Dancers at a 1950s late-night event at the Museum of London

Webchat: late-night events

17.12.2012
What makes a successful late-night event?
Holding out-of-hours events in museums is nothing new. But in recent years, organisations across the country have been keeping the doors open during the evenings – and sometimes throughout the night – for regular visitors as well.

In some cases, extended opening hours are just that: an opportunity for people to come and see exhibitions and displays at a time of day when they are not in work.

But increasingly museums are approaching late-night openings in a different way - creating curated events and activities with a decidedly social agenda, designed to attract new audiences and change the perception of the venue.

So what makes a successful late-night event?

Expert panel:

Nick Stockman, Museums At Night project manager
Culture 24

Nick Hewitt, head of attractions and collections
Explosion! Museum of Naval Firepower

Scott McKenzie-Cook, special events manager
Science Museum

Laura Crossley, freelance consultant and project manager
Including Museums At Night, North Norfolk

Claire Kirk, adult events programme manager
Museum of London

Craig Fletcher, Learning Manager (Informal & Events)
National Museums Scotland

Judith Merritt, Head of Learning
Firstsite, Colchester

All the questions and answers from the webchat can be seen below:

Comments

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Craig Fletcher
MA Member
Learning Manager, National Museums Scotland
17.12.2012, 12:59
Hi Rebecca. In our experience Social Media is key to marketing Late events and a great way of spreading the word . It can also be a great way to engage people with the event and generate excitement in the run-up through competitons (our cocktail naming compettion base daround the theme of each event is extremely popular) and drip feeding content. At the events as well encouraging people to engage through social media, such as posting images on Flickr, is a great way to capture peoples experiences and help promote future events.
17.12.2012, 12:52
I think that it's best to use as many media channels as possible - go for traditional listings in local newspapers etc and social media, as well as press releases and info on websites. However, I love the 'community' feel of social media in that it can create conversations about your event and a community of people who all want to know about the events you're delivering. I think social media is a great way to spread the word about events quickly via RTs.
Rebecca Atkinson
MA Member
Online Publications Editor, Museums Association
17.12.2012, 13:59
I'm afraid we're out of time and going to have to wrap things up. Thanks for all your questions and comments, and to our panel for their time and advice. All the comments will remain available online for reference - and of course if there's anything you want to add then please do so. If you haven't already read the MP on late-night events then you can do so via the left hand navigation menu - enjoy the rest of your day and have a very happy Christmas everyone!
Claire Kirk
Adult Events Programme Manager, Museum of London
17.12.2012, 13:42
Hi Katy. Probably our most successful event so far has been the Valentine late a couple of years ago. This sold out at 700 people and we had a lot of really excellent feedback on the night. I think the main reason it did so well in terms of press and numbers (aside from the fact that it was an unusual Valentine-themed event on Valentine's day) was that we were working with some great partners. We had Coco de Mer on board, Polari (the gay literary saon) and the caterers Bompas and Parr, who made a Celetial Bed you could try out accompanied by shot of aphrodisiac. The most popular activity, though, was delivered by our own curators who brought out some of our rarely seen x-rated objects out of the storerooms for object-handling. People love any racey!
Scott Mckenzie-Cook
Special Events Manager, Science Museum
17.12.2012, 13:38
The Musuem of London's last Lates worked with art/design students who put on some really nice events.
Craig Fletcher
MA Member
Learning Manager, National Museums Scotland
17.12.2012, 13:38
Yes we have worked with many art and design students at our Late events. For example, a group of costume design students from Edinburgh Queen Margaret University designed contemporary costumes based on the event theme (linked to our collections) and then modelled the results as part of a roaming fashion show adding to the atmosphere and spectacle of the event 'A Night in Wonderland'. We also work with a lot of young local artists, many of whom are still studying, and the events enable them to showcase their work to a wider audience whilst learning valuable public engagement skills by working alongside members of our Learning Team. The experience of working with students is hugely beneficial, especially if your Late event is aimed at a younger adult audience.
Claire Kirk
Adult Events Programme Manager, Museum of London
17.12.2012, 13:07
If you are trying to attract audiences for whom paying is the only barrier, and you can afford to run free events, that's great. However, in my experience social/cultural barriers are far more difficult to overcome and simply removing an entrance fee doesn't necessarily affect the type of audiences who attend.
Felicia Smith
MA Member
Public Engagement Manager, Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust
17.12.2012, 13:03
Interesting discussion so far, thanks for the opportunity to contribute to it.At Arnos Vale cemetery in Bristol, we run a programme of events and activities throughout the year and at different times of day (and night). These are a combination of in-house public engagement events e.g. night tours, dawn chorus bird watches and after-school activities - to external venue hires e.g. after-dark cinema, music gigs and evening Karate classes! We try running events at different times and days and testing out what works, to build up a programme based on the most popular visit times and our capacity (the full staff team is 7 FTE staff, two of which run the Public Engagement programme of events).Arnos Vale is a charitable trust and the cemetery is free access and reliant on donations, so we gain an essential income from ticketed entry to our events.Ticketing allows us to predict attendance rates and provide volunteer support accordingly, plus we can collect valuable visitor data through a booking system too - tracking repeat visits and where visitors to certain types of event tend to come from, have heard via, etc. We use Paypal and sell tickets through our volunteer-run shop and have crafted a bookings system from scratch. We also find it vital to theme events. It isn't enough just to extend opening times and see what happens, as building up a new visiting audience takes time and visitors will need persuading they should attend a calendar date that has been chosen by you for operational reasons!Theming an event therefore makes it a bit more special, and not part of your normal offer that visitors can get just anytime. This increases the odds that local press will pick up the publicity in their coverage of upcoming local events and it attracts the attention of visitors looking to do something to mark a particular calendar date. Remember that different visitors will come to different themed events and there may not be much cross-over between daytime and night-time audiences in some cases. But is this necessarily a bad thing? My final suggestion would be to tailor your night events to your museum's unique selling points. Arnos Vale was shortlisted last year in Museums at Night 's Connect10 competition to win Taxidermy Artist Polly Morgan for an after-hours demonstration. We lost out to a Natural History museum with a fantastic specimen collection - and a stronger USP! Top tip: Halloween is a popular time to visit a Victorian cemetery after dark, so we run lamplit tours!You can read more about Arnos Vale cemetery and what we do at www.arnosvale.org.uk or follow us on twitter: @arnosvalecem and facebook: Arnos Vale Cemetery .
Scott Mckenzie-Cook
Special Events Manager, Science Museum
17.12.2012, 12:54
We use a lot of social media as it seems to drive visitor numbers and is the appropriate media for our audiance (18-35). We also use listings, but very rarely advertise. We use social media on the night to keep visitors engaged.
Craig Fletcher
MA Member
Learning Manager, National Museums Scotland
17.12.2012, 12:49
Games and challenges can be another intersting and fun way to achieve this. For example, throwing a dice in the main host venue to determine where you will visit next. Transport can also be used as fun element of the event. For example, using rickshaws to take people between venues. N8 (Museums Nacht) in Amsterdam, although on a very large scale, is an interesting and innovative example of cultural institutions across the city working together in creative ways and also drive visits to lesser known areas of the city.
17.12.2012, 12:49
Following Scott's reason for holding his lates on a Wednesday, I think it's important to see what events take place in your local area on those evenings. I've always found that Fri and Sat are good days for families, and Fris are best for sleepovers.
17.12.2012, 12:45
Hi SarahGreat to have East Lothian on board! We have changed the dates of the festival in 2013 to include Thursday, dropping Sunday, because we think it will be a big 'going out with mates' day. MatN has a very even breakdown of families, mates and partner groups attending events but from next year we may see more events and activities geared towards mates' groups.
Scott Mckenzie-Cook
Special Events Manager, Science Museum
17.12.2012, 12:44
We do ours adult LAtes on a Wednesday as there is nothing else like it on a Wednesday in London. However Thursdays and Fridays are fairly popular. We generally don't do family evenings, but in terms of Sleepovers we find Friday's more popular for schools and weekends as famalies.
Scott Mckenzie-Cook
Special Events Manager, Science Museum
17.12.2012, 12:41
Well ours was themed on Space and attracted around 4,700 visitors.
Scott Mckenzie-Cook
Special Events Manager, Science Museum
17.12.2012, 12:40
Well MasterCard do sponsor a number of different Lates across London as part of they're Priceless Nights programme. We are also being approached by other sponsors to sponsor one of Lates, which is how we use to fund Lates before MasterCard. We also get a lot of support from existing sponsors at the Museum with support in kind, such as speakers or demos of new technology.
Claire Kirk
Adult Events Programme Manager, Museum of London
17.12.2012, 12:31
Hi Lyndsey. Sponsorship is probably the best way to make a one-off event sustainable (obviously this is MUCH easier said than done!). If that isn’t possible, ways of making a late night event income-generating aside from charging for entry, might be adding a bar to the event or keeping a shop (if you have one) open during the evening.
Claire Kirk
Adult Events Programme Manager, Museum of London
17.12.2012, 12:26
Hi Anna. Have you thought about trails or treasure hunts? A couple of years ago we did a successful Zombie-themed photo trail all over London with Shoot Experience. You could do something similar, themed around your own venues and collections. It might be a bit difficult in the dark but I’m sure there are ways of getting around that!
17.12.2012, 12:21
Hi LynseySustainable programme of late-night events is pretty much a mantra here! We try to encourage groups of venues to work together in clusters, which is what Laura did in Norfolk. Are there other venues in Birmingham you could join tog ether with?
17.12.2012, 12:16
If it is working, don't fix it. However if you now want to do something very different then it may be worth branding a new offer as 'Lates'. You seem to effectively be doing this already!
17.12.2012, 11:58
I think the development of museum lates make for a great project for students, particularly those studying Masters in Museum Studies. I'd give students the opportunity to help develop and promote an event that appeals to them and their peers - this gives students valuable experience, and also helps ensure the event will appeal to the target audience.
17.12.2012, 14:07
thanks Rebecca and everyone who took part!
Claire Kirk
Adult Events Programme Manager, Museum of London
17.12.2012, 14:03
I'm afriad I have to chip off now. Thanks for organising a really interesting discussion, Rebecca. And thanks to everyone for all the useful tips and advice!
17.12.2012, 13:58
Before this ends, I'd just like to say thanks for such a fascinating discussion. It's really great to hear about everyone's exciting late events and plans for late events. I think lates are a brilliant way in which to engage audiences as they're so unique and interesting, and I hope that we see many more of them in the future!
Claire Kirk
Adult Events Programme Manager, Museum of London
17.12.2012, 13:58
Thanks, Scott - very nice of you to say so! Yes, MOL worked with our youth panel, Junction, and University of the Arts London on our recent Londinium late (http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/London-Wall/Whats-on/Adult-events/LateMOL.htm). It was organised with the University's student unions events and exhibitions department. The students were excellent and I'd thoroughly reccomend trying something similar. The students submitted their ideas for activities to a panel of MOL and UAL staff, 7/8 were chosen and then we worked toegther with them on fine tuning their ideas. Definitely something we will be repeating in the future, in some form.
17.12.2012, 13:55
Can I just take this opportunity before the chat ends for a shameless plug! We've just announced an amazing list of artists for Connect10 2013. It's a chance to win one of ten contemporary artists to host an event at your venue during MatN 2013. It comes with £2,000 to help you put on the event. Find out all the details here: http://museumsatnight.wordpress.com/. Well it is a night event chat!
Craig Fletcher
MA Member
Learning Manager, National Museums Scotland
17.12.2012, 13:52
Agreed also. You will often find after the success of one event that new audiences, some you may not even have considered, will be drawn to the events as word spreads. In general people of all ages love the idea of doing something something exciting, unique and unusual after hours which makes museums the perfect venue for such events.
Claire Kirk
Adult Events Programme Manager, Museum of London
17.12.2012, 13:46
Yes, same here at MOL. I can't remember ever having a problem with late attendees. They're usually pretty well-behaved!
Nicholas Sturgess
MA Member
Alex Henshaw Curator, RAF Museum Cosford
17.12.2012, 13:45
Have also worked at another museum that was predominantly volunteer led that had regular weekend events with an evening aspect. The evening aspects though consisted of no new visitors coming in and it becoming more of a large drinking and dancing session for those already there with extra security. Not sure of the benefits other then re-enactor goodwill when there were potential some serious issues. Any thoughts?
Craig Fletcher
MA Member
Learning Manager, National Museums Scotland
17.12.2012, 13:45
Hi Rebecca. Security is certainly an issue to consider and at our Lates which cater for an audience of 2,000 we use a combination of our in-house Visitor Services Team who staff the galleries as they would during the day and hire in professional security staff to provide extra cover on the doors and a visible presence in the main galleries. We are also very clear with our responsible drinking policy and operate an ID required if you look under 25 policy. Any objects on open display that are a particular concern are roped off and we carry out vibration monitoring to ensure sound levels are at a safe level. In saying that our Lates audiences are always very well behaved and the events have a really good vibe about them.
Anonymous
17.12.2012, 13:44
Hi,Thanks Nick. I've had a look at these before. I do run M@N events, but this late is going to be in October and not part of that programme. Thanks
17.12.2012, 13:43
Hi Nicholas. I agree with you and Scott. The right events targeted at the right audience will capture people's imaginations and be a success. I've always found late events to be great audience development exercises as people are enticed to a museum because of the event, and then often return for a 'regular' visit to the museum.
17.12.2012, 13:42
Maybe the Museums at Night competition Connect10 is for you. It's a chance to win one of ten contemporary artists to host an event at your venue during MatN 2013. It comes with £2,000 to help you put on the event. Find out all the details here: http://museumsatnight.wordpress.com/
17.12.2012, 13:40
Thanks for organising - it's been a fascinating chat. I've had the same experience as Scott - no issues with bad behaviour, so I just use the same level of security as I would in the day.
17.12.2012, 13:39
Hello! I think that's a lovely idea. Although I've not worked with art/design students in this way before, I have worked with art/design students from the excellent Norwich University College of the Arts (www.nuca.ac.uk) who have designed flyers for me, and taken promotional photographs of events for me. The students I've worked with have been very willing to work with a local museum as it helps build their portfolio and add real-life work experience to their CV. I go through the Careers Adviser at NUCA. I allow students to retain copyright of the work (we share copyright), and I credit them on flyers etc where their work has been used.
17.12.2012, 13:38
That's interesting - so what do you think MasterCard and other companies get from 'Lates' sponsorship? How are they achieving their strategic marketing objectives through the event? Do we all have a valuable resource we can sell in these hard times?
Scott Mckenzie-Cook
Special Events Manager, Science Museum
17.12.2012, 13:37
Completely agre with this. If you have the right events then they will be a sell out and special events like your cockpit evenings sound great as visitors get at extra thing. Our sister museum the NAtional Railway Museum do a similar thing during the day with trains and access to them and its hugely popular.
Nicholas Sturgess
MA Member
Alex Henshaw Curator, RAF Museum Cosford
17.12.2012, 13:35
We get volunteers to help out with security and visitor interaction at our late night events. Though other members of staff are present as they would normally be.
17.12.2012, 13:34
I agree with Rebecca - low quality events may damage the reputation of a museum. I used to manage a small, independent museum with a very modest events budget. As I couldn't afford a big event, I put together a treasure hunt around the museum (the event was pirate-themed as we were located on the seafront) which was really simple, very cheap to deliver but was still enjoyable. If you don't have a lot of resources for events, you can still deliver fantastic events. There's no point delivering events that aren't up to scratch or they'll reflect badly on your museum.
Scott Mckenzie-Cook
Special Events Manager, Science Museum
17.12.2012, 13:34
Thanks for organising Rebecca. In terms of security we have the same level as during the day and do not operate bag searching. Visitors are very considerate at Lates and we have not had any issues with bad behaviuour.
Nicholas Sturgess
MA Member
Alex Henshaw Curator, RAF Museum Cosford
17.12.2012, 13:33
Hi all,For the last few years we've had an 'open cockpits' event on certain evenings and they've sold out within days of the tickets going on sale. I believe the success is down to people getting a bit extra from it and its not just 'come to the museum at night'. And it attracts everyone as well, there is no obvious demographic that comes to it.I've always thought that some museums, particularly independent museums could do quite a good trade in events and the like during the evenings if they have the space. There is certainly scope to make money and draw people in the exhibitions if the right events are held in my opinion.What do others think?
Claire Kirk
Adult Events Programme Manager, Museum of London
17.12.2012, 13:31
In terms of late night events for adults, I've found that it doesn't make a huge amount of difference which day of the week the event is held. Friday and Saturday nights are a little more competitive in terms of things going on elsewhere but then this is counter-balanced by the fact that these are the nights that adults are most likely to go out.
Rebecca Atkinson
MA Member
Online Publications Editor, Museums Association
17.12.2012, 13:31
It's great to see so many comments, questions and answers - we've got about half an hour left now, so keep them coming. I have a question about security - how much is this a concern with late night events?
Anonymous
17.12.2012, 13:29
Hello,Has anyone ever engaged art/design students in a Late? We are thinking of having an 'inspired by' section to our late, showcasing artworks or Instillations that students have produced in response to our collections. What is the best way to approach this please? In terms of approaching the art schools/colleges, should we aim to link this to student’s project work, or ask for interested students to volunteer? What are the best ways to attract art students to be involved (what’s in it for them etc)? Many Thanks
Rebecca Atkinson
MA Member
Online Publications Editor, Museums Association
17.12.2012, 13:27
I suppose it also depends on whether the event you are putting on is something people will pay for. And is there possibly a danger that a free event which isn't very good (because of a lack of resources to pay for things) could put people off the museum?
Craig Fletcher
MA Member
Learning Manager, National Museums Scotland
17.12.2012, 13:24
Hi Katy. Those with a strong theme always seem to be most successful. For example, 'Night of the Mummy', themed around our Fascinating Mummies exhibition was hugely popular in that much of the audience came with elements of dress or styling linked ot the Ancient Egypt theme. The pictures and videos from the night then generated a lot of excitement on social media which resulted in audiences really engaging with the themes at subesquent Lates.
Claire Kirk
Adult Events Programme Manager, Museum of London
17.12.2012, 13:18
Hi Rebecca. I would say that, to get the best results, you probably need to do both as part of an integrated strategy. They both have their strengths and can reach different audiences. Also printed media and traditional listings are often a good prompt for social media.
17.12.2012, 13:15
The most successful Victorian Nights events were a Victorian photo parlour at RNLI Henry Blogg Museum (www.rnli.org/henryblogg) (visitors dressed up in Victorian clothes and had their photos taken in a Victorian-themed parlour) and a Victorian open day (demonstrations of Victorian crafts, guided tours of the Maltings building and object handling) at Wells Maltings (http://wellsmaltings.org.uk). The photo parlour worked well because it was social, appealed to all age groups, involved dressing up (!) and visitors were sent their photo via email. The open day worked well because it had been really well marketed to the local Wells community and had a very local feel - e.g. local craftspeople were doing the demos and local volunteers led the guided tours.
Jennifer Broadbent
MA Member
Museum Manager, Rochdale Pioneers Museum or Toad Lane Museum
17.12.2012, 13:07
Hi Nick. I'll make sure I check out the Museums at Night resources. It would be great if you could send me the VistEngland report. Please send to museum@co-op.ac.uk. Thank you!
17.12.2012, 13:05
That's amazing! Congratulations. What activities were on offer?
17.12.2012, 13:00
Hi Jennifer, Lots of the venues I worked with this year were very small and ran events in the early evening. I think it's important to think about your audience - are you hoping to attract people who've just left work or families or young people etc? The event needs to be worked around this. Could you partner with a local restaurant/pub and offer a discounted meal there for people who come to your museum event to encourage people to stay in the area for longer during the evening?
Scott Mckenzie-Cook
Special Events Manager, Science Museum
17.12.2012, 12:59
I agree with Laura that income form donations, cafe and shop does increase during Lates. I would say that charging, in the case of the Science Museum wiuld have an affect on visitor numbers as (1) its been a free programme for 4 years and (2) there are a large number of other museums in London that don't charge.
17.12.2012, 12:55
Hi Jennifer - I can send you a report that VisitEngland have just produced including a case study from Museums at Night about how the festival can help boost the 'Night-time economy'. It might help you if advocating to local council etc for support. I would definitely recommend tying in as many of the cultural venues in the town as possible. We have some great resources on the Museums at Night blog http://museumsatnight.wordpress.com/resources-for-venues/
17.12.2012, 12:55
Thanks Sheela! Looking forward to hearing more about your future late events... :)
17.12.2012, 12:53
I love the idea of travelling by rickshaw to events!
Scott Mckenzie-Cook
Special Events Manager, Science Museum
17.12.2012, 12:51
Well our sponsorship with MasterCard came after we had built up the programme and the reputation for Lates. I think its important to develope a strong programme of events which you can sell to sponsors rather than just the museum being open late.
Claire Kirk
Adult Events Programme Manager, Museum of London
17.12.2012, 12:51
Hi Rachael. You could invite your curators or other collections specialists to give talks between courses. The Wellcome Collection used to do something similar, I think called ‘Supper Club’.
Sarah Cowie
MA Member
Museums Education Officer, East Lothian Council
17.12.2012, 12:50
Thanks Nick. Excited to be part of it in 2013!
Claire Kirk
Adult Events Programme Manager, Museum of London
17.12.2012, 12:49
Hi Rita. The issue of lots of museums opening on the same night is a really interesting one. I would say it works as long as the audience isn't spread too thinly. I agree with Laura that Museums at Night works because it attracts such a large audience that tends to go to local venues. We've run events linked to Museums at Night for the past 3 years and they've always been very well-attended.
Anonymous
MA Member
17.12.2012, 12:49
Thanks Laura. All great advice! Sheela Joy - Centre for Life.
Sarah Cowie
MA Member
Museums Education Officer, East Lothian Council
17.12.2012, 12:48
Hi ScottThanks, that's a good point actually, to check what's offered elsewhere that evening for adults nearby! Will get on that now!
Jennifer Broadbent
MA Member
Museum Manager, Rochdale Pioneers Museum or Toad Lane Museum
17.12.2012, 12:48
Hi everyone,Great topic! We are a small museum in the centre of Rochdale. Rochdale itself is keen to develop its 'twighlight economy' as it currently has people in to shop during the day but then a gap in the early evening/evening as the pub/club trade doesn't get going until around midnight! We are keen to tie-in and help develop this twightlight trade for the town. If any similar small or town centre museums have any tips on running events/opening in this early evening slot I'd be very keen to hear your ideas and tips
17.12.2012, 12:46
Themes - I think themes are a great way of branding your event so your audience has an idea about what they can expect from it. Themes also help to tie an event together and make it into a great visitor experience.
Rebecca Mileham
MA Member
Freelance text consultant, Rebecca Mileham
17.12.2012, 12:45
For adult late-night events, does social media spread the word faster than traditional listings, or do they still work best for promotion?
17.12.2012, 12:42
Thanks for the questions. In response:- Printed flyers have always worked best for me as long as they're distributed to key places which are visited by your target audience - shops, cafes etc. Word of mouth is also great, so make sure your staff and volunteers are spreading the word! For your target age group, I'd also suggest Twitter as it's great for sharing information and for receiving comments about your event before, during and after it's taken place.- Re: cultivating a following: Could you market your late events together so people view them as a programme, rather than one-off events? Could you offer discounts for people who attend more than one event? Could you make use of social media to help? For example, make a Facebook page for fans of your late nights, thus creating a community of people who get to know each other and want to come back to your events to see people they know and experience a quality night out?- I've never found it easy to attract an audience in the summer, but a good theme (e.g. seaside etc) might help. There must be local adults who would love to experience your events.- Make sure evaluation of your events includes finding out how much people spend in the local economy, for example, if they go to eat out before coming to your event. If you can prove to local businesses that your event is helping bring in money for them, they're more likely to provide sponsorship. Could you also find a sponsor who has a link with the theme of your event?
Sarah Cowie
MA Member
Museums Education Officer, East Lothian Council
17.12.2012, 12:39
We're about to host our first Museum at Nights weekend of events across all our 5 museums and we're thinking about making the Thursday 'adult events' and the Fri-Sat for families. What nights do you find work best for families/adults?
Craig Fletcher
MA Member
Learning Manager, National Museums Scotland
17.12.2012, 12:38
Agreed. At National Museums Scotland working in partnership with Edinburgh Napier University Events Management students has been integral to the success of our Late series. The students have benefitted through direct prectical experience and this has helped us in terms of relieving pressure on staffing etc. It has also been great having a willing forum of younger people who we can bounce ideas off during the planning phase, especially in terms of areas we are keen to develop such as social media interaction with the events.
Scott Mckenzie-Cook
Special Events Manager, Science Museum
17.12.2012, 12:36
Themes - We have always themed our Lates at the Science Museum as we need to ensure that we have a different programme of events each night. We get between 3,000 and 4,500 visitors per Lates, of which a large percentage are repeat visitors and come 4-5 nights a year. Themeing also allows us to tie in with Gallery or Exhibition Openings and key aniversaries.Popular themes, like sex or space do drive visitor numbers up considerably.
Katy Jackson
MA Member
Community and Outreach Officer, The Wiener Library
17.12.2012, 12:34
Hi everyone,I'd like to know what your most successful late-night event has been so far? Thanks, Katy
Anonymous
MA Member
17.12.2012, 12:33
Hi Scott. Do you have any advice on avenues to look into if looking for sponsorship? Thanks, Sheela Joy - Centre for Life, Newcastle.
17.12.2012, 12:33
Sponsorship is one answer to keeping ticket prices down, do you think there are more sponsors like Mastercard around interested in financially supporting 'Lates'?!
17.12.2012, 12:32
Interesting questions! In response:- I think that museums across the country running late night events on the same evenings is a great thing, as it captures the public's imagination, and is more likely to be picked up by the press. I don't think there's too much competition as, from my experience, Museums at Night visitors tend to be local people who go to their nearest museum. Cluster events, where lots of cultural venues in one town/city/region come together to each run events on the same evening are great as people are more likely to leave the house if they know they can attend a few events at once, rather than just one thing.- I love Museums at Night, and think programmes such as this really help to raise awareness. It's great for small museums that don't have a lot of money for marketing can at least promote their event via the Culture 24 database even if they can't afford to produce printed materials.- I don't think any type of event is better/more popular than another. The key is to produce an event that fits your venue and your target audience.- See my above comments about free v paid events - I think they're both very valid!- The evaluation we did for Victorian Nights (www.victoriannightsnorthnorfolk.com) showed that 91% of visitors (60% of whom had been first time visitors to the venues) intended to visit again in normal opening hours. I think this is mirrored across other M@N events too. Great audience development initiative!
Scott Mckenzie-Cook
Special Events Manager, Science Museum
17.12.2012, 12:29
In terms of charging entery, the Science Museum Lates have never charged entery, but do charge nominal fees (£1-3) for events to cover the cost of those events. We were successful in get sponsorship from MasterCard a year ok. Wo would prefer to give free access to the collections on the night.
17.12.2012, 12:28
60% of events in MatN 2012 had a ticket price. If you are offering something different people appreciate it and are usually willing to pay. If you take part regularly you do have to refresh your offer
17.12.2012, 12:24
I love the idea of a pop up restaurant! Could you have some items that are suitable for handling out on tables? These would make great discussion points! Members of staff and volunteers could be on hand at each table to ensure the safety of the objects, initiate discussion and answer questions. Could you offer visitors a discounted visit to the museum on their next entry to encourage them to come back and see your brilliant collections?
Claire Kirk
Adult Events Programme Manager, Museum of London
17.12.2012, 12:24
I agree with Laura. We've just had a late which was a partnership between Museum of London and students from University of the Arts London on the theme of Roman London. They developed and delivered all the activities and brought along a huge student crowd. Some of the student activity leaders were so good, I've booked them for future events.
Anonymous
MA Member
17.12.2012, 12:23
That's really interesting. It's hard to know what people are willing to pay. At The Centre for Life we've charged between nothing and £5 but never higher than that. It would be worth considering upping the ticket charge to help cover costs. Thanks, Sheela Joy.
17.12.2012, 12:21
I agree with Nick and Claire. People will pay for entrance if it's a quality event and they feel they're getting value for money. I think you just need to keep your audience goals in mind - if you are looking to develop new audiences for whom paying for events is a barrier, you might want to offer free entry. Interestingly, some museums I worked with this year all offered free entry, but made a good sum of money via donations, selling refreshments and from people buying items from their shops (where applicable). One museum I worked with had nearly 400 visitors (their usual events attract approx. 30-40 people) and they made more than they usually would from admission fees in donations.
Katy Jackson
MA Member
Community and Outreach Officer, The Wiener Library
17.12.2012, 12:19
Would be an interesting experiment to see if it makes a difference to visitor numbers!
17.12.2012, 12:15
I'm currently trying to ensure the sustainability of Victorian Nights, a Museums at Night festival I managed in North Norfolk this May. From experience, I'd say:- Evaluate this year's event thoroughly, particularly looking at visitor spend at Thinktank and in the local economy. Local businesses and organisations are usually more willing to give money if they know the event is having a big impact on the local economy.- Could you encourage more partners to come on board? If you got, say, 4 partners, who each put in £50/100 for marketing (which, in my experience, is the biggest cost), you'd then be able to produce a really wide-reaching marketing campaign. (And, of course, there's all the free avenues, like getting the local press on board).- Could you create a 'late-night' event committee with local people who are interested in developing skills and could help programme and develop your events? Getting lots of local support is a great way in which to make events sustainable.
Katy Jackson
MA Member
Community and Outreach Officer, The Wiener Library
17.12.2012, 12:12
Hi Nick, we do have an evening events programme (lectures, panel discussions, film screenings) that usually finish around 8.30pm. Haven't branded them as 'lates', do you think it makes it difference to market them that way in terms of attracting new visitors? Other minor issue is our sensitive subject matter (Holocaust and genocide) so it's not necessarily suitable to have an all-nighter!
Claire Kirk
Adult Events Programme Manager, Museum of London
17.12.2012, 12:11
I agree with Nick, charging doesn't seem to have had an affect on numbers at MOL either. We charge a £7 entrance fee which, if we get 650 - 700 people, covers our costs. Ticketing allows us to know at least slightly far in advance how many people to expect and allows us to continue producing high-quality events. I think people don’t mind paying if they feel like they’re getting value for money.
17.12.2012, 12:09
I recently managed Victorian Nights (www.victoriannightsnorthnorfolk.com), a Museums at Night festival which ran over 8 cultural venues (heritage sites, museums and a theatre) in North Norfolk. We came up with a theme for our event - the Victorians, as North Norfolk expanded rapidly during this era and some of the sites' collections fit with the era - and each venue hosted an event that fit with the theme. All the events were marketed as one package, which really appealed to visitors who felt it more worthwhile to go to several events, rather than just one. We got over 3,00 visitors (the participating towns have a total population of 18,000) and made £50,000 for the local economy - the events were free (as we were lucky enough to receive funding from the HLF) but people tended to spend £20 on donations, items from museum shops and on food, drink, parking etc.You might like to take the same approach. Is there a theme that links your museums and collections? Could you then devise several, smaller events that run in each of your venues and fit with the theme? The events can be marketed together so visitors want to visit every venue in order to experience your event as a whole. Visitors could be encouraged to visit all the venues by giving them a passport, or doing a prize draw for people who've visited every event. Incorporate your collections into as many events as possible using, as you suggest, travelling cases with objects in. If it's impossible to show your collections at some venues, could you ask local art or textiles students to create something that is inspired by your collections and fits with your theme?
17.12.2012, 12:08
That's an interesting experience in terms of charging Nick. Of course £12 is still very good value!
17.12.2012, 12:06
Katy - If you've never tried 'lates' before start off with something manageable like extending by a couple of hours then maybe work towards more activities. A common misconception about Museums at Night is that you have to put events on into the small hours, you don't.
Scott Mckenzie-Cook
Special Events Manager, Science Museum
17.12.2012, 12:06
Afternoon Everyone
Nick Hewitt
Head of Attractions and Collections, Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust
17.12.2012, 12:05
Re. timings - ww go all night but the activities finish by eleven usually, then it's roll out the sleeping bags.
Nick Hewitt
Head of Attractions and Collections, Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust
17.12.2012, 12:04
re. charging: really interesting one this. In 2011 we were lucky enough to get Sky Arts sponsorship allowing us to charge just £3 for our MAN sleepover. In 2012 we had to raise this to £12 as we had no sponsorship and the event is pretty staff-intensive. We crossed our fingers big time but much to our surprise this had absolutely no effect on our numbers at all, and this is not an affluent area.
Claire Kirk
Adult Events Programme Manager, Museum of London
17.12.2012, 12:04
Re:timings. Museum of London lates usually finish at around 10pm but some places go later (or indeed all night).
Nick Hewitt
Head of Attractions and Collections, Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust
17.12.2012, 12:02
@Katy we do organise events though, usually a carousel of activities for children around the galleries, plus food.
Claire Kirk
Adult Events Programme Manager, Museum of London
17.12.2012, 12:01
We theme all our late events (that is late openings, with activities, bar, music etc) and find it gives the event a stronger identity. It also helps promote the event, especially if the theme is seasonal (i.e. Halloween, Valentine) or linked to an exhibition you might have on.
Nick Hewitt
Head of Attractions and Collections, Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust
17.12.2012, 12:01
Re.audiences: we have a regular following now for our after-hours products; it's the same families at our sleepovers, fireworks display etc. To be honest we have probably reached the limits of the capacity our small team can manage. We would start to refersh the offer if we pick up warning signs that our regulars are losing interest. We solicit feedback every time to monitor this.
17.12.2012, 12:00
Museums at Night doesn't insist on a theme. The idea being to leave it flexible for each venue to decide.
Katy Jackson
MA Member
Community and Outreach Officer, The Wiener Library
17.12.2012, 11:59
Hello everyone!I'd like to know what works best in terms of late-night events - just opening doors til late or organising a specific event with a theme and something going on such as entertainment, food/drink or special speaker. Additionally, how late-night should late-night be? Thanks!
Nick Hewitt
Head of Attractions and Collections, Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust
17.12.2012, 11:57
Thought I might start with theming - personally I think it's nice to do but not necessary, we ran a themed sleepover at Halloween but our MAN offer is more generic, it doesn't seem to affect popularity.
Claire Kirk
Adult Events Programme Manager, Museum of London
17.12.2012, 11:55
Hello everyone.
17.12.2012, 11:55
Hi, I'm in!
17.12.2012, 11:54
Good afternoon!
Nick Hewitt
Head of Attractions and Collections, Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust
17.12.2012, 11:52
Good afternoon everyone!
Andy Lloyd
MA Member
Special Projects Manager, Centre for Life
17.12.2012, 11:38
*Continued*In your experience do you find giving your events a theme works better than just opening your doors to the public?I’m also interested in other people’s comment on turning Late events into sustainable year round programs.Thanks again.Sheela Joy – Public Engagement Project Coordinator, Centre for Life, Newcastle.
Anonymous
MA Member
17.12.2012, 11:36
Good afternoon all.Many thanks for putting together this panel. I may not be able to be there at 12pm due to other commitments but I look forward to reading your comments.We organise Late night events here at the Centre for Life in Newcastle, but not on a very regular basis. We are predominantly visited by family and school groups but are trying to engage with an adult market, specifically 18-34s. If you could take the time to address the below it would be much appreciated.-What methods of marketing do you find work best in attracting an audience? For the last event we did we found we attracted mostly new visitors but would like to cultivate a following as well as bringing in new faces. Does anyone have advice on this?-We attract a lot of students and therefore tend to avoid organising events in the summer months when they are typically away. Do you find you are able to attract an audience in the summer?-We also find that they are expensive to run and although we aim to break even, we don’t make enough is just selling tickets and cocktails to do so. I’d like to look for sponsorship and would welcome any advice on who best to approach and any other tips for securing sponsorship. -Do you use an online ticketing service to sell tickets to your Late events? Can anyone recommend a good, reasonable priced service for online ticketing? -We tend to theme each event; examples we’ve used in the past are Identity, Halloween, Secrets and Lies, Sex Drugs and Rock
17.12.2012, 05:03
Thank you for the very interesting articles and case studies.Late-night events are a great way to engage the visitors and provide access to the collections outside normal opening hours. In the UK, most museums seem to be running their regular late-night programs on the same night. Do you think it helps in terms of promotion and how do the museums manage the competition for the same audience? Do you think that events such as Museums at Night, Festival of Museums and La nuit des Musées help increase awareness and the impact of such initiatives?Some museums run two types of late-nights: the normal weekly extended hours as well as monthly late-night events. Have you noticed a difference in attendance between the two types of late-nights (age group, expectations)?Often late-night events include guided tours, talks, activities, workshops. Is there one type of programs which stands out as the favourite (most attended)? Most events are free, with charges applying for specific programs. Do you think people are happy to pay for a program knowing that it is part of a bigger event and a fun evening? Or do people attend mostly free events? It was interesting to read about Sir John Soane’s Museum’s initiative (candle-lit exclusive event). These events are attracting new-comers and younger audiences. Has there been any evaluation showing whether these visitors return to the museums during normal opening hours? I won’t be able to join you in your discussion today between 12pm and 2pm because of time difference but I look forward to your comments and to reading more about it. Cheers.
Rachael Rogers
MA Member
Curator, Monmouthshire Museums Service
14.12.2012, 16:08
We have just held our first pop up restaurant in one of our galleries. It was interesting that participants treated it as a restaurant experience, ie chatted over drinks and then after dinner at the table, rather than looking at the displays. Feedback was unanimous that they didn't want entertainment and preferred to chat so at future events I am reluctant to coerce them in to looking round but do you have ideas as to how we can make the collection a little more central to the event? It's a small venue with 3 small galleries. The one they fine in holds up to 40 guests. Thanks
13.12.2012, 12:01
Here at Thinktank we are running our first 'late-night' event next year with an external partner as a piolt project. We would like to know how best to move this one off event into a sustainable programme?
Anonymous
13.12.2012, 10:25
University of Aberdeen Museums would like to start hosting annual lates for young adults *our student community in particular. However, we have an issue with venues. The university has several museum venues, but none of them are large enough to host the event and they are spread around campus. We want to localise the event to one location. There are a number of lecture halls/conference hall and a marquee on a lawn that we could use. However, then our collections and displays are not included. At best we could relocate some travelling cases for the night. I’d really like some advice please on how to run a successful late, that still makes the link to the museums and collections evident, when you don’t have a nice big museum venue to use and have to split the event over several locations – that are not the museum? Many ThanksAnna Shortland, Curator Learning and Access
12.12.2012, 19:27
My question to the panel would be:How can museums promote more of these events in order to engage more students with increasing interest in attending seminars and social exchanges so that they share a common platform with professionals in the field?
12.12.2012, 19:25
I think a successful late night event should collaboratively include visitors who cannot view collections during the day as well as mediums of social interactions. I don't think it changes the perception of the venue as I feel there is a need to encourage more of these social exchanges within a museum and exhibition context in order to promote dialogue, network and share a common platform to exchange ideas, opinions and thoughts.. Overall, it's an excellent way to promote a particular exhibit as well as instigate some form of discussion.