Museums at Night Ahoy!

Cutty Sark
Cutty Sark

Ahoy, maties! Welcome aboard the Cutty Sark– or as auto-correct would have it, the Curry Shark-  the lastest ever Tea Clipper (launched on 22nd November 1869) and fastest ever, completing her globe-spanning journey in an astonishing and record-breaking 73 days. I have a go at breaking this record, but more on that later.

But what am I doing at the Cutty Sark? I was helping out at the launch of Culture24‘s fifth Museums at Night festival. Taking a break from my usual data-monkeying duties, I took the helm (see what I did there?) of the cloak-room. To find out more about what happened the party over at the WeAreCulture24 blog.

The Adventurer as The Captain
The Adventurer as The Captain

Alas, the hat didn’t stay on all night, but for the rest of this post the Adventurer shall refer to himself as the Captain.

“Wow,” said a colleague on the way to the party, “a heritage site you haven’t been to yet!” with equal parts surprise and astonishment. I know, there aren’t many of those left! Luckily, the Captain got a chance to explore the ship, so without further ado, on with the adventure!

Cutty Sark
Cutty Sark

The first thing I noticed about the ship was the haunting smell of the tea it once carried. I’m not sure if the smell lingered from cargoes of days past or whether the smell was added later. Either way, it was magically evocative, you may have noticed I have a thing for tea and also think that smells in museums really add to the effect.

There were some really fun interactive on board too, from  a low-tech “Scrub the deck” activity (no. really) to one where you could captain the Cutty Sark and get her safely home, lickety split. The aims are twofold: don’t get shipwrecked (easier said than done) and try and beat Captain Woodget’s record.

Interactive at the Cutty Sark
Interactive at the Cutty Sark

I nearly did it, but unfortunately I got stuck in the doldrums. Maybe I should go back to the Scrubbing the Deck activity?

Being on board at night was a really different experience, which is what Museums at Night is all about. The after-hours opening also made for some lovely photos (I tried my best with my phone).

View from the Cutty Sark
View from the Cutty Sark
Cutty Sark's figureheads
Cutty Sark’s figureheads

The figureheads were spectacular, and right in the middle you can see Cutty Sark herself, with the tails of Tam O’Shanter‘s horse still in her vice-like grip.

If you liked reading about the Cutty Sark, you can see the badges from there and other Royal Museums Greenwich museums at The Museum of Museum Badges.


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