Friday night is museum night!

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‘Museums and music’ has a nice ring to it, and that’s just what BBC Radio 2 will be offering this evening. This special broadcast of Friday Night is Music Night will feature a concert celebrating the six nominees for this year’s Museum of the Year.

Recorded last week at the Mermaid Theatre in London, the finalists each presented two objects they had chosen from their collection. The short talks were then brilliantly accompanied by The BBC Concert Orchestra, playing pieces inspired by these unique objects.

Radio 2 presenter Ken Bruce with the Tradescant Walrus

Radio 2 presenter Ken Bruce with the Tradescant Walrus

Walking on stage to the theme from Jurassic Park, our director, Professor Paul Smith, presented two real treasures: a Tsetse Fly sent back from the Zambesi by Dr Livingstone and an impressively-tusked walrus skull. The skull belonged to the Tradescants, so is part of the oldest collections in the Museum. It’s also believed to have inspired Lewis Carroll to write ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’.

The Friday Night event was a great opportunity to present to the broad Radio 2 listenership two of our most iconic specimens, which tell extraordinary stories.
The Walrus specimen links the foundation of the collection in the late 1590s to the Beatles in 1967, via Lewis Carroll and Walt Disney, whereas the Tsetse Fly collected by David Livingstone tells stories of the European exploration of Africa, but also of disease control in humans and farm livestock.

– Professor Paul Smith, Museum director

Other objects presented to the audience included one of the clay poppies from the Tower of Londons ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ and a tambourine signed by soldiers of the First World War who convalesced at the Georgian country house, Dunham Massey.

So get your radio tuned in this evening at 8 o’clock. Hear the stories behind these surprising objects and the music that will bring them to life.

Rachel Parle, Interpretation and Education Officer

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