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Top Ten: Museum Events!

Rosie Clarke, from Museums at Night, picks her favourite museum events for Heritage Open Days. 

© Wolfgang Claussen - In Oxford, The Bodleian Library opens its doors to travel back to Regency times.

 

 I’m Rosie Clarke, and I coordinate the twice-yearly Museums at Night festival for Culture24. I spend a lot of time helping museums, galleries, libraries, archives and heritage sites to plan and promote creative after-hours events that will help attract new visitors to discover the amazing cultural places on their doorstep.

For this reason, I’ve always loved Heritage Open Days and the way it brings millions of people together to throw open doors and discover and celebrate local places and stories. 

Looking at the extraordinary wealth of Heritage Open Days events, I’m particularly interested in unusual and quirky happenings held in museums and archives, where staff and volunteers at venues are challenging themselves by offering something a bit different for visitors to experience for the first time. Here are some of my highlights: 

Calling Indiana Jones

Did you know that Reading Central Library has a strong room? Venture into the rolling stacks and discover a world of historic prints, maps, and an ancient treasure – the 1585 Mathematical Jewel. 

A cider making illustration, on show from the London Royal Horticultural Society this September. Credit to RHS Library Collections.

Codlings, costards and biffins

This sounds much ruder than it actually is – these are all varieties of apple! London’s Royal Horticultural Society has a fascinating archive not usually open to the public: pomological catalogues, living reference orchards in their gardens, and a collection of 200 years of fruit portraits. Yes – fruit portraits. Admit it, you’re intrigued. 

Don’t eat the dormice

St Neots Museum will transport you back to Roman times, as you don replica costumes, discover weapons and shields and learn about food and cooking, sampling some flavours from the past. 

 

It is a truth universally acknowledged…

… that a single person in Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries must be in want of etiquette instruction. Travel back to Regency times for a day with Jane Austen, and learn how to allure gentlemen with the language of fans!  

Make your own brick to celebrate your heritage at The Brickwork Museum. Credit to C.H.

Won’t you join the dance?

At Bristol’s Palestine Museum & Cultural Centre you can experience the fun of dabka dancing, venture up to the rooftop vegetable garden and taste Palestinian cooking.

Make your own brick 

Does exactly what it says on the tin: when you visit Southampton’s mighty Brickworks Museum, the last steam-driven Victorian brickworks in the UK, you can make a souvenir with a difference! 

Ding ding!

If you’re in Manchester, don’t miss the chance to ride the Museum of Transport’s historic buses out on the roads, as they take you on a route around the city calling in at three fascinating museums. 

One of our LGBTQ events! Wander through Roman history at the Verulamium Museum this September. Credit to Carole Raddato.

Alternative history and rainbow trail

As a St Albans girl, I’m delighted to see that Verulamium Roman Museum is looking at LGBTQ identities and changing gender roles – and creating a giant rainbow mural!

Victorian CSI

There’s been a murder! Play detective and solve the clues throughout Ripon’s atmospheric Workhouse Museum to find out whodunit. 

We’re going underground

This fascinating journey through the Williamson tunnels labyrinth, created by Joseph Williamson’s compulsive burrowing underneath Liverpool, sounds truly extraordinary. 

Wherever you go for Heritage Open Days this year, I hope you have a marvellous time! And if this whets your appetite and inspires you to explore some museums at night, our festival will return every October and May. 

Rosie Clarke

About Rosie Clarke

Rosie Clarke is the Communications and Sector Support Manager for Culture24. She coordinates the Museums at Night festival which runs every May and October. Find out more about Museums at Night at http://museumsatnight.org.uk/.