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Museums come to life for special night time event

A flyer for Arnold Ridleys’ Ghost Train play, dating back to 1926

A flyer for Arnold Ridleys’ Ghost Train play, dating back to 1926

An engraving showing how the 'Pepper's Ghost' effect is created

An engraving showing how the 'Pepper's Ghost' effect is created

Press release issued: 3 May 2013

Ghostly tales, dinosaur bones and rare books are just some of the fascinating treasures from the vaults of the University of Bristol which will be shown to the public as part of the Museums at Night initiative – an annual late night festival of art, culture and heritage.

It’s the first year the University has taken part in the UK-wide festival which seeks to encourage visitors into museums, galleries and heritage sites by throwing their doors open after hours and putting on special evening events.

Three areas will be open to the public on Thursday, 16 May, showcasing extraordinary fossils and crystals from the Geology Collection, the ghostly archives of the Theatre Collection and some literary gems from the Special Collections library.

Visitors are also invited to take a tour of the Wills Memorial Building and enjoy night time views of the city from the tower, some 68 metres above Park Street.

Museums at Night is designed to encourage new audiences into museums and galleries and to encourage them to do something different with their evening. Over 121,000 visitors attended Museums at Night 2012, with well over 500 cultural events across the UK to choose from.

Alight: the unexpected in the dark – Wills Memorial Building, 6pm to 10pm

There will be an opportunity to see behind the scenes of the Wills Memorial Building, which houses the Geology Collection – over 100,000 fossils and crystals of historical and scientific importance based in the School of Earth Sciences.

Visitors are invited to view and handle bones of ancient sea dragons and the Bristol dinosaur, while young scientists and curatorial staff will shed some light on the fascinating range of colours in natural gemstones and crystals.

There will also be underground tours of the basement, which is normally closed to the public.

Neville Gabie, artist in residence for the Cabot Institute, will be exhibiting three new video installations as part of his ‘Archiving Oil’ project which explores the impact oil has on our lives.

They will be projected amongst the geological stores and archives in the basement of the University, which is normally closed to the public.

Depicting ghosts – Theatre Collection, 6pm to 7.15pm and 7.30pm to 8.45pm

The Theatre Collection, one of the world’s largest archives of British theatre history and live art, has organised an evening which will explore the depiction of ghosts within the theatrical world.

There will be a short lecture on ghosts in Bristol Old Vic and a chance to view some of the Theatre Collection’s unique archives, which throw light on the representation of ghosts on stage.

This includes material ranging from rare 18th century engravings to the script for Arnold Ridleys’ Ghost Train. There will also be a hands-on opportunity to try and recreate one of theatre’s best kept secrets - Pepper’s Ghost.

Treasures in Special Collections – 6pm to 6.45pm and 7pm to 7.45pm

The Special Collections archive is one of the most fascinating parts of the University library, housing a rich and diverse range of printed books, archival resources and artefacts which date from the 12th century to the present day.

It will be displaying some of the most exciting objects held in the collection, which opened in 1920, and there will be an opportunity to hear stories from the librarians and archivists.

Among the objects on show will be the first edition of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (published in 1813), the Acta Sanctorum encyclopaedic text examining the lives of Christian saints, works on science and medicine, plus political election materials from the 19th century onwards.

The University of Bristol’s Botanic Garden will also be holding an event for Museums at Night on Sunday, 19 May, to coincide with International Fascination of Plants Day. It will become a living science lab for the day to explore the hidden world of plants, from 10am until 4.30pm.

For further information and details about booking, please see the Centre for Public Engagement’s website.