowledge and enthusiasm to create great events. So our family learning team manned craft tables heping people to ‘steampunk up’ their outfits.
Our Visitor Services Manager and Family Learning Officer teamed up to act as our Tiffin and Kettle Masters and oversee the tense and thrilling sport of Teaduelling!
Our Secondary Learning Officer teamed up with one of our freelance practitioners to deliver a lesson in Fancy Dress Life Drawing, which had been so popular in 2013, this time with a Steampunk Twist. They encouraged people to dress up and strike a pose, or for those less fond of the limelight try their hand at drawing – with some brilliant results!
There were so many other people involved who helped to make the night really special, not least our friends at Warwick Tower for bringing by some of their amazing stock, DJ Oldboy for providing the soundtrack, Astral Circus for entertaining and astounding and Chris Cook, our magician for the night.
A great night was had by all – starting to look forward to the next one all ready!
Keep an eye out at for events coming up here at Tullie and other museums and heritage venues on the weekend of the 14-16 May 2015!