Museums Showoff 8, Tuesday 25 June – LINE UP ANNOUNCED

Roll up, roll up. Get your Museums Showoff action here! Let’s face it, you’ve worked hard this year. You need an evening to sit back, relax and hear fascinating tales and intriguing insights from some top class museum talent. And wow, have we got a line up for you!

Museums Showoff is back on Tuesday 25 June. We’ll be upstairs at The Black Heart, 3 Greenland Place, NW1 0AP. Doors open at 7pm, the show starts at 7.30pm. Entry is free, but we’ll be collecting on the door for our charity of the month KEEN London, which provides free one-to-one sports and recreational opportunities for young people with special needs. We suggest a donation of £5.

Strutting their stuff in an amazing museum extravaganza will be:

Steve Cross – your compere for the night. Will he mention the Science Museum? Well, what do you think?

Finbarr Whooley –The things you learn when working in museums The longer I work in museums the more weird I realise that they are. Underneath a veneer of respectability and order they are truly strange places that employ strange people and attract some even stranger punters. I invite the audience to join me on my journey of discovery into the strange netherworld of the museum; a world of crushing monotony and exotic exuberance.

Mar Dixon & Samuel Bausson – We will talk about Museomix & how anyone can get involved remixing a museum to create something that is more open, networked and that evolves with its users and visitors.

Roberta Wedge – The Mysterious Case of the Empty Victorians. What’s the smallest museum you’ve ever been to, and the most unprepared curator you’ve ever met? Shrink the former and multiply the latter, and you’ll have some inkling of what’s coming up: Mary Wollstonecraft, miniaturised.

We Are Goose – The Hunterian Museum in London is a secret treasure trove of 300 pickled dead things, gathered together by John Hunter – one of the most incredible unsung heroes of surgery. We Are Goose have written a one hour musical comedy about him for the Edinburgh Fringe and want to share their love of his collection.

Claire Ross – I’ll be discussing the highs and lows from a first time exhibition curator including why you should never work with technology, asbestos, Fleming Valves or industrial measures of jelly beans.

Stevyn Colgan – I work at an exciting, dynamic museum that doesn’t exist. I’m one of the writers of BBC R4’s Museum of CuriosityQI’s sister show and, in my talk I’m going to reveal some of the more surprising donations we’ve had, how closely we work with real museums, and ask the audience to help us build up our exhibit list for next year.

Alice Hockey – Takeover Day in Museums – is it safe to hand over control? What happens when we ask young people to run our museums

Adrian Shaw – I’ll be presenting 9 minutes of surreal, slightly humerous art institution-inspired observations in a light Barnsley accent.

Museums Showoff Norwich – LINE UP ANNOUNCED

Hello Norwich! Are you ready for some top class museum-related entertainment? We’ve lined up the best of Norfolk’s museum talent to reveal behind-the-scenes stories, intriguing insights and amazing projects. Thanks to Museums Norfolk, we’re coming to a venue near you!

Museums Showoff, the open mic night for all those who work in and love museums, will take place at OPEN Club, 28 Castle Meadow, Norwich NR1 3DS on Thursday 13 June. Doors open at 6.30pm. Book a free ticket via the Eventbrite page. Donations will be requested on the door for OPEN Youth Trust which runs projects to support the education, training and wellbeing of people under 25. We suggest a donation of £5.

Taking to the stage for this extravaganza of wit and wisdom, objects and exhibitions are:

Steve Cross – your compère for the night, he critiques museums through the medium of t-shirts.

Basil Abbott – I will describe how commemorating famous people has paid dividends for Diss Museum and won a string of awards.

Laura Drysdale – Living With Me LIVE: tales of Fred the Head, Barbie and Bertha and sweeping angels’ wings. Women at play with the Sainsbury Centre’s collection.

Sophie Cabot and Christian Charmley – Sit yourself down and treat yourself to ‘How do I Heritage?’: the existential chaos of two ex-archaeologists thrust into a world of desks, corded telephones and central heating. We’ll introduce you to the exciting world of heritage asset management and outreach, regaling you with tales of homicidal schoolchildren, funding battles and the quest to make Heritage Open Days appeal to absolutely everybody in the world ever.

Jamie Everitt – Lord Gnome’s guide to funding applications: I’ll be taking a humorous look at applying for funding with the aid of the enigmatic owner of Private Eye magazine, Lord Gnome. Warning! Contains genuine advice.

Emma Brough & Fiona Ford – The French Connection! Emma Brough and Fiona Ford will show you how NMAS projects are revealing Norfolk’s Norman heritage.

Ruth Battersby Tooke – I will be reading an embroidered letter from the Workhouse and reflecting on the use of textiles as a therapy.

Chris Morshead – Museums – a home for social drifters? I will take a look at how museums can be focal points for groups of people and form “family communities” for different types of people who come in search of their past lives.

Lorna Richardson – A Rummage Through Our Drawers: The University of Cambridge Museum of Zoology will be closing in June for two years for refurbishment. How can we keep you interested in our collections while we are closed, and what kind of objects would you like to see most? I will present a a semi-show-and-tell, looking at some of the objects from the handling collection, how the Museum website currently works and getting audience opinion on what bits of our drawers they’d like to fumble around in?!

Andy Bennett – Former museum interpreter and now a full time poet, Andy will perform extracts from his epic poem about the history of Norwich Castle, Donjon.

Marion Catlin and Roxanne Matthews – We’ll be talking about the idea that a city can be viewed as a public museum, curated by its residents and interpreted through local knowledge. We will look at ways of interpreting some of the lesser known stories that every place has, particularly using digital interventions.


May 14, London gig – LINE UP ANNOUNCED

Hello London! Recovered from the marathon? Ready to have a sit down, a drink and hear amazing things about museums? We’ve got a fabulous evening lined up for you, with ten top museum people showing off the best bits about their work.

Museums Showoff is back on Tuesday 14 May. We’ll be at our new home, upstairs at The Black Heart, 3 Greenland Place, NW1 0AP. Doors open at 7pm, the show starts at 7.30pm. Entry is free, but we’ll be collecting on the door for our charity of the month.

Strutting their stuff on stage, divulging things about museums that you’ve never even thought of, will be:

Steve Cross – a man whose entire knowledge of museums consists of ways to tease the Science Museum.

Sharon Ament – Museums: are we just too polite? What Old Flo has to teach us about how standing up for what we believe in creates a wide-reaching resonance.

Lola Arellano-Weddleton – I’ll be talking about my attempt in 2012 (and again this year) to visit a museum daily, and what I’ve learned through the logistical challenges of becoming a glutton for culture. In particular, I’ll talk about museums in Warsaw, Poland, where I was living last year, on a Fulbright research grant in museum studies.

Ruth Adams – The Curious Tale of Tipu’s Tiger: Or the story of how a notorious man eating musical instrument was kidnapped from India and brought to London, to be immortalised in poetry, chocolate and cyberspace.

Adrian Murphy & Vicky Pearce – We will be talking about what it’s like to be the voice of museum on Twitter – the highs, the lows, the fun and games, taking a journey from Macedonian socks to Ethiopian lyres via many, many pangolins. And we’ll try to give you actual, practical top tips if you have to be your museums’ voice but we may just make lots of puns and alliteration.

Emily Yates – Sherlock Holmes and The Museum Inaccuracy. Sherlock Holmes may be a clever guy, but when running around a museum he does have some odd ideas about how we operate. I have set up my own casebook of investigations into how museums operate in the Holmesian world, and why we may disagree with him.

Kat Nilsson – Kat expresses her love for science and frustration with the personalities of objects available to tell science stories. When did they become so bland and what on earth can be done about it?

Rachel Jennings – Museums are a lot like icebergs: what’s on display is just a tiny part of the whole, and what’s hidden is much more interesting! I will take you on a brief tour through the weird and wonderful world of stored collections at the Horniman Museum.

Meriel Jeater – A little-known part of the Museum of London’s medieval collection is its bawdy badges depicting male and female genitalia, amusing visual puns and mating chickens. Why were these badges made and who wore them? Curator Meriel Jeater explores the sexy side of medieval life and asks whether these badges are as naughty as they might seem to modern eyes.

Miranda Stearn – What’s all this contemporary art doing in my museum? From Grayson Perry at the British Museum to Mark Wallinger at the National Gallery, recently it’s been hard to escape contemporary interventions in our museums. I’ll be showing off my PhD research musing on why this might be.

Richard Sandling – Richard Sandling collects Videos. He has so many he would like to turn his house into a VHS museum. Could he? Should he? Can he? How do you even become a museum? Find out tonight!

March 6, London gig – LINE UP ANNOUNCED

Hoorah! It’s nearly spring. The days are longer, there are buds on the trees, birds are singing, I’m sure there will be warm weather, sun and blue skies very soon… We should celebrate! What better way to do that than spend an evening listening to 10 amazing people entertain you with stories and songs about museums?

Museums Showoff will be at the Wilmington Arms, 69 Rosebery Ave, EC1 on Wednesday March 6th. Doors are at 7pm. Entry is free, but we will be collecting on the door for our charity of the month, Peckham Shed, which runs innovative theatre workshops in a supportive place for 5-17 year olds living in and around SE London. We strongly suggest a donation of £5.

Strutting their stuff on stage in an extravaganza of behind-the-scenes revelations, wit and wisdom are:

Steve Cross – Your compère for the evening. Steve tells jokes, eats sweets and wears silly t-shirts, sometimes simultaneously.

Gemma Holland & Meredith Wood – Join a dynamic duo from the Museum of Brands in Notting Hill for an interactive and explosive show-case of consumer history. Meet items from the collection and hear wondrous facts about the unique and vast treasures on display as well as win free tickets to the Museum. Described by visitors as a “hidden treasure” the team is here to show you that everything has a story waiting to be told.

Tim Gardom – Take to the streets! The right place for culture is outside a museum. Tim
Gardom explains, attempting the Pecha Kucha format (20 slides, 20 seconds per

Dan Schreiber – For the last 5 years I’ve been co-running a museum on radio called The Museum Of Curiosity. We have a great collection including the Big Bang when it was the size of a grapefruit, the first story ever told, and Nothing. I’ve recently noticed that other museums have some pretty good stuff too. So I’ve made a list of things I’d like to plunder from them all.

Tom Miles – I will talk about the project to digitise a representative sample of the Museum of Writing’s collection, introducing objects from the collection and discussing how social media has enabled the collection to be brought to a wider audience.

Dan Simpson – I’m going to be talking about how videogames are (and are not) represented in museums / galleries, and raising the whole ‘are videogames art?’ type questions. But, you know, in a funny way.

Anouk Gouvras – I work at the Natural History Museum, one of 300 scientists. I will talk a bit about working at the NHM, some random fun facts, how the NHM became involved in controlling a debilitating parasitic disease in sub-Saharan Africa (Schistosomiasis aka Bilharzia), the Schistosome Collection at the NHM and there may be a very geeky Schisto song at the end.

Sarah Punshon – Telling lies and resisting dinosaurs; or, what happened when a theatre director was let loose on the Natural History Museum for a year. Complete with pictures of small happy children and a game of Spot the Scientist.

Jack Ashby – Natural history museums, whilst being awesome, are deeply unrepresentative of nature – it’s often said that 95% of known animal species are smaller than your thumb, but have you noticed how most museums fill their displays with big animals? To right this wrong, the Grant Museum has built The Micrarium – a beautiful back-lit cave displaying 2323 microscope slides containing amazingly prepared miniscule animals – hoping to give some attention to the huge diversity of tiny lives.

Martin Austwick – Singer-songwriter Martin Austwick has never worked for a museum, although he has been in one, and has played at the British Library (which is like a museum for books) until everyone started shushing him and security arrived. He has songs about old things (well, Gutenberg’s printing press) and dust (well, Brownian Motion) so he imagines he’ll feel right at home at Museum Showoff.

Museums Showoff Manchester, 28 Feb – LINE UP ANNOUNCED

Hello Manchester! Are you ready for some top class museum-related entertainment? We’ve lined up the creme de la creme of Manucian museum talent to reveal behind-the-scenes stories, intriguing insights and amazing projects.

Museums Showoff, the open mic night for all those who work in and love museums, will take place in the cafe at Manchester Art Gallery on Thursday 28 February. Doors open at 6.30pm. Book a free ticket via the Eventbrite page. Donations will be requested on the door for 42nd Street, who support the emotional wellbeing of children and young people. We suggest a donation of £5.

Taking to the stage for this extravaganza of wit and wisdom, objects and exhibitions are:

Steve Cross – compère and joke teller, Steve likes nothing more than to poke fun at the Science Museum.

David Carden – I sing banjo and ukulele songs inspired by the 18th and 19th century collections at Manchester Art Gallery.

Campbell Price – Mummies and Magic. Arguably, Manchester Museum’s most popular attraction is its Egyptian collection – but why do mummies repel us and intrigue us in equal measure? Egyptology curator Campbell Price recounts tales of the weird and the wonderful.

Jeni McConnell – I’d like to tell you about a group of enthusiastic young people who put together an intriguing evening guided walk with performances that connected objects and stories from Warrington Museum with the histories of the local streets. Their performances and readings captured their audience, linking local places and people and giving a unique view of a familiar place as they launched themselves into The Bright Unknown.

Gemma Angel – What connects 19th century tattooing, mercury and syphilis? I will explore some surprising links between geology, history of medicine and art through my doctoral work on the Wellcome’s collection of 300 preserved tattooed human skins at the Science Museum.

David Steele – I will be doing a stand-up comedy presentation on the subject of museums and the people that go to them.

Paul Cookson – I will do a selection of interactive performance poetry, based on my work at the National Football Museum. Audience participation is non negotiable!

Catherine O’Donnell – Catherine will be performing a taster of the Little People’s History Museum story Mr Ordinary’s Prize. Join in the adventure and get involved in the puppetry fun!

Helen Rees Leahy – Why Museums Make you Ill…The contemporary orthodoxy that links museums with happiness and well-being in its various guises overlooks an inconvenient historical truth: museums (can) make you ill. This talk recuperates the forgotten history of museum sickness, so that the next time you feel develop an ‘aesthetic headache’ or feel nauseous after an afternoon in a gallery, you’ll know that you’re in good company.

Stephen Howe, James Eagleton and Lee Wolstenholme – We are MOSI’s Singing Scientists. We play John Dalton, who developed Atomic theory into a science, Sir Bernard Lovell, famous for his work radio astronomy and the development of Jodrell Bank telescope and William Perkin, who, whilst trying to crack the chemical code of artificial Quinine from coal tar, happened across a way to create cheaper dyes. Three part harmony acapella singing from this trio tells the story of these great scientists’ achievements.

Ann French – You may think that there is only one way to display a textile, but conservators know different – especially when you’ve got to appease a curator! I’ll be musing on the ways I’ve created textile display systems to express a curator’s exhibition ideas.

Museums Showoff 5, Jan 17 – LINE UP ANNOUNCED

Say BOO to the January blues. Forget that it’s cold and dull. Cheer yourself up by watching amazing acts from across the museums world reveal behind-the-scenes stories and incredible projects.

Museums Showoff 5 will be at the Wilmington Arms, EC1 at 7pm on January 17th. Taking to the stage for this extravaganza of objects and exhibitions are:

Steve Cross – will be our compère for the night. What will he say about the Science Museum this time?

Nick Poole – Yes (Culture) Minister:  9 minutes, 10 years, 7 Secretaries of State for Culture Media and Sport. A fast-paced review of the glittering academy of unforgettable stars that have held the Government’s top culture job. What have they done with it? Why did they do it? Where are they now? What does it take to be a Minister for Culture? And which one of them once accused me of something he liked to call ‘unthink’?

Katherine Curran – “Heritage Smells or The Terrible Fate of Tropical Ken”. Delivered entirely in verse, this will be both a description of my research project and an account of the dreadful things that happened to a Ken doll who found himself in one of UCL’s laboratories.

Danny Birchall ­– Why wrap the Freud Museum in ropes made of doll’s hair? Danny will present a lightning tour of artists’ interventions in museum spaces, from notorious pisstaker Marcel Duchamp to neo-neuroticist Alice Anderson.

Alice Bell ­– Why the very idea of a science museum is just plain silly, but if we’re going to have them they should be less like Harrods and more like a junk yard.

Alison Boyle & Harry Cliff – Higgs bosons, hadrons, high-energy physics … it’s a huge and incredibly complex machine, with lots of people busy doing things that nobody else understands. But that’s enough about the Science Museum. Find out what happened when Harry met Ali and the world of museums collided with the world of CERN.

Researchers in Museums – Gemma Angel, Sarah Chaney, Suzanne Harvey, Felicity Winkley, Lisa Plotkin, Tzu-i Liao and Alicia Thornton are a UCL-based gestalt entity whose mission is to engage the public with their research and UCL’s museum collections in ways never before explored. Bringing together their expertise in diverse subject areas, the team presents “Foreign Bodies” – their very first interdisciplinary group-curated exhibition, which opens in February 2013 at UCL.

Peter Ride – #Citizencurators was a twitter project that ran during the 2012 Olympics organised by Museum of London and Univ of Westminster. It’s goal was to collect Londoners response to living in London during the games – a social history for the museum collection. But it also also asked the question how can a museum collect tweets – as database, a visual object or a string of individual lines?

Hayley Kruger – is going to talk about some of the stranger steps on the path that paved the way to modern blood donation and provides a salutary warning of why it is unwise to be related to an anatomist and predecease them…!

The Ministry of Curiosity – will be recruiting for the newly founded collective dedicated to London’s museum social scene.

Jason Webber – Come the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse, which Museum will give you the best chance of survival? Who has the collection and venue to hold off the slaving hordes of the un-dead?

Entry is free, but we will be collecting on the door for our charity of the month, which is 1A Arts Association, a community initiative helping people develop skills through arts projects. We strongly suggest a donation of £5.

Welcome to Museums Showoff

Hello! Welcome to the brand new Museums Showoff blog. For the last six months we’ve been sharing space on the Science Showoff blog, but now we’ve got our own home. Look here to find out everything about our gigs – announcements of new dates, how to sign up, line ups for the next gigs, and more.

If you want to find out who’s already strutted their stuff for us, and how they did it, read the posts below, which have been reblogged from Science Showoff.

If you’re wondering what on earth Museums Showoff is all about, click on the What is Museums Showoff tab at the top.