Adventures in Science, Arts and Technology at Culture Night

What does your typical Friday night look like? Does it usually involve spinning Doodlebots, sound-sensitive thunder clouds, and LED lights that shine brightly when called to attention? If this sounds like your cup of tea, then read on as we take you on a tour of Ireland’s annual Culture Night, which took place this year on September 16th.

With over 100 venues taking part and a staggering 200 free events available to attend, crowds at this year’s Culture Night were spoiled for choice. A perfect blend of free science, arts and local cultural events, the action started in Dublin at the Makeshop.

Maker Workshops and Doodlebots

A popular spot with families and tech fans, the Makeshop opened their doors on the night with free Doodlebot workshops and making demonstrations for members of the public. With a colourful array of tools and materials, visitors got the chance to see a 3D Printer in motion and the Makeshop’s resident mini-bots spring into action.

A colourful and accessible evening for young tech fans, Makeshop’s Ash explains: “We’re showing some light-hearted hacks and made objects. They are demonstrations of items that we put together and some of the items made here. We have our clap-sensitive thunder clouds, which are re-purposed sound metres that we’ve changed the colours of LEDs in.”

A favourite with the young visitors in attendance, the Doodlebot attracted a chorus of appreciation as it went to work creating colourful pictures.

Ash adds: “The Doodlebot has a battery pack and a motor. At the end of the motor, we do something engineers don’t usually do.  We make it unbalanced so that the vibrations translate down the legs of the bot and it travels around the surface.”

How do Humans and Robots View Images?

Elsewhere, science fans headed to the nearby Science Gallery in Trinity College, where their current exhibition Seeing was open to visitors for an extended time on the night. An intriguing show, Seeing invites visitors to consider the difference between human and machine sight – and the different ways our brains interpret images.

With an interactive selection of work on display, Niamh O’Doherty of the Science Gallery says: “Seeing is about how human sight works and how it differs from artificial robot and machine sight. Culture Night is usually one of our most popular nights of the year, so it’s great to see so many people come in and enjoy it.”

As the name suggests, Culture Night is also packed full of free arts and culture events as well as science and tech-focused exhibitions. With a host of open-air performances taking place in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick, and around the country, dance fans in Dublin were treated to a daring display of acrobatics in Meeting House Square from Aerial Cirque and John Scott Dance. While in Cork, visitors to the Old Yacht Club in Cobh enjoyed a rousing performance from the talented quartet behind This Is How We Fly.

Architectural delights were also on display across the country, with notable buildings opening their doors to visitors. In Dublin, fans of art history were in luck, with Iveagh House, Freemasons’ Hall and a walking tour of Mountjoy Square just some of the highlights.

On South Leinster Street, Number Five also opened its doors to visitors. Home to the Friends of the National Gallery, the house has recently been restored to its original splendour and lucky visitors got to sample some of its colourful history on the night. An impressive building, Laura Buckley of the Friends of the National Gallery Society revealed some of the inspiration for Number Five’s collection of decorative plaster-work. She says: “One of the most prominent former owners was an interior design company in the late 1880s and you could come in and pick one of the decorative samples for your own country house. That’s why there is some odd plaster work downstairs that doesn’t fit in. It was used as a showcase for clients.”

“All of the paintings are from the gallery’s collection and some additional items are from Russbourogh House, like the set of mirrors which date from the 1700s. They’re Irish-made, which we know because of the chunkiness of the work on the frame.”

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