In Ben Stiller’s Night At The Museum family action movies, educational attractions become a world of adventures when darkness falls, as exhibits spring to life.
Though this is obviously fantasy, there is some truth to the idea that a museum becomes all the more intriguing after normal closing time.
And now a national scheme called Museums at Night will see museums all over the country open their doors for visitors for some out-of-hours fun – and Portsmouth is no exception.
Thirty EDF Energy apprentices from VT Flagship will be at the The Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport tonight, as they host a special 24-hour marathon to raise money for a decaying submarine.
The volunteers will live, eat, sleep and work on the Second World War submarine HMS Alliance, and families have the chance to come and see the crew in action from 6.30pm until 8pm.
They will be responsible for maintaining the submarine and will live on typical wartime food such as spam sandwiches. The apprentices will also re-enact real-life scenarios such as diving procedures and a first aid incident.
Bob Mealings, acting director at the Submarine Museum, says: ‘This will be a great opportunity for all to understand first-hand what it must have been like to live and work on a Second World War submarine.’
Admission is £10 for adults, £7 for children and £28 for families of up to five people.
But if you want a more hands-on night-time museum experience, the Royal Marines Museum in Southsea is hosting Under the Cover of Darkness this evening, giving families the chance to explore the museum by torchlight.
Children’s activities include Search and Rescue, saving a fallen pilot from enemy territory; IED Sweep, deactivating devices to allow your safe passage; VIP Close Escort, taking a local politician to safety; and Ambush, finding and capturing your comrades that cause trouble.
While the kids are occupied, parents get the chance to be shown around the museum’s archive in a session with one of its curators.
Clare Chapman, marketing manager of the museum, says: ‘The lights will be turned down low and it will be very dark. It is actually quite scary.
‘It is good for families in Portsmouth to come and experience a museum in an environment that they wouldn’t normally see.’
The evening runs from 6pm until 9pm, and costs £7.50 for adults and £4.95 for children.
To buy advance tickets for the Royal Navy Submarine’s evening with HMS Alliance call (023) 9251 0354.
If you prefer what the Royal Marines Museum has to offer this evening, call (023) 9281 9385.