The European Night of the Museums (French Nuites des Musées).
All over France and in 36 other European countries, thousands of museums open their doors for one night in an exceptional opening to the public on the Saturday closest to 18 May. The event is entirely free, all museums make no charge for entry on this special night. Many of the venues put on music, theatre, games, films and cuisine to tempt the public to venture out in the dead of night and enjoy the collection in a way not normally available.
In France more than 1000 museums and galleries open their doors and several hundred of them put on additional shows and spectacles. From The Louvre in Paris and the Louvre in Lens, the Musee d’Orsay (above), chateau collections right down to small municipal museums all over France the event is designed in such a way to be visitor friendly and festive.
Events begin at sundown and generally end at about one o’clock in the morning though in some of the smaller museums closing may be earlier – depending on visitor numbers. There’s generally a festive air about your visit on this night and we’ve even known some museums to lay on food and wine to really welcome visitors though this tends to be in the smaller museums. Some venues will light the exhibitions by candle light to make it an even more surprising evening, some hand out torches and let you light your own way round. Bands, hurdy gurdys, accordion music, theatrical shows, demonstrations and special guided tours may be available. It is seen as an opportunity to show the wider public the richness of the wonderful heritage collections in museums, and to win new visitors, especially young people and locals who might not always visit somewhere right on their doorstep except in these extraordinary circumstances.
For more details see the French website Nuits des Musees to discover whats on and where…