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25 Posts tagged with the after_hours tag
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Our winter After Hours begin on 29 October, but first, on Friday 24 September we are throwing open our doors until 22.00 for After Hours: Science Uncovered.

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Don't miss our biggest-ever after hours event on Friday 24 September as we join a Europe-wide festival

All across Europe, in over 200 cities, final preparations to kindred events that take place on that night are being made and harrowed-looking event managers (if we are anything to go by) will be crossing their fingers that all will go well.


Stephen Roberts, our Nature Live Manager, who with his colleague Ivvet Modinou, has worked extremely hard on the event (along with the rest of the project team), and was responsible for bringing it to the Museum in the first place, says that London needs an event like this and the Museum must be the best place for it.

 

‘Over 4 million people come to the Museum every year and we have over 300 science staff but, until the opening of the Darwin Centre last year, relatively few of them get to see our scientists, let alone chat.

 

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'After Hours: Science Uncovered changes the balance when an astonishing 60 of our own scientists as well as others from across London have pulled out all the stops to join in a European festival of science called Researchers' Night. We have watched with interest as this initiative, now involving over  500,000 members of the public in Europe, has grown and this year we have thrown ourselves in lock, stock and barrel.'

 

At our event there are over 50 different activities going on, ranging from 30 minute tours and Nature Live events in the Attenborough Studio to our Natural History Roadshow and science stations covering an astounding breadth of our science and collections that you can pop by for a few moments. In The Science Bar you can discuss the hot science of the day, from climate change to life on Mars and everything inbetween or, if you like, just kick back and enjoy a drink and soak up the atmosphere.’

 

Jon Ablett, pictured left, is one of the several zoologists you can meet on the night. He'll be introducing us to The Giant Squid in his Nature Live talk.

 

You can also enjoy a glass of champagne or wine in our Red Bar in Fossil Way, and if you have an interesting specimen, or a story related to the natural world, you can go along to the Hendrick's Bar of Curious Concoctions in the Darwin Centre, and get a free gin and tonic!

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I also wanted to get a quote from my boss, the Director of Public Engagement, Sharon Ament, about what After Hours: Science Uncovered means to her. As things have been so madly busy here with the event, I ended up having to trail her with a notebook down in the lift as she left for the day. Here's what she said:

 

‘It’s fun, it’s insightful, it’s never been done before. Science is international, and this shows the effort that goes into high quality science in the European Union. After Hours: Science Uncovered will be exciting for everyone taking part in it, our scientists and our visitors. There is nothing like getting up close with science, and this is a brilliant opportunity to do just that.  It is great that we are participating in a Europe-wide event.  Imagine how across Europe, scientists will be engaging with over half a million people on the same night – it has been a fantastic opportunity for us to take part in this’.


It really has been a fantastic opportunity working on this After Hours, and we are looking forward to a feast of science and great craic with our visitors, as the Irish say.


I went to a seminar today when one of our research scientists, Dr Greg Edgecombe, talked with us about his field work in Greenland on Micrognathozoa. I am no scientist, and this was an area of science utterly unknown to me. But it was truly fascinating to learn something perfectly new – and I hope that those of you who come to After Hours: Science Uncovered, will experience something similar.

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Join our NaturePlus Science Uncovered community to follow more of the hot science discussions and read the latest blogs.

 

Find out more about the night's activities and scientists in our What's on blog

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Last Friday saw the last of our summer After Hours for this year, at which we were descended upon by some 150 enthusiastic knitters and stitchers for Stitch London’s Stitch a Squid event.

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Squidius knittius observes the great stitch up in the Museum's Central Hall

After an initial scrum in the Central Hall that reminded me of the wild pony round-up in Misty of Chincoteague, the stitchers settled down to a quiet hum of activity that lasted for the rest of the night.

 

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There were 3 workshops for those who wanted to learn to knit, and Stitch London brought in their amazing Giant Stitched Squid (Squidius knittius as they term it, pictured above and right) which we put out on display in the Hall. Stitch London organiser Lauren O’Farrell gave me some fascinating facts about the squid. Some 162 orange recycled plastic bags had been turned into the 1,080 metres (3543 feet) of yarn from which Squidius knittius was crafted; and it took approximately 80 hours to knit on size 12mm needles. 

I’d cadged some specimen jars in various shapes and sizes from Clare Valentine, our Head of Collections, and Stitch London used these to display their cute knitted interpretations of a coleaocanth, viper fish (see below), snipe eel and oar fish, all created from specimens in our Deep Sea exhibition.

Tony Rice, the equally enthusiastic deep sea expert, gave an extremely entertaining talk in the Attenborough Studio on the HMS Challenger voyage.  Curator Andrew Cabrinovic from Zoology kindly brought along some specimens collected on the voyage as a bonus.

 

From 6 September, we start to dismantle the Deep Sea exhibition. It always seems sad after you have lived with an exhibition for so long, to see it taken down and an echoing empty gallery left behind. You can still catch The Deep Sea though if you are quick - it is on until 5 September.

But of course, unless they take down The Deep Sea we won’t be able to put Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year on, and I know that 1000s of you will want to be visiting that at winter After Hours, which begin on Friday 29 October.

Ahead of that, coming up fast apace like that herd of Chincoteague ponies out of the surf, is our massive After Hours: Science Uncovered night, our biggest ever after hours event.

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More than 50 of our scientists will be in action on this night, and you can be a part of this intriguing event, like the half a million people across Europe who will be engaging with science in 200 cities on 24 September. Take a look at our website and see just what is on offer at the Museum.

Knitted viper fsh in specimen jar - my favourite of the tiny sea creatures Lauren and her team created
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Looking out of my office window at the grey fug of rain cloud hanging over the London skyline I am rather hoping that the last of our first ever summer After Hours, tonight 27 August, doesn't turn out weather-wise to be a bit of a damp squid.

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If it does rain, we’ll shift the bar and food offer into the Darwin Centre atrium but as I’ve been assured that the forecast is for fine weather I am keeping my fingers crossed we can bask in the last of the summer After Hours sunshine(!)

 

blue-sea-creature-800.jpgAs well as the last chance to visit The Deep Sea exhibition in the evening, we are very much looking forward to having Stitch London here for Stitch a Squid, a 3-hour knitting event. If you would like to create the rather cute mini squid shown above, then come along any time from 18.30 and Stitch London will be very happy to teach you this very simple pattern. And you can take mini squid home with you.

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I'm sure you'll enjoy the artistry of Stitch London’s organiser Lauren O’Farrell and her team. Lauren has knitted a life-size model (8 metres) of our giant squid, Archie, out of recycled plastic bags, a truly amazing feat, bearing in mind that when we met up 2 weeks ago, when Lauren came in for a photo shoot, she’d only knitted about 2 foot of it!

 

Knitted Archie will be on display in our Central Hall, and is truly a sight not to be missed. The Stitch Londoners are also displaying some amazing tiny knitted marine specimens dotted around the hall, so look out for these. Here's Lauren busy photographing one of the tiny specimens, on the right.

 

Ricardo Curbelo, an amazing Columbian harpist of international renown will be playing some of his Latin American rhythms in the Darwin Centre atrium so do try to catch him.

 

 

We're hoping Archie the knitted giant squid will make an appearance back at the Museum in the near future.

 

At our last August After Hours, we've also got a fascinating talk about the historic HMS Challenger journey by marine expert Tony Rice, in the Attenborough Studio.

 

We've enjoyed this first season of summer After Hours, and we will soon planning our winter run of After Hours - the late night opening of Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

 

In the meantime, watch out for our special After Hours science festival coming next on 24 September.

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Enjoy some of the latest photos from our first-ever Summer After Hours last month.

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Relaxing out on the new Darwin Centre Courtyard amphitheatre-style terrace as the sun set on our first Summer After Hours in June

Highlights of the evening for visitors were the Darwin Centre Courtyard terrace - the tables looked great with small hurricane lamps on them - and the Victorian-style Hendricks bar out on the terrace offering some fab summer cocktails.

 

Adrian Rundle's microsossil workshop in Central Hall was also popular, and those who went on the Up Close and Personal guided tour of The Deep Sea exhibition and the Wildlife Garden really enjoyed themselves.

 

James Maclaine, our affable fish curator, who led The Deep Sea tour, got some nice comments from those on the tour, like “I really enjoyed the tour and found the part about what happens to a whale when it dies very interesting!” Catching a magical glimpse of one of our normally shy resident fox cubs, who popped up  from the undergrowth to take a look at the unexpected evening visitors, was a special treat for those on the Wildlife Garden tour.

 

We have another treat lined up for you at the After Hours event on 30 July - Round the World Ping. This is part of Ping London, a month-long festival of table tennis-related events. So if you fancy a little sporting activity on your Friday night, why not make a date in your diary? Bats and balls are provided! Watch this space for more news.

Click on the photos in the gallery to enlarge them

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Outside tables and chairs to enjoy a drink and the picnic-style meu from the Darwin Centre bar, by lamp light

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At the start of the After Hours Up Close and Personal tour, visitors gather round ready to plunge into The Deep Sea exhibition. After Hours guided tours of the exhibition are led by the Museum's Fish Curator, James Maclaine

 

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After Hours visitors on their guided tour of The Deep Sea exhibition stop at the whale fall display - the centrepiece of the exhibition

 

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The quirky Hendrick's Kiosk of Curious Concoctions bar out on the Courtyard terrace proved a huge hit with its cool summer cocktails. Bellinis, gin fizz, Hendrick's Buck and beer...

 

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Jazz guitar in the Darwin Centre's atrium was performed by Michael Winawer and John Barwood from the Royal College of Music

 

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Up Close and Personal Tour: Caroline Ware, the Wildlife Garden Manager, showing visitors around our lovely wildlife garden at dusk, where they caught a magical glimpse of one of our normally shy resident fox cubs who popped up to take a look at the visitors and baby moorhens on the pond

 

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Adrian Rundle's fun microfossil workshop in the Museum's Central Hall attracted a lot of interest. Fact: Bill Wyman took part in this workshop when we put it on at the recent VIP launch of The Deep Sea exhibition

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Superbly timed to coincide with the World Cup and Wimbledon, but don’t let that put you off coming, our first ever summer After Hours is happening on Friday 25 June.

 

Fortunately the sun is shining in the sky, in the immortal words of the Electric Light Orchestra, so brilliantly rendered by Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer on his banjolele at Exhibition Road Music Day on Sunday. At least the sun was shining when I started writing this blog.

 

So come along for a unique urban picnic experience at the Museum and also get acquainted with our summer blockbuster exhibition The Deep Sea, pictured below. We will be open until 21.30 on Friday.

 

We'll have an interesting Victorian-style bar out on the Darwin Centre Courtyard terrace, shown left, where you can have a bellini, beer or gin fizz and reminisce about how Kitchener knew your father. We have live jazz, picnic rugs for hire, and a suitably summery food menu for you to try out.

 

The Darwin Centre will be open if you want to visit the Cocoon and you can also take part in the Up Close & Personal expert guided tours of The Deep Sea exhibition and the Wildlife Garden.hanging-whale.jpg

 

During the evening, we will have a free microfossil workshop in the Central Hall.

 

Bill Wyman took part in this workshop when we put it on at the recent VIP launch of The Deep Sea – much to my astonishment! The workshop is great fun, so do take a look at it.


There are more After Hours to come on 30 July and 27 August.


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It’s a hard job, but someone’s got to do it, I think, reeling back to my office after an exhaustive food tasting for the new After Hours summer menu.

 

It is surprising how tiring trying out 20 dishes can be. I wouldn’t normally expect to be eating chocolate mousse or tabouleh, or indeed both, at 10.30 am, but it is surprising how quickly you can adjust.

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A food tasting is like a sensory jigsaw, moving dish components around, adjusting flavours and colours and seasonings, until everything fits as well as it possibly can. For us, it also involves a huge amount of discussion, a mass of cutlery and quite a lot of mess.

 

The menu is a very summery one, and you will be able to enjoy it out on our soon-to-be opened Darwin Centre courtyard terrace over a glass of wine or a cocktail

 

Harry Housen, the General Manager for our benugo caterers, and I tested the menu under the inscrutable eyes of our excellent chefs Richard Carter and Olivier Dhainaut. A few months back I gave my outline brief for the kind of food that I would like to offer for the summer late openings of The Deep Sea exhibition. The chefs had come up with pretty much exactly what I had in mind. The tasting was to road test their suggestions, finesse as necessary and finalise the menu and pricings.

 

We'll have a whole picnic thing going on for summer After Hours - so do come along to one (or indeed all!) of the evenings and try out our new menu. My favourite was the flatbread with chicken, chorizo, crème fraiche, pepper confit and baby spinach, closely followed by the chocolate and orange mousse. It was difficult not to scoff the lot and had Harry and the chefs not been there I probably would have.

 

You can also enjoy a delicious peach or mango belline, a chilled beer, or just a glass of wine at summer After Hours. Why not while away a summer evening on our new Darwin Centre terrace after experiencing our amazing new exhibition, The Deep Sea. It is really not to be missed.


The first After Hours summer event will be on 25 June and give visitors the chance to enjoy The Deep Sea exhibition and the Darwin Centre in the evening, with more special events lined up. Visit the website for more details soon.

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Late-night visitors wowed by the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition

We had the biggest turn-out for Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year at After Hours so far this season on 29 January, and as many people went to visit the Darwin Centre on the night. All of which was great to see.

 

after-hours-renouf-talk-as.jpgAt his sell-out event in the Darwin Centre's Attenborough Studio (left), Jonathan Renouf, series producer of BBC Two's illuminating How the Earth Made Us gave us a diverting account of the making of the 5-episode series. It's about how our human history has been shaped and developed by the planet’s elementary forces.

 

The footage Jonathan showed included arresting film from the ‘Fire’ episode with the likeable and enthusiastic presenter, geologist Iain Stewart, in a special fire-proof suit walking through a wall of orange fire. Jonathan told us how, out of shot, a horde of firemen and fire equipment stood ready to douse Iain as he walked through the flames - it being particularly dangerous if he fell over. His fire-protective suit was so heavy, he’d have been unable to right himself. Other fascinating shots were those from ‘Wind’ taken from the peak of Mt Connor in central Australia, which pulled right up to the atmosphere to show the immense wind forces that circulate the mountain. He also told his fascinated audience how a succession of shots were taken by helicopter and then stitched in with satellite images. And how, if you looked very carefully, you could see the join! I’ve looked several times at these shots on BBC iplayer and I still can’t see it. The film clips worked brilliantly in the studio as they are so immersive. Jonathan also brought along a nice surprise for us - some very amusing outtakes from the series, which the audience loved.

 

affer-hours-climatecchange-wall-600.jpgOther Darwin Centre hotspots included the Climate Change Wall (right) just outside the Attenborough Studio. And up in Cocoon, another great communicator, our entertaining curator of arachnids, Jan Beccaloni, attracted quite a crowd in front of the glass-fronted specimen preparation area. It was great to see people engaging so enthusiastically with science on a Friday night out. Showing the public our behind-the-scenes science is of course one of the driving factors behind the Darwin Centre, but that people are doing this as an evening-out experience is really fantastic.

 

Explaining that she was behind glass because of pest control requirements, Jan was working on British arachnid specimens destined for the new Angela Marmont Centre. She had, as promised, also brought along an example of the world’s biggest spider, as well as a black widow and a scorpion. ‘I feel I may have erred in not pointing out these are not British,’ said Jan jocularly, as her audience measured up mentally the goliath bird-eating tarantula in the large specimen jar beside her.


There are only two more late openings of Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year this season on 26 February and 26 March. So do book your tickets well in advance to avoid disappointment if you want to see this year’s competition winners after hours.

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jonathan-renouf-160.jpgThis Friday’s After Hours (29 January) sees the second of our very exciting Meet the BBC Series Producer events in the Attenborough Studio. This time, Jonathan Renouf (left), series producer of BBC Two’s momentous How the Earth Made Us will be showing clips and images from the series. It is a real thrill for us to be running these fascinating events.

 

Back at November’s After Hours, Martha Holmes, the wonderful producer of the BBC’s Life series had to come across country to give her talk and only just made it in the nick of time due to transport problems, so we are relieved that Jonathan is coming from North London.


We will be putting a bar just outside the Attenborough Studio as usual on Friday night where you can relax over a drink before or after the event, or after you've visited the Darwin Centre Cocoon.

 

Jan Beccaloni, our excellent and very amusing curator of arachnids, will be doing a stint in the specimen preparation area in Cocoon. She tells me she will be working on spiders that are destined for the Angela Marmont Centre - our showcase for UK biodiversity which opens later this year. Jan is thinking about bringing along some other specimens from our collections as well, including examples of the world's biggest spider! Hopefully no one will faint. Including me. Come along and have a chat with Jan - she will be very pleased to see you.

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Tickets for this Friday's late opening of our Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition in the Waterhouse Gallery have nearly sold out, so you'll have to be really quick if you'd like to see the exhibition at this After Hours. Look out for this beautiful leopard image if you go.

 

We are starting planning now for our new summer After Hours. This will be a chance for you to catch up with our fascinating new exhibition The Deep after hours and enjoy a summer cocktail or two and our new summer menu out in the Darwin Centre gardens, so make a date in your diary for the first event, which is on 25 June. If the weather holds it will be fantastic.

 

If it rains it will be slightly less fantastic but we have contingency plans!

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It was a real privilege to have Martha Holmes, the BBC Life series producer with us at our November After Hours night. Martha (pictured left) had very kindly agreed to give a talk on the making of the BBC's Life series and it proved to be a truly fascinating event.

 

The high-tech, very impressive Darwin Centre Attenborough Studio was the venue, a fitting place to be discussing Sir David Attenborough's new Life series. Martha was introduced by Nathan Budd, who used to work with her at the BBC Natural History Museum Unit in Bristol, and is now an Assistant Producer in our Interactive Film Unit here. Nathan is a member of the After Hours project team and the event was his idea.

 

Martha is a great speaker, and made a perfect, humorous and quite moving selection of images and film clips to illustrate her talk. And her talk was so engrossing, in particular the dedication of the cameramen in difficult environments was an eye-opener, as well as seeing clips of the animal behaviour that  Martha emphasised new technology is allowing us to see for the first time.

 

What came across most profoundly for me was the BBC’s commitment to excellence. Martha explained how only the very best shots were used in the Life series - even if that meant disappointing the cameramen who had endured horrendous conditions to get footage that would not ultimately be used.  It is this process of selection that ensures the very best footage comes to our screens.

 

I noticed a small, rapt boy in the audience with his parents - he was first in line afterwards at the book signing and went off happily with his signed Christmas present of the Life series book that Martha co-wrote with Michael Gunton.

 

As Martha signed away, Nathan told me how he’d spent a year living totally isolated from civilisation when he was working as a cameraman on the BBC’s Yellowstone series. He said that about five shots from his year’s footage were eventually used. He also told me some amusing stories of running away from the wildlife which, of course, included grizzly and brown bears. Now all I need to do is persuade Nathan to do an event about cameramen living in the wild...

 

Come along to our next After Hours on Friday, 29 January 2010, when we're planning another special event.

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Central Hall, the place to meet at After Hours, where you can enjoy music, tapas and cocktails

 

The first After Hours event this year took place on Friday 30 October. For the uninitiated, After Hours is our season of Museum lates when we open the doors until 22.30 every last Friday of the month, except for December. This year it goes on until 26 March 2010. Have a look at the After Hours web pages to find out what's on offer.

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A glass of champagne in the Red Bar

 

This year is the 5th season of late night openings of the Museum. As well as giving you a great Friday night out at our extremely popular Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition,this year we also have a bar open in our new Darwin Centre and some special events planned there in the Attenborough Studio.

 

I'm the After Hours project manager and over the season I hope to bring you regular updates. In this blog I will be giving you a behind-the-scenes look at our winter lates and news on our planned summer late openings.

 

We started After Hours in the winter of 2005. Our intention was to give people who couldn't come to the Museum in the day or at weekends the chance to come and see our Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition in the evening. Back in 2005 I was thrilled when our Head of Business asked me to set up the After Hours project. My enthusiasm, however, might have been tempered had I realised just what I was taking on!

 

Only 150 people turned up at the first After Hours event, much to our horror. But things have progressed nicely over the years and we almost always sell out. It is a great project to be working on and I have a fantastic project team behind me.

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Relaxing in the Central Hall Blue Bar

 

This year, the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition has a great new home in our Waterhouse Gallery. As well as the Red Bar in Fossil Way near the exhibition gallery and the Central Hall Blue Bar which serves tapas-style food with drinks, there's a new bar in the Darwin Centre which we hope you'll stop by at - before or after you experience Cocoon.

 

Our shop will also be open, where you're sure to find some unique Christmas presents.

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Laura Harmour

Laura Harmour

Member since: Nov 18, 2009

Find out what will be happening at Lates - the late night opening of the Museum on the last Friday of (almost) every month.

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