Promising an unapologetically indulgent evening, the Fitzwilliam Museum seduced a staggering 1270 students into its sumptuous halls with the promise of not only free rosé champagne, but equally accessible art. Mostly student-run, the night aimed to establish the museum as an attractive alternative to those hedonistic (and often regrettable) evenings spent in the local clubs, by dispelling the myth that art is essentially esoteric.
Despite these being the well-publicised ambitions of the evening, the night did somewhat oddly begin with a members-only champagne reception, accompanied by opera and noticeably dominated by art historians. However, the copious activities scattered throughout the night left all attendees truly spoilt for choice, with a variety of insightful introductions to a diverse spectrum of interests. Most notable was the illuminating talk given by the director Tim Knox on death and martyrdom in the Italian Gallery, as well as series of discussions in the antiquity section which beautifully showcased the often-overlooked treasures on the ground floor.
The enthusiastic way in which the event encouraged attendees to interact with the art and respond with their own creations (such as life-drawings of ‘real’ people and cheesy Valentine’s Day card-making) exemplified the creator’s careful efforts to present the museum as a place of enlivened reflection, rather than a building to facilitate self-conscious head-bobbing.
The event certainly did give the museum an approachable yet edgy, modern vibe; with DJs located in the basement all evening, ensuring the night did not descend into a silent mass of confused, bored and intimidated students.