I love arranging entertainment in museums and art galleries: they are great event spaces. There is something magical about being surrounded by invaluable artifacts. And guests have an instant topic of conversation.
Entertainment does work in these spaces, however there are a few considerations to make.
- Space restrictions: with permanent displays, it might be a tight squeeze for guests, waiting staff and musicians. It might be that the entertainment you wanted to use just won’t fit in the space available. With less conventional venues like museums and galleries, it is worthwhile doing a site visit because seeing the space will ensure you fully understand the opportunities as well as the limitations.
- How the artifacts are arranged: displays are often permanent and so the event has to work around these. Or there are displays with ‘do not touch’ on them. Having a wandering violinist or a flashmob with singers or dancers could be a potential hazard! Discuss any of these restrictions early on in the planning process with the venue. It could be that displays could be moved for the evening to avoid damage, or that the entertainers could modify their act for the night.
3. Specific rules on how to use the space: we are aware that many galleries and museums have particular rules for clients and suppliers. Whether this is not to be close to specific exhibitions, not to attach items to walls, covering anything that is to be placed on the floor or even a cellist not to use his/her spike on the floor, we need to know! This information does not always get to the entertainers who have to manage difficult situations on the day as the venue understandably get upset. You would be surprised at how often this happens: we always contact the venue to double check any restrictions. I would recommend you ensure any client informs any supplier early on in the proceedings.
4.Acoustics: often galleries and museums have a lot of hard surfaces (from the class display cabinets). As a general rule, the sound from guests speaking is going to be louder than in a room with curtains, carpeting and wood. If this is a networking or pre-dinner drinks event, be mindful of the background noise before you choose the entertainment. We recently provided a string quartet for an event at an historical venue. The client was concerned that 200 people talking at the pre-dinner drinks would drown out their playing. We worked out the best position to ‘amplify’ the sound using the walls – and also a location where guests could see the musicians. The client was delighted: her guests were able to enjoy listening to the musicians with out their playing being too loud or them being inaudible!
5. Sound levels: there are a number of venues we have worked at, where sound restrictions have been in place. There is a slight possibility that valuable artifacts might be damaged through the vibrations of loud music. We worked at an historical venue where a DJ had ignored the sound restrictions and two windows were damaged! As a general rule acoustic music is quieter than recorded music – even quiet recorded music. However some acoustic instruments (brass and percussion) are noisy. There could be someone at the venue who is a specialist in preventing artifact damage, or the venue could advise you on where to locate the musicians so their sound has a minimal impact on the artifacts.
6. When can the musicians arrive, set up and rehearse in the space? Rather than getting your entertainers to arrive 30 minutes before, to set up, they might appreciate the chance to rehearse in the space and to change their choreography to adapt to the space.
Running an event in museum or gallery spaces is wonderful, and from an entertainment perspective it is always a treat. It is worthwhile spending a little more time planning, to ensure it is a great success. Good luck!