Museum open evenings in Dorchester are a big hit

Dorset Echo: Colin and Fiona Baker with their children Robbie and Isobel Colin and Fiona Baker with their children Robbie and Isobel

THOUSANDS flocked to Dorchester over the weekend to experience a unique night-time experience at the museums in the county town.

The Museums at Night event on Saturday allowed families to visit all seven attractions with just one ticket.

This is the second year the event has run with this year’s added attraction of the Roman Town House attracting around 3,500 people.

The other museums were The Dinosaur Museum, the Terracotta Warriors Museum, the Dorset Teddy Bear Museum, The Keep Military Museum, Dorset County Museum and the Tutankhamun Exhibition, which were all open between 5pm and 9pm.

It was part of a national celebration that saw museums across the country opening their doors after hours.

The Baker family, including Fiona, 42, Colin, 47, and their two children Robbie, nine, and Isobel, six, were one of many enjoying the late night event.

Mum Fiona said the family, from Wareham, went along to the event when it was held for the first time last year.

She said: “We had such a good time last year and the children really wanted to go again.

“The children liked the Roman Town House best.

“They learnt lots about how the Romans lived so it was quite educational.

“We went into the Horse and Red Umbrella as well for a drink and a cake. It was brilliant, really good fun.”

She added: “My husband and I had been to the Dorset County Museum before but we find the museums quite expensive for a day out, but this event was really quite affordable.

“We would definitely be tempted to go again if they held this event next year.”

Tim Batty, from the World Heritage Museums and Exhibitions, hailed this year’s event as a great success.

He estimated that there were around 500 people in each museum at one time, amounting to 3,500 across all seven.

Mr Batty said: “The evening went very well and it definitely lived up to last year.

“There was a great atmosphere in Dorchester.

“Normally the town is quiet at that time of night but everyone was out exploring and visiting all the museums.

“There were several cafes and restaurants doing special offers so lots of people were taking advantage of that, too.”

Mr Batty added the variety of the various attractions Dorchester had to offer was what made the Museums at Night event so special.

He said: “Part of the charm of the event is because each one has something different to offer so people can zip around and find the best bits.”

Phil Gordon, projects director at the Dorchester Business Improvement District (BID), added: “Museums at Night is really growing in stature and it is a brilliant way for people to explore the huge range of museums in Dorchester.

“I am delighted to know we have matched or possibly exceeded last year’s attendance.

“This is a great opportunity for cafes and restaurants to benefit and support the event next year and maybe even some of the shops might choose to stay open later.”

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