What is Museums Showoff?

It’s the sister to Science Showoff, taking the same idea and format but filling the stage with people who work in, study or are interested in museums, libraries and collections rather than science.

It’s an open mic night featuring curators, conservators, librarians, collectors, Museum Studies students, archaeologists, social historians, educators, multimedia developers, explainers, visitors, theorists and everyone else associated with museums and library special collections.

When and where does it happen?

It’s a bimonthly event at the Wilmington Arms (69, Rosebery Ave, Clerkenwell, London, EC1R 4RL) with doors opening at 7pm. We also do occasional gigs in other cities across the UK.

How does it work?

For each gig we publish an online sign-up sheet. The first 5 people to sign up are guaranteed slots of up to 9 minutes on the night to do whatever they like as long as it has a museum or library flavour. The organisers hold five slots for invited guests. There are two ‘waiting list slots’ available on the online booking sheet in case one of the first 5 backs out, gets sick or is otherwise ruled out. No-one is allowed to book two slots in any three month period.

What happens on the night?

We start at 7.30, with an introduction from compere Steve Cross, and the night runs in two halves, each an hour long. The signed-up performers take to the stage to show off something about museums. They might:

Show and tell:

Their new acquisition
Their favourite or a ‘star’ object from their collection
An interesting find from the stores
Something they’ve conserved
Their current research
Run a group handling session
Tell us about something they’ve dug up
Describe the weirdest thing in their collection 


Their idea for their next exhibition
The most recent object their collection should acquire or dispose of
Road test ideas for exhibitions/public programmes/galleries
Tell us what a museum should be collecting and how
Tell us about research into what museums are doing and why
Demonstrate new digital projects/ideas/concepts

Or generally show off :

Showing a film or oral history project they’ve just made
Trying out a new demo or interactive exhibit
Practicing a new museum-based comedy set
Reading their latest poem/performing an interpretive dance about their museum work
Performing an 9-minute play aimed at museum audiences
Play their new song about the Tudors
Re-enact an historical event
Tell us about the latest behind-the-scenes goings on at their organization…

Or anything else!

Every set lasts 9 minutes or less. There’s a 20 minute intermission and we finish by 10pm, to give us an hour of picking each other’s brains over beer and to form new plans and partnerships before closing time.

Is there money involved?

No-one gets paid. There is a collection bucket, and we suggest a donation of £5 from everyone who comes along (audience and performers alike). All the proceeds go to a charity, chosen for that month’s gig.


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