As Museums At Night kicks off, 4 museums around the UK you need to see after hours

16th May 18 | Lifestyle

The twice-annual festival encourages heritage spots to keep their doors open after dark.

Things of Beauty Growing - Fitzwilliam Museum

Most of us are used to visiting museums during the day, which can be a pain when you work nine to five, and can only see new exhibitions on the weekend.

However, between May 16-19 many UK museums, galleries, libraries and heritage sites will be keeping their doors open long after their usual closing times.

It’s thanks to Museums At Night, a twice-yearly festival organised by not-for-profit publisher Culture24. Radio presenter Lauren Laverne calls it: “A fantastic opportunity for museums and galleries to get together to put on events that allow us to celebrate our heritage in new and exciting ways – perhaps discovering a cultural gem on our doorstep that we didn’t even know existed.”

With the festival kicking off, we’ve picked some of the most exciting museums putting on events for the occasion. And don’t worry if you miss out this time round, because the festival is back again around Halloween.

1. The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

What’s happening?

The museum will be showing its two current exhibitions, Things of Beauty Growing: British Studio Pottery and Flux: Parian. There will also be Arts Council England-commissioned films on show, curator-led handling sessions with specific objects, and a demonstration of a pottery wheel.

This, coupled with guitar and harp performances accompanied by cocktails and nibbles, will make for a pretty memorable evening.

Why should you go?

Our spring exhibition ‘Things of Beauty Growing’ is now open. Here we see artist Halima Cassell (b.1975) installing her own artwork entitled ‘Virtues of Unity’. This is an ever growing installation, each piece carved from clay sourced from countries across the globe, each presenting a different colour and texture. It is a reflection of the human race as one species, despite our differences in cultural background or skin colour. Things of Beauty Growing explores the development of British Studio pottery, focusing on different types of vessel and explores the origins and inspiration of the pieces on display. Exhibition open until 17th June 2018. #britishstudiopottery #britishceramics #britishartist #pottery #ceramics #newexhibition #behindthescenes @halimacassell

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The Fitzwilliam is one of the most prestigious antiquities museums in the country, and with all those columns, it truly is an imposing building – you can only imagine how cool it looks after dark. It’s pulled out all the stops for the festival too – rather than just extending opening hours, you’ll be treated to all manner of special activities. It’s a chance to get up close and personal with the artefacts; something you’re not able to do during the day.

When, where and how much?

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May 16, from 5pm until late at Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1RB. All ages are welcome and entry is free.

2. Newport Street Gallery, London

What’s happening?

Not only will you be able to visit the gallery after hours and see the two current exhibitions (John Copeland’s “Your Heaven Looks Just Like My Hell” and Rachel Howard’s “Repetition Is Truth – Via Dolorosa”), but as an extra treat, Howard will be giving a tour of her own exhibition.

Afterwards, head of exhibitions Robyn Katkhuda will be taking you through Copeland’s work.

Why should you go?

The Newport Street Gallery is one of the best art museums in London that you’ve probably never been to. Set up by Damien Hirst, it features his personal art collection and was opened in 2015.

If you haven’t visited before, what better time than on a spring evening? It gives you an opportunity to see the amazing exhibitions, while learning more about them than you would perusing the pieces on your own.

Mark Hix restaurant Pharmacy 2 is normally open in the building until 6pm, but will be taking evening reservations. Eat dinner amongst some of Hirst’s most iconic works, including the Medicine Cabinets and butterfly Kaleidoscope paintings.

When, where and how much?

May 16, 6pm-9pm, Newport Street, London, SE11 6AJ. All ages welcome and entry is free.

3. Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Bristol

What’s happening?

The whole museum will be open to the public, including the current Grayson Perry Exhibition, The Vanity Of Small Differences.

Catch performances, including a dance display and some incredible costumes. You’ll also be able to chat to a drag queen, grab a drink, and create the perfect selfie in a photobooth.

Why should you go?

The late night is themed around identity, class and gender – which are all incredibly relevant right now. Not only will it be hugely entertaining (the museum notes that the drag queen Aida H Dee will be mingling with the crowd and “her favourite colour is glitter”), but it will also challenge your ideas and show you new ways of thinking.

Museums are often considered to be stuffy and humourless, but Bristol is giving off a party vibe with DJs, music and drinks throughout the night.

When, where and how much?

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May 16, 7.30pm-10pm at Queens Road, Bristol, BS8 1RL. People aged 16+ are welcome. Entry is free but donations are welcome.

4. Gallery Of Modern Art (GoMA), Glasgow

What’s happening?

I pretend to understand art ✨🏛🌆💡 #goma #glasgow #modernart #gallery #holidays

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Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art is one of the biggest venues on this list, and as you can probably imagine, has a whole lot going on. All four of its galleries will be open (including exhibitions like Cellular World and Polygraphs: Truth), and will be accompanied by a specific activity to really bring each subject matter to life.

Why should you go?

Not long now #AfterDark #GI2018

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Not only will there be a lot to see and do over the evening, but if you’re in Glasgow you should definitely visitfor the views. The top floor artists’ Studio will feature live music, and you’ll be able to see the city’s panorama at night – which gives you a completely different perspective than during the day.

When, where and how much?

#GoMA looking resplendent in the sun #Glasgow

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May 17, 5pm-7.30pm at Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow, Strathclyde, G1 3AH. Entry is free, over 18s only.

© Press Association 2018