As part of the Europe-wide campaign, Museums at Night bursts into the lives of everyone across the UK from Wednesday 13th to Saturday 16th May 2015, the weekend closest to International Museum Day on the 18th of May. Hundreds of museums, galleries, libraries and other cultural institutions up and down the country will be participating, with most of the capital’s taking part in not only opening late, but putting on special events to celebrate. From literary talks and concerts to behind-the-scenes tours, dance events and even some sleepovers, this is your chance to see exhibits, and indeed the city itself, from a different perspective. We’ve highlighted some of the events happening in London.
The Wellcome Collection has always been a draw and a delight for those with a leaning towards to morbidly fascinating. An intriguing temporary exhibit on show is ‘Forensics: the Anatomy of Crime’, cataloguing the history, science and indeed art of forensic medicine. Tracing the journey from crime scene to courtroom, covering centuries and continents and unveiling the highly specific expertise of those involved in collating, analysing and submitting medical evidence, Forensics tells the tales of perpetrators as much as victims while highlighting the talent and craft of those investigating.
Justice of a different sort is on show at ‘Behind the Scenes at the UK Supreme Court’, a special late opening including some live jazz and a glass of wine for every ticket holder. Court Ushers and Judicial Assistants give away back-door insider info on what you don’t see during a hearing, what working for a Supreme Court Justice involves, there will be a contemporary play production, and so much more - booking is essential for this one, as it fills up early.
Following just a week after the General Election, the Nights at the Museum is a timely opportunity to drop by the Mad Men and Bad Men exhibition and talk at the Museum of Brands and Advertising. Addressing the interweaving between UK politics and the advertising industry, writer Sam Delaney - who has first-hand experience in both - will explain the stories behind the campaigns of the last four British elections. Surprising, shocking and potentially scandalous, this promises to be very enlightening.
Go with the flow at the London Museum of Water and Steam: this 19th century pumping station will be filled with colourful lights and live jazz music, engines will be illuminated, you can ride an actual locomotive, and there will be a well-stocked bar serving all night. World champion harmonica player Greg Miller will be playing and the Museum galleries will of course be open late for viewing.
For something little more conventional, why not learn about how the greats have got their subjects down pat over time with a lecture on ‘Sargent’s Methods for Painting Portraits’, delivered by artistic and scientific by conservation specialists from the Tate to let you discover the methods and materialised by Sargent for his oil masterpieces. The much-loved Horniman Museum encourages you to engage with nature at night and find out for yourselves how artists have always been inspired by fauna and flora to create their responses to the world around them. From taxidermy to nature films, live music and street artists painting wildlife, dance, tours, cocktails, food and more, as the museum says, discover how “nature is so hot it's cool”.
On the more grizzly side of the scale, Night of the Bodysnatcher will explain the tricks surgeons and anatomy students had to resort to to gain access to corpses to study and work on in the 18th and 19th centuries. A lecture delivered in the dark atmosphere of the Old Operating Theatre will unveil the gruesome profession of the Resurrectionists - men who supplied the dissecting rooms of London from the graves of the city for just such purposes.
For European Literature Night 2015: the writers, the British Library will be hosting six European writers for six different countries for a feast of fiction, poetry and short stories from Naja Marie Aidt (Denmark), Andrea Bajani (Italy), Jesús Carrasco (Spain), Evald Flisar (Slovenia), Wioletta Greg (Poland) and Yasmina Khadra (France) in conversation with journalist Rosie Goldsmith. These and many many more events will take place over the course of the entire weekend, so make sure you don’t miss out and book now!
If you’re not planning on sleeping over at one of the museums, Amba Hotel Charing Cross is close-by with super comfy beds to reward all your culture vulture efforts and help you get back on your feet for more exploring around London.