By Alexandra Pereira
A HALLOWEEN festival has returned to museums and galleries across the UK for a second year in an attempt to boost declining visitor numbers.
The Museum at Night Festival is a national three-day event running from yesterday (Thursday) to tomorrow.
More than 150 events are taking place including the Halloween Late exhibit at the National Gallery in London, Nightmares! – a medieval murder mystery taking place at The Royal Armouries in Leeds, the Tolson at Night at the Tolson Museum in Huddersfield and a zombie infestation at the Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds.
Organiser Rosie Clarke, who works for Culture24, said: “It’s a chance to showcase the amazing museums, galleries, libraries, archives and heritage sites the UK has to offer, and to attract a new audience who might not otherwise have the opportunity to visit to come and do something different after hours.”
The event has come at an important moment as government statistics show that museum attendees in August were down 2.2 per cent from August last year.
Ms Clarke said: “I think that the recession is really impacting on people’s ability to bring their families on day trips out, which is a shame because many museums are free to enter.
“We also have to acknowledge that museums and galleries are competing for people’s free time with sports, TV, reading, video games and anything else that people might want to do – and local museums often don’t have the money to advertise all the things they offer.”
Judith Knox, 40, who works at the Thackray Museum in Leeds said: “With the zombie event, we get a lot of young adults, especially people who are in their late teens to their 30s – it’s all about trying to do something different.”
Knox described the event, which runs from 7 to 11pm tomorrow night (Saturday), as having interactive elements and a series of tasks around the museum galleries to help cure the museum of a zombie virus with visitors hopefully coming out alive.
Zombie enthusiast Stevie Markey, is returning to this year’s event. He said: “I’m very excited for the event. It’s really good how they make the costumes.”