From Fabulous 50s to the Fringe: Working with the Events team

During my last month on my Events Management placement with the Sites and Events team, I have naturally been reflecting on my time here at the National Museum of Scotland.

I have decided that the Grand Gallery in the National Museum of Scotland is one of the most beautiful spaces in the country. The magnificent size and design is humbling, and when the sun comes through the glass ceiling during the day it is truly stunning. However, it was during my first week of placement that I saw this glorious space at night, and that’s when I fell in love.

The Grand Gallery at night
The Grand Gallery at night, ready for Museum Late: Game Masters.

The Museum Lates are the largest events that the team run in Chambers Street, and involve everything you never thought you’d see in a museum. While the sun set over Edinburgh on my third day of placement, I watched the glorious Grand Gallery being transformed into an extraordinary and enticing scene of beautiful lights, live music, costumed characters, busy bartenders and an excited army of staff.

It’s nice when you have one of those moments which make you think, ‘Yes, this is the career for me,’ isn’t it?

Re-enactment at Wartime Experience at the National Museum of Flight
Re-enactment at Wartime Experience at the National Museum of Flight.

Since my first week of placement, I haven’t had time to breathe, and I love it. The first event I was involved in organising was Wartime Experience at the National Museum of Flight, where I was responsible for scouting a group of singers to perform. The girls I managed to find were great, much to my relief. I spent the day setting up cooking demonstrations, organising war gamers, herding horses to their arena, and making sure performances across the site were starting on time.

Hula hooping at Fabulous 50s at the National Museum of Rural Life
Hula hooping at Fabulous 50s at the National Museum of Rural Life

My second event was Fabulous 50s at the National Museum of Rural Life. In the run-up to the event, I scouted and booked our excellent 50s singer, as well as vintage hair stylists and antiques stalls. On the day, the event was relaxed and atmospheric, and we managed to avoid too much running around. I operated the sound for our singer, I chatted to happy visitors, and I tried my waist at hula hooping (a skill I clearly left behind in the 90s). It was a much calmer work environment than I was used to, but I loved getting to enjoy the event that I had been a part of organising.

Next on the cards were our Museum After Hours events, which ran for three consecutive Fridays in August. The After Hours were loosely themed around the current Photography: a Victorian Sensation exhibition, and so it has been an on-going job to use concepts from this era and translate them into fun activities that will engage the audience on the night. The line-ups and performances across the three nights were terrific, and the ideas that I watched develop into programmed activities went down a storm. I learned that Fringe performers do not always stick perfectly to a strict, expertly timed programme, but once they start performing it doesn’t seem to matter.

Discotheque Machine performing at Museum After Hours: Free Fringe Takeover
Discotheque Machine performing at Museum After Hours: Friday Fringe Takeover.

As for my placement, working in such a fun and fast-paced environment has taught me a lot. Firstly, entering a meeting in the morning without a source of caffeine is just madness. Secondly, we are lucky to have such a hard-working and devoted team who are focused on making our museum a place where we all want to be, and where we all should be.

Header image: Ticket to Bollywood performing at Museum After Hours: Free Fringe Takeover.

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