From after-hours events to the impulse to collect: vote now and help us stage a Museums at Night weekend unlike any other.
We’ll keep this simple: we need your help. Manchester has been shortlisted in the annual Connect 10 competition and we need your votes to help turn an idea – a clever, communal and slightly crazy idea all about museums and their collections – into reality. Four venues are competing to host the artist Richard Wentworth for Museums at Night, the annual after-hours celebration of the best of Britain’s museums and galleries. Among them is a trio of Mancunian museums and galleries – and we really, really want to ensure that Wentworth comes to us in May to head up a city-wide, cultural weekend that promises to be something else.
Richard Wentworth is, frankly, awesome, a sculptor and curator whose work has changed the face of British sculpture. He’s no stranger to the North either: Tate Liverpool hosted the largest ever retrospective of his work in 2005. And what he wants to do in Manchester as part of Museums at Night this May looks intriguing to say the least. “I’d like to explore how things are assembled,” he says, “not just physically, with objects and collections, but socially, with people. As an exercise of mass observation I’ve always wanted to kidnap an entire tube, train, bus or tram at a random moment to find out who’s on it, where they’re going and why. Alternatively…I’d like to somehow stage a silent riot, which would require the participation of several hundred visitors in a large public space. Whatever the outcome of this collaboration, it will relate specifically to the compass of what the museum or gallery does.”
Mass protest, mass observation: Manchester is no stranger to either. From the Peterloo Massacre to the 2011 riots, these are concepts that the city is perfectly at home with. But what we’d like to do in Manchester is to take this idea and apply it to the incredibly rich collections our museums and galleries hold. The Manchester Museum has, for example, over six million objects in its stores, while the Whitworth has the finest textiles and wallpapers outside London. We’re not short of an artefact or two, and if we win Wentworth, he’ll not only pry into these collections but invite Manchester collectors to share their own – and from this curate an “exhibition in a night” that shows the depth and diversity, the weirdness and the wonderfulness of the things that people are compelled to collect.
It won’t be just a night, though. This will be a full weekend of activity that, kicking off with after-hours events at The Manchester Museum, the Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery, will spill out across the city and into other venues such as the National Football Museum and John Rylands Library. There will be a collectors’ fair, too, and there will be performance artists and musicians with similar collecting obsessions, such as the excellent vintage 78 DJs, It’s A Wind Up. It will be a mass observation of the passion behind collections big and small, and it’ll be for everyone.
So, if you like art, please vote. If you love Manchester, please vote. If you are a collector yourself, and love objects and artefacts and hoarding and displaying things, please vote. Heck, if you’re just intrigued to find out how Wentworth can turn his idea into a weekend of activity about collecting, please vote. Vote now. We can’t do it without you.