In our latest guest post, Morag Calderbank, one of the Information Officers at the UK Supreme Court, London, tells us why her team are excited about taking part in Museums at Night for the first time.
As an information officer at the Supreme Court I am part of a small team dedicated to making the Supreme Court open, transparent, friendly and accessible to the public. Since the Court opened in 2009 our visitor numbers have been steadily increasing, with more than 75,000 people coming through the doors over the last 12 months.
Through educational and architectural tours, outreach projects, running debate days for young people, numerous open days (which include arts and crafts activities), consistently refreshing our exhibition area and being able to take part in something as experiential as Museums at Night, we are continually striving to expand and diversify our audience.
What is the Supreme Court?
The Supreme Court first opened its doors to the public in October 2009 following a two year renovation of our glorious neo-gothic building, formerly the Middlesex Guildhall. The Supreme Court acts as the final court of appeal in the UK. Its judges used to be located in the House of Lords; serving as the appellate committee of the House of Lords. The judges work mainly in committee rooms along a vast committee corridor.
The need for a Supreme Court was primarily to establish a clearer separation between the three branches of Parliament; the executive, judiciary and legislature. Its previous location made this distinction rather blurred. The UK’s top court also needed to be more user friendly. By locating the judges within Parliament, the public found it difficult to access and many people were unclear about their role.
Why Museums at Night?
The Museums at Night festival attracted our attention as a really innovative way to reach out to the public. It enables our building to open after hours to welcome prospective visitors who can’t come and see us during our usual opening hours from Monday to Friday (9.30am to 4.30pm). Our event, which we’re delighted to say has now sold out, offers the chance to explore the highest court in the land in a relaxed atmosphere – we’ll be positively encouraging no ‘silence in court’!
Our hopes for the event
We want to inspire people to find out more about the law and see how it can relate to their own lives – maybe even challenge some misconceptions about courts and judges.
Our Museums at Night happening will be extraordinary as it allows the building to be seen in a new light; through the eyes of a court artist, through the perspective of an architect and even as a performance space for actors and musicians. We hope that our visitors will have a stimulating and fun evening and leave knowing a little bit more about the important work that goes on here.
Morag is part of a small team making the Supreme Court accessible to the public. Morag started at the Supreme Court in June 2010 having previously worked for two years as a Visitor Assistant at the Houses of Parliament. She has an undergraduate degree from Sussex University in ‘American Studies’ and a Masters in ‘Learning and Visitor Studies in Museums and Galleries’ from Leicester University. In her spare time Morag sings with the Sing Tower Hamlets choir – which is great fun!
Follow the Supreme Court on Twitter @UKSupremeCourt
Thank you, Morag!
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