The reactions of the public were very positive and we noted visitors coming from all over Belgium and even from abroad to attend the event, Stéphanie Masuy, the Coordinator of the Museum Night Fever and the Deputy Director of Brussels Museums Council, told V. Piecková in an exclusive interview.
Ms. Masuy: What was at the origin of the idea of organizing the very first year of Museum Night Fever in Brussels? Were you inspired by some similar event in another city or country?
The Night of Museums is a concept that has existed for many years. This event was initiated by museums in Berlin. In Brussels, we have already had the Late-Evening Openings of the Brussels Museums accompanied by very attractive interactive activities similar to those offered by many other Museum Nights. Therefore, we decided to make the Museum Night a totally different event suggesting ‘a night for youth and by youth’ (which does not prevent the wide public from participating in the event). We gave to the event a unique title ‘Museum Night Fever’ in order to highlight the dynamism of the project, its innovative character and to avoid confusion with the Brussels Museums Late-Evening Openings [in French « Nocturnes »].
Brussels Museums Council represents and works with some 90 museums of the Brussels-Capital Region. What were the main criteria to choose the final 19 participating museums to Museum Night Fever 2011?
The museums take part in the event on a voluntary basis. However, they have to be located relatively close to the City center in order to be able to easily organize the STIB shuttle bus service [STIB is the Belgian urban public transport company]. Equally, they need to have a sufficient capacity to receive at least a hundred people at once. Currently, twenty museums participate every year, but they may vary. Consequently, it gives us the possibility to present a varied offer. Nevertheless, the number of 25 museums would seem more appropriate considering the growing public demand. The problem is that the event is very expensive for museums (personnel costs for extra hours, reinforced security, programme, etc.). Even if they are enthusiastic about the event, this budget aspect remains still very binding.
The fourth edition of MNF was very successful: all 14, 000 tickets have been sold out by 11pm. Did it meet your expectations in all directions?
It was a great success indeed. The reactions of the public were very positive and we noted visitors coming from all over Belgium and even from abroad to attend the event. The press has been also very interested in projects developed by youth in collaboration with museums. It is also important for these young people to receive such recognition.
There is still room for improvements: as mentioned above, we assume that with so many interested visitors, it would be desirable to have 3 or 4 more museums in offer to get museums a little less crowded, especially in the center. As for the STIB shuttle buses which service is very effective and appreciated by the public, their frequency should be increased again (although it has been already improved this year).
Finally, we are reviewing the concept of after party. It seems important to us to offer something festive late at night but Bozar does not have an unlimited reception capacity. Therefore, we have to reject some people which sometimes leads to frustrations. We realize that not everyone knows the after party is just an event among many others on the Museum Night Fever schedule. Some people (fortunately a minority) buy their pass solely because of the after party. Therefore, they are obviously disappointed if they are not admitted. From our point of view, the Museum Night Fever is primarily a Night of Museums with ludic and festive activities offered by young people in order to highlight the museum collections and exhibitions. In the future, we will communicate about it more clearly and propose a different concept to avoid attracting an audience interested only in the after party.