On Wednesday 17th August, 22 Birmingham Museums staff got on a coach to Yorkshire Sculpture Park to see the Night in the Museum exhibition and visit the Arts Council Collection team based there. This is all in preparation for Night in the Museum coming to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in November, which also launches our three year programme of exhibitions with the Arts Council Collection as part of their National Partners Programme.
We had people from all over the museum on the trip – curatorial, exhibitions, retail, marketing, PR, development, collections, technical, learning, commercial, front of house and engagement. It felt a bit like organising a school trip as we checked everyone on our list was on the coach before we set off!
After a very quick drive from Birmingham to Yorkshire (with no traffic it’s much closer than you think), we turned off the motorway onto a steep, winding country lane. Our driver had switched a full-size coach for a smaller one which she was very pleased about! The Arts Council Collection team is partly based at Longside Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which is situated approximately 20 minutes’ walk from the main visitor centre and car park, so we decided to head straight to Longside Gallery to start our day.
The Arts Council Collection team welcomed us all with tea, coffee and biscuits and Natalie Rudd (Senior Curator) talked us through the Arts Council Collection at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the National Partners Programme and Night in the Museum. Then we went to have a look around the Night in the Museum exhibition, which was wonderful.
The exhibition is curated by leading contemporary British artist Ryan Gander and is based around the idea that at night, the sculptures in a museum come to life and explore their surroundings. All of the sculptures in the exhibition are placed as if intently looking at another piece of art. We all really enjoyed the exhibition and it was interesting how ‘alive’ the sculptures felt as we wandered through the space.
After lunch we split into groups to discuss the exhibition in more depth with the Arts Council Collection team. There was a technical and front of house group, one for development, retail, PR and marketing, one curatorial and exhibition, and a learning and engagement group. Seeing the exhibition and having these in-depth discussions was fantastically helpful for everyone as we were really able to get a sense of exactly what will be coming to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in November and also what challenges there might be.
As our meetings finished, each team went to explore Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It was a really hot and sunny day so perfect for enjoying the sculptures placed in a landscape of fields, parkland and lakes. A complete contrast to Birmingham city centre! We all gathered together again at 5pm to get our coach back to Birmingham, with a few ice creams and cold drinks to cool down.
It was a really fascinating and useful day as it was a great chance to meet another organisation, really get to grips with Night in the Museum, and spend a day together as a Birmingham Museums team. All-in-all it was very successful and we definitely intend to organise more days like this for future exhibitions.
The Night in the Museum exhibition is at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery from 26 November 2016 until 12 February 2017.
Image credits: Installation view at Longside Gallery © the artists. Arts Council Collection, London