The McManus getting ready for biggest night of the year

Festival of Museums 2016

The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum is getting ready to host their biggest night of the year on Saturday 14 May. There is a packed evening of entertainment planned where event goers will be transported back in time to the roaring twenties and thirties of Dundee to a time of jazz, cinema and comic books. The museum will bring history to life with a specially curated programme of music, stories, costume and games to celebrate the city’s innovation and design. The McManus also intends to reach a new global audience by streaming highlights of the annual event live for the first time.

Highlights of the event are a chance to see outstanding pieces from the costume collection on show from the 1920s and 30s including a drop-waist beaded number and a wedding dress from 1921.

There will be an exploration of Dundee’s comic art from DC Thomson to the new generation of comic artists living and working within the city. Throughout the evening, staff from Dundee Comic Creative Space will be giving a number of pop up gallery talks. Comic titles from Oor Wullie, The Beano and The Dandy are also highlighted in the current ‘Draw the Line: Old Masters to The Beano’ exhibition. A team of comic creators from Dundee Comics Creative Space and Treehouse Comics will also illustrate the event – capturing the spirit of Festival of Museums 2016 through its audiences and performers. The artwork will be used to create a giant storyboard comic, which will be further shared through social media

In the Dundee & the World gallery, a curator will be on hand to tell visitors about the beautiful Mongolian woman’s headdress that came into the museum in 1931. Decorated with coral, turquoise and silver, headdresses like these were inspiration for Star War’s Princess Amidala. A Mongolian throat singer will create a soundscape set against the fascinating objects in the Dundee and the World gallery.

The ‘Welcome to Our Big Night Out’ pop up cinema  featuring archive film from the National Library of Scotland and audio clips from McManus Oral History archive can be found in the Creative Learning Studio. The short film is ‘Around Dundee in the 1930s’ featuring footage of the docks, Baxter Park and the flying boat Maia and seaplane Mercury that was launched on the Tay in 1938. The Oral History clips also provide an entertaining insight on what sort of entertainment and night life there was for Dundee’s young people growing up in the 1920s, 30s – before the age of television! 

A living history performance will take place in the Landscapes & Lives Gallery, where visitors are introduced to the character of the renowned conservator, Harold Plenderleith (1898-1997). He became known around the world for his advances in scientific conservation and played a major part in preserving the British Museum treasures in both these wars. There will also be the chance to meet the Museum Conservator who will be demonstrating how she is working on an 1820’s straw bonnet, looking at its present condition and its treatment plan. Conservation and Harold Plenderleith will again be the focus of a self-directed tour.

The McManus Shop will provide the opportunity to experience some old school seaside fun with a selection of games from the 1930s including donkey racing, pin the tail and a coconut shy. The McManus Café will be transformed with a 1920s theme with live music provided by ‘The Onion Club’. Dundee Dance Studios will also be treating visitors to a special performance of ‘All That Jazz’ on the evening in the stunning Gothic Hall.

The McManus Youth Action Group will be asking visitors what they think of the evening in a themed ‘Blah, Blah, Blah Booth’ where they will be capturing thoughts and vox-pops.

There will also be swing dance, a ‘Talking Dundee’ show, children’s craft, dressing up as well as the opportunity to find out more about the museum’s supporters group, McManus 168, who will be in period costume during the evening. The museum also plans to engage with online users across the globe by broadcasting highlights of the event via the Periscope app.

Bob Duncan, chair of Leisure & Culture Dundee said

“This event is improving year on year and is a great opportunity to see The McManus really buzzing with excitement. I would encourage everyone to get along and get involved. It really is going to be a fantastic evening.” 

Joanne Orr, chief executive of Museums Galleries Scotland said

“Festival of Museums is about igniting imaginations while celebrating Scotland’s wealth of culture. We’re working with the best museums and galleries from all over the country and this year’s festival is shaping up to be our most exciting yet.”

The Festival of Museums is an annual event coordinated by Museums Galleries Scotland to showcase Scotland’s extensive cultural offering through over 100 exciting day and night time events taking place at cultural attractions across the country. The programme caters to all ages and interests and includes everything from historical re-enactments and night time murder mysteries to children’s storytelling and arts and crafts. The evening is also part of Ignite Dundee, the city’s month long cultural festival.

To register for the event go to

To keep up to date check out Facebook and #FoM2016 #IgniteDundee on Twitter

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