Tate Britain (Lates)

August 5, 2009 at 10:42 pm | Posted in General, London, museum, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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May of you will know that I enjoy going to the odd late night opening and the Tate Britain was no different. Although it is regrettable that it’s taken so long to write about one of their late night events.

The Tate Britain was the Tate until that upstart Modern turned up. The gallery houses an impressive collection of art from 1500s onwards! It is presented in the same way as the National Portrait and Art galleries. So if staid frames and artworks along painted walls is your thing then you’ll feel right at home. It certainly worked for me and without knowing more I felt like I had become more cultured – just from the experience.

Now, that was the artwork – which you can see on any visit but what about the Lates?

For those new to the concept, basically, various museums in London will have extended hours one night a month that’s just for adults. So there’ll be entertainment, drinks and food.

For Tate Britain they had Courvoisier in attendance providing discounted cocktails (in an attempt to broaden the appeal of cognac – according to our server). However, you could only drink in a very small space, relative to the entire gallery area, as a result we found ourselves pacing around trying to finish our beverages and move on. This is similar to the Victoria and Albert’s Lates. I respect that they don’t want accidental spillage but perhaps they could widen the drinking area or have a few other ‘safe zones’ throughout. I realise I sound like an alcoholic but if I wanted to just look at the art I’d come on a normal day but I chose to attend for a Lates experience.

Rant over.

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Besides the bar area the main hub of the gallery was given over to a couple audio visual displays. Generally necessitating those who wanted to watch them all to sit on the floor. The Tate also held a variety of walks and talks but we weren’t able to make any of these.

Lastly there was musical entertainment in the form of the Shellac Sisters – a group of gramophone playing retro ladies. What we could hear of it echoing down the corridors seemed novel but every time we were actually in sight in seemed to be break time.

Overall I liked the artwork on display and found it satisfying. While the option to go Late is appealing I didn’t find the extra offerings compelling enough to recommend a late night visit. A regular day time trip should be fine.

February Lates Roundup 2009

March 3, 2009 at 11:53 pm | Posted in General, London, museum, Natural History Museum, Out and About, Science Museum, Tourism, Travel, UK | 1 Comment
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Last week was the end of February and that means it was time to revisit South Kensington and its museums for another round of Late night madness.

First up on Wednesday was the Science Museum. I did in fact come despite protestations last time that I wouldn’t come back for a while out of increasing boredom. Word of the event has definitely increased as there were more people than ever including some of my friends and so I thought I’d come again.

Rant – Only one major one, please keep the bars in the same location. Every time I come they’re in a different spot. January when the two were on either side of the ramp was perfect!

Anti-rant – As always there were loads of night only activities including a silent disco (the line was quite long so we didn’t partake but clearly popular) and a DJ in Launchpad – this was the first time I’ve seen people dancing there! I was also thrilled to see that most of the museum was open, including an “astronaut” giving a talk in the space section. Hopefully, future events will see even more of the galleries open. Very popular and enjoyable evening.

Science Museum Lates Feb 09 (2) Science Museum Lates Feb 09 (7)

Friday saw the double Lates of the Victoria and Albert and Natural History Museum. First up was the V&A.

Rant – My rant is basically bar based. The beverages were small and expensive. For example a beer costs almost £4, for about half a pint in a plastic cup, whereas at the Science Museum it’s £3 for a glass bottle of Asahi. Lastly, you can only drink (or eat) in the entry area. So assuming you can wait through the line to get to the bar you’ll have to stand around for a while before you can even get into the museum. I understand that the museum might be concerned about the safety of their pieces. Understandable but if that’s the issue either don’t have a bar or allow people to drink in the galleries but put restrictions on which ones they can go in.

Anti-rant – The activities on offer were excellent. My highlight for the night was a murder mystery where you had to follow a route and gather clues. It was really well devised as the route took you through most parts of the museum and past many other events that you could stop off on before completing your quest. Another fun activity was creating collages that represent us. The hall was filled with people, magazines, glue and scissors all embracing a child like joy at this arts and crafts. Despite my reservations about the bar (best to drink before hand) we all had an excellent time at our first V&A Lates -well recommended!

V&A and Natural History Museum Lates (2) V&A and Natural History Museum Lates (4)

The V&A closes just before 10 and luckily the Natural History Museum stays open until 10:30 so we headed over there to continue the frivolity.

Rant – Granted we got there at 10 but it appeared none of the standard galleries were open, the exception being the ticketed events. In addition unlike the other museums there were no special activities on and when I asked at the information desk the attendant looked at me blankly at such an odd request.

Anti-Rant – The museum offers a wider selection of beverages (including sparkling) compared to the other museums. While the exhibits weren’t open it was still an atmospheric experience to sip drinks under the giant brontosaurus skeleton in the main hall. A nice late event but not essential, probably best to do at the beginning/end of the night, certainly don’t base your evening around it.

V&A and Natural History Museum Lates (20) V&A and Natural History Museum Lates (21)

Science Museum Lates – January 2009

January 29, 2009 at 1:08 am | Posted in General, museum, Out and About, UK | Leave a comment
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I came back to the Science Museum for its second Late night event – now on monthly – this time with the old Angel crowd.  This month was Japanese themed. It definitely seemed busier than last time with the queue stretching around the building although it moved reasonably quickly once the doors opened. However, there was quite a bit of congestion around the Underground entrance as the two masses collided.

Science Lates (2)  Science Lates (6)

Some of the specific events on offer were the Taiko Meantime drummers who performed along the glass bridge in the centre of the museum. They only performed once at the beginning of the night (albeit for 45mins), they then conducted drum lessons with the volunteers performing later in the evening.

Science Lates (9) Science Lates (7) Science Lates (40)

Short kendo performances (3x 15mins) were also on offer but we missed these (the room was changed but we missed the notification – assuming there was one).

Lunar views from the Japanese Kaguya satellite were being shown in the Ground Floor theatre. We stayed inside for about 10 minutes. It was interesting but not as fascinating as I’d expected, I don’t know what I expected the lunar surface to look like. The Earth sets and rises were quite cool and worth it.

The Japan Car exhibit which highlights the changing technology in he Japanese car industry to make them more efficient and environmentally friendly. Honestly, I’m not into cars so I found it less than spectacular and wouldn’t have paid for entry. This was the only exhibit with a cost, although you could get a discounted 2 for 1. Luckily, as a meetup member who rsvp’d to the ScienceLates event I managed to get a couple of free tickets from Peers the organiser. Another great benefit of the exhibit were the complimentary beer per ticket at the end of the exhibit. Made it all worthwhile.

Origami skills were on display in the computer hall. There were explanations for the standard designs like the crane, frog, rose and box but there were also more elaborate origami being created and on display.

Science Lates (44) Science Lates (42) Science Lates (23) Science Lates (24)

When we first entered the future music room I had no idea what was going on I just heard some electronic style music with a cluster of people in one corner. According to Tim there were some light boards, which produced the sound once touched. It’s via Tenori-on a digital instrument – watch a display at YouTube.

Science Lates (17) Science Lates (18)

Dance Dance Revolution competition on the ground floor for only a pound. If you’ve never heard of it before (really?) here’s an example.

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Once again the top floor’s Launchpad was a hit with lots of hands on science. I didn’t see as many volunteer explainers but I could have just been unobservant.

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Overall, the night was a lot of fun and I’d encourage you to go to the next one. Depending on the special events I might have to give it a miss for a few months because there’s only so many times you can shock yourself before it gets a little repetitive.

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Still very fun! Good work and the bars as ever were popular!

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More photos at Flickr.

Night at the Museum – the Science Museum

October 16, 2008 at 10:22 pm | Posted in General, Out and About, Random, Tourism, Travel, UK | 2 Comments
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Wednesday night (24 September) was London’s Science Museum’s inaugural late night opening specifically for adults. All in all a great time made all the more pleasant by having some friends to share the experience.

The best part of the night was hands down the lack of children and massive crowds. It made navigation and enjoyment so much easier and less stressful. The museum put on several bars and a DJ. Remember t bring your I’d as the doorman/ bouncer will check. The computers exhibit featured a build a robot/robot wars activity. There were also Lindy Hoppers dancing up a storm. The crowd (and our) favourite was the hands on section. Normally dominated by children but for a few brief hours adults could play, laugh, learn and revel in the wonder of science.

Unfortunately I do have one criticism. Namely that the entire museum was not open. I’m not sure if this is the result of crowd control and security concerns but it seems to go against the concept of a late opening.

Overall, the crowd was very cool with a healthy mix of suits, geeks and the groovy hopefully brought together by science! I know I had a big grin when one of the ever present and helpful Explainers … explained the maglev concepts. If most people came away with a similar experience then it was a worthwhile night.

I probably won’t go back for a few months as I don’t want to kill the novelty but I’ll wait and see what they have planned for the night.

Other late night events around London can be found at lates.org

There are some less than stellar mobile photos at Flickr.

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