Thursday, May 18, 2006
The Night Museum
Going to look at some art or artifacts often seems a lot more enticing when there's a social element to things. I imagine this is part of the reason why private views are so popular (though the free booze undoubtedly helps too) - you can catch up with your friends and meet people while checking out an exhibition.
In the past couple of years after-hours gallery events have become a bigger thing. Art galleries in the world's urbs have started periodically opening their doors for late-night perusing, often accompanied by a musical performance, live art gig or other entertainment. This seems like a win-win to me... the museums get a much-needed injection of hipness and a way to attract more customers; we get more opportunities to see those exhibitions we'd end up missing otherwise. Museums and galleries are mostly open during the work day, and our weekends are already packed with other culturally-edifying activities (lolling around outside the pub drinking beer, lolling around on the couch watching T4, etc.) And looking at art or other exhibitions in these settings just seems more relaxed, less intimidating and, somehow, not such a big deal.
Over in NYC, the Brooklyn Museum's First Saturdays have been an enormous hit, and down south they've got Late at Tate and The V&A's much-heralded Friday Late programme. I haven't heard about anything like this in Manc, except for a few one-offs like the birthday Live Art events in the Cornerhouse galleries last October. The Manchester Art Gallery did have one late night event like this a year or two ago. It was some cocktail and looking at art thingy put on by an outside events company, I think - but it was invite only (like most of the private views in town ... which i think is really too bad. Why should these things be closed to all but the self-appointed cultural elite? If opening them up to the public means they have to charge for drinks, so be it.)
So I was delighted to hear about The Social at Urbis, a series of different music nights, live lit readings and performances. Unfortunately, the galleries close at 8pm Th-S so you can't look at art while the events are going on (they're held in that long, thin cafe down the side) but they have a new menu so at least you can get some dinner and enjoy a drink.
And, right on cue, it's Nuit des Musees across Europe this Saturday, May 20. In Paris this is a big deal, with practically every museum staying open til the wee hours. Here in Manchester, we get the Manchester Museum staying open til...gasp! 9 o'clock. Oh, and the Hat Works in Stockport is also open later than usual. Yup, it's all going on in the 24-hour city.
(purple urbis shot from pictures of england)