Blog: Sharing global ideas on museum Lates

Published: 3 May 2018

Author: Nick Stockman
Blog: Sharing global ideas on museum Lates

A Churchill Fellowship is all about legacy, they say. With this in mind, I am organising a conference based on the learning from my research on ‘Museum Lates’ at the National Gallery on Friday 1 June.

If it wasn’t intimidating enough that the venue is the pre-eminent icon of visual arts in the land, or that the conference subject matter has never been tried before as a focus for a one-day industry event, the room is absolutely enormous! There must be easier ways to achieve legacy.

So far so daunting, but actually so exciting - and very much needed as Lates (after-hours events in museums and galleries) are about to come of age. They started at the V&A in 2001 – so they are approaching their eighteenth birthday. Appropriately, we have the very person who initiated the events back then speaking at our conference - though we won’t be revealing their identity until the day itself.

Lates are a great way to attract new audiences into museums and galleries, and at a time when attendances in some museums are levelling, or worse falling, it’s really important we invest some time into thinking about how we can develop this strand of programming. That’s why the conference will feature Kim Streets, Chief Executive of Museums Sheffield, talking about how they have expanded their Lates programme; and Neil Mendoza, who last year wrote a review of museums in England for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, looking at new ways to maintain institutions’ financial stability.

Below: a DJ entertains the crowds at Melbourne Museum’s Nocturnal (c) Nick Stockman

A DJ entertains the crowds at Melbourne Museum's 'Nocturnal'

The Churchill Fellowship has opened so many doors for me. While I was away, I met fantastic people in Mexico, Russia and Australia and I’m so chuffed that two of them, Tatiana Getman from the State Tretyakov Museum in Moscow and Ashlie Hunter from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, will be joining us to give us the benefit of their wisdom on the day.

The conference is also going to be a lot of fun. In Sydney I met Tim Ross, one of Australia’s best-known TV personalities, and he has agreed to talk about how the shows he produces and stars in, which are filmed in twentieth-century modernist buildings, are transforming heritage interpretation. We’ve also persuaded Sam Bompas to appear. He produces some of this country’s most bizarre and unusual experiences – the last time I saw him speak at a conference, he demonstrated how to produce electricity from a courgette and left the stage in a cloud of cherry-flavoured mist!

The conference will be like a daytime mirror of a fab Lates event – lots to learn, lots to enjoy and lots to think about. I hope you can make it.

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