Doors Open After Dark: Sparking Stories in the Community

Written by GAC Staff

The Guelph Civic Museum opened their doors to the community with the return of Doors Open After Dark at the end of April, kicking off the spring season. This was the first Doors Open After Dark to run in-person since the COVID-19 pandemic and it went off without a hitch!

There was a great lineup of events and activities ranging from interactive art murals to trying your hand at puppeteering to amazing musical performances. In fact, the lobby was filled with the sounds of bagpipes and drumming intermittently throughout the evening from Skirl Bagpipes and Drums and Tdot Batu Drumming. The Museum made sure there was something for everyone to enjoy. There were quiet and meditative activities like doodling on a glow-in-the-dark chalkboard wall with local artists Maeve Hind and Alexa Collette. Other activities got the creative juices flowing, like creating a stained glass mural with Ahmri Vandeborne from Otherwise Studios. There were even some fun and downright silly activities, such as the giant marionette installation, the “Release Your Inner Child with Dress-up” photo booth by Liz Johnston, and face painting with Tania Crook.

The most important part of the event though? Community, of course! Val Harrison, Supervisor of Visitor Experiences at the Guelph Civic Museum, expressed how lovely it was to see everyone engaging with the activities and having fun. For many of those that attended Doors Open After Dark, the event was their first experience at the museum. It was important, Val explained, that the programing really animated the museum’s exhibitions and spaces so visitors perceived the museum as an exciting and unexpected space to visit. There were 10-minute Museum Vault tours that gave visitors a different way to experience the Museum’s collections. Even the most unassuming of spaces like the elevators were animated with theatre performances from Tim Clarke.

Many of the activities during the night took inspiration from the Guelph Civic Museum’s tagline ‘Your stories live here.’ The activities, such as the Glow-in-the-Dark Chalk Mural, encouraged visitors to tell their stories, especially those that connected them to their Guelph community. The final mural had so many wonderful stories preserved afterwards, such as “I met my best friend here,” “family circle,” “Guelph brings me peace and growth,” “be who you needed,” “you can be weird here,” and many more lovely thoughts from our community.

Doors Open After Dark successfully brings the community together through activities facilitated by local creatives to gather individual stories and weave them together to make all of the interconnected parts visible. The Museum is a place where our contemporary stories live alongside our stories from the past. More than just a fun-filled night, the return of Doors Open After Dark facilitates a return to deeper community connections, storytelling, and understanding of what it means to be a part of the Guelph Community.

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