What is Museums Showoff?

It’s an open mic night featuring curators, conservators, librarians, collectors, trustees, security people, retail folk, educators, funders, explainers, visitors, academics, archivists and everyone else associated with museums, libraries, archives and collections.

When and where does it happen?

Every two months at The Phoenix, 37 Cavendish Square, London W1 with doors opening at 6.45pm. 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 4 people to sign up are guaranteed slots of up to 9 minutes on the night to do whatever they like as long as it is about museums, galleries, archives, libraries, collections or heritage. The organisers hold four slots for invited guests. There is a ‘reserve’ slot available on the online booking sheet in case one of the first 4 can’t make it after all. You can only perform once in any six month period.

What happens on the night?

We start at 7.30pm, with an introduction from our compère, 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, archives, libraries or collections… 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
Tell us how museums could be improved
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 :

Show a film or oral history project they’ve just made
Try out a new demo or interactive exhibit
Read their latest poem about a museum
Perform a 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 to pick each other’s brains and make new plans and partnerships before closing time.