Museums at Night extravaganza North Norfolk Stories Festival is back this week

People will have the chance to enjoy 24 free events for all ages at museums, libraries, heritage and wildlife sites across North Norfolk during the North Norfolk Stories Festival this week.

The Festival runs from Thursday 12 to Saturday 14 May and is part of Museums at Night, the national annual after-hours festival of arts, culture and heritage. Come across pirates, ghosts, Einstein, 1940s fashion, 1950s music and much more as venues throw open their doors and invite visitors to enjoy performances, family activities, exhibitions, music and talks.

Many events are taking place at twilight when the venues are normally shut, creating a unique opportunity and atmosphere for visitors to explore the sites, learn something new and have fun.

Thanks to National Lottery players, the Festival gives local people and visitors the chance to explore and enjoy the area’s fascinating history, including some lesser known stories from the past. Events include:

  • Blood on the Beach: A specially commissioned 1950s murder mystery walking tour around Cromer by Making Theatre Happen. Enjoy a night of intrigue by torchlight as you solve the terrible fate of Professor Cecil Hunter, a visiting fossil hunter who has gone missing.
  • Vintage 1940s Day at the Sackhouse in Wells-next-the-Sea, with a 1940s cream tea, fashion display and workshops, vintage makeovers, swinging Lindyhop lessons and music.
  • When Einstein Came to Cromer: A family event at Cromer Library where you can try light-bending glasses, see the Van De Graaf Machine and enjoy other scientific fun in a session run by Mad Science.
  • A Wild Night at the Museum at the Museum of the Broads, Stalham, discovering Broadland’s wildlife with activities and trails for the whole family, and free rides on the steam boat Falcon.
  • Wailing Woods, a new play which dramatizes the true story of two children murdered in Norfolk’s Wayland Wood in the 16th Century, created and performed at Sheringham Little Theatre by its Drama Group.
  • Revolting North Walsham, an interactive community theatre event telling the tale of North Walsham’s quirky past in a walk around town, organised by North Walsham Library.
  • Open House at Langham Dome, an intriguing building built in 1942-3 on the edge of RAF Langham, which utilised ground-breaking technology to train anti-aircraft gunners.

Laura Crossley, the North Norfolk Stories’ project manager, said: “This is North Norfolk’s biggest ever Museums at Night programme and there is a brilliant range of free events for both local people and visitors to enjoy. It’s a great chance for people to get out and about and experience some of our fantastic local museums, libraries and venues in a different way and to see, do and learn something new.”

The North Norfolk Stories Festival is delivered by 22 partner organisations and run by Museums Norfolk, a membership organisation that supports and works on behalf of heritage organisations across the county, and is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) with £75,800 funding.

For details of events please visit www.northnorfolkstories.org, follow @museumsnorfolk on Twitter or Museums Norfolk on Facebook, email northnorfolkstories@gmail.com or call Project Manager Laura Crossley on 07791 505045.

Family art adventures in Spain

Cast aside any perceptions of 1970s style Costa del Sol and think cool and cosmopolitan Spanish city. Malaga is a vibrant place with a great museum and gallery scene. Centre Pompidou Malaga is the new 5 year ‘pop-up’ project from it’s sister gallery in Paris and we were excited to check it out. Not to mention the great new food market – Mercado Merced, port redevelopment and great looking beach. Malaga makes an ideal mini break destination.

Crawling in Museo PicassoWe started with a gallery I have visited several times, pre-children, which was the Museo Picasso Malaga. The tradition architecture and fantastic art collection makes every visit a treat. Visiting with a toddler in tow made for a more challenging experience but was still an enjoyable one overall. Without much thought we bought tickets for both the permanent and touring exhibition, by Jackson Pollock at 10 euros per adult. In hindsight, the attention span of a toddler who is determined to master walking any day and who will speed crawl with the best of them, does not allow for a leisurely meander through two exhibitions. However, the stunning quadrangle allowed for a little crawling.

Museo Picasso is a tricky space to negotiate with a buggy, as there are lots of small rooms and a large number of visitors. Our little one pleasingly liked any painting with animals featured in them, shouting her best ‘Miaow!’. Signage is minimal and I struggled to find baby changing facilities, which ended up being in the basement. There is a lift, thankfully. There appeared to be no family or children’s programme at the gallery, which was a little disappointing, as Picasso’s work would lend itself perfectly to family art workshops.

Playing the piano at MIMMA

Bea and her balloon

On the same day we visited Museo Interaectivo de la Musica (MIMMA). I had discovered this online before our trip and thought that the interactive element would be ideal for children. The admission cost was reasonable at 4 euros per adult. The museum is split into white, black and red rooms, indicating exhibition spaces and hands on interactive rooms. We spent most of out time in the red interactive rooms, in which our little one got to play a piano, guitar, steel pan and a Gong. Trying the Steel Pan at MIMMAMy big kid of a husband was hugely disappointed that the electric drums didn’t work, whereas Bea was simply mesmerized by the lights on the kits control panel. The rest of the museum is definitely tailored to older children and grown ups. If music is your thing, you’ll love it. Thirty minutes was as long as our little one could handle at MIMMA before getting restless, however, her mood was instantly elevated as she was handed a free balloon by the friendly gift shop attendant.

Incubado, in situ project at Centre PompidouHand held mirrors, Centre PompidouThe following day we took a walk to the port and Centre Pompidou Malaga. The striking architectural installation, Incubado, in situ project by Daniel Buren, can be seen from a distance. Learning from the Picasso museum, this time we only purchased permanent exhibition tickets, at the cost of 7 euros each. The space is quite dark and could be a little daunting for young children, but Bea found the video pieces engaging and was happy to get Young Person's Room at Centre Pompidouinvolved with the interactive exhibitions in the Self Portraits Room. The gallery has specific interactive pieces designed for families, which proved a hit with our little one at 16 months old. There is also a Young Person’s room, aimed at ages 5-12. This space is currently celebrating the life and work of Frida Kahlo. This was a great interactive, safe room where Bea could crawl around, touch screens and pick up telephones. (pretending she was calling our cat, Oscar,  rather than listening about Frida Kahlo!).

Spending 3 nights in Malaga, we did more than just scratch the surface, and I’m sure the City has further adventures to offer. With direct flights now going from Norwich we will definitely be back to check out places such as Museo Carmen Thyseen and would recommend Malaga as an exciting and unique family art destination.