There’s a certain fascination with what goes on in a museum after dark. Countless books have been written on the subject. Ben Stiller got three movies out of it. And this weekend, museums across the UK are gearing up to give us another look behind their doors after hours for the bi-annual Museum at Night festival. So, why are we so captivated by these cultural institutions when they close for the evening?
“I think we are all fascinated and intrigued, even a bit scared, by the idea of the night and exploring the dark,” says Lauren Parker, senior commissioning curator at the Museum of London. “Spaces, and our experiences of them, are transformed at night, and museums are such beautiful and evocative spaces for our imaginations to go wild.”
Lauren curated ‘Night Museum’ the Museum of London’s mini season of exhibitions, installations and events, which opens on 29 October.
Late night parties, twilight tours, artist commissions, pop-up bars and installations are all part of a programme that explores different facets of our experience after dark; with a particular emphasis on bringing parts of London’s lost nightlife back to life. The Night Museum programme is split into three free public events, kicking off with The Museum of Lost Sounds; a unique look at the relationship between music, sound, film and art.
Produced in partnership with the Illuminations Festival, the event features everything from sound and light installations to live performances from musicians and DJ’s, including the debut of producer Forest Sword’s new experimental dance piece. The Museum of Dark Places is a series of night walks and talks billed as “a journey of discovery into the dark heart of the city”. It is followed by the Museum of Last Parties, an attempt to revive the iconic clubs and nightspots that London has lost.
The Disco Apocalypse is presented as the last nightclub on earth, with DJ’s Wayne and Jack Hemingway, Martin Green and Bishi and vintage visuals from Julian Hand, lightshow artist, and video artist Susanne Dietz. Curated by Andrew Rutland (of performance collective Shunt) and Martin Green, one of the founders of of 90s nightclub Smashing, the event will also feature a roundtable discussion about the future of London’s nightlife amidst the high profile closure of some of its favourite night clubs.
“London’s night economy is a hot topic,” Lauren says. “With the uncertainty around Fabric’s future and the arrival of the Night Tube, a lot is changing. It has been great to have the opportunity to explore this in different ways.”
The Museum of London’s ‘Night Museum’ runs from 29 October to 4 November.