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The British Museum comes to life in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Date posted: 17.12.2014

It seems that everyone is in London these days, from World War II hero Alan Turing in The Imitation Game to Marvel's unlikely superhero team in Guardians of the Galaxy. And who's the latest to grace our fair city? His name is Larry.

In Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb – the third and final installment in the delightful Night at the Museum franchise - Ben Stiller returns as Larry, the night watchman who has discovered what so many museum visitors secretly suspect: museum displays come alive at night.

Following adventures in New York City's American Museum of Natural History and Washington D.C.'s Smithsonian Institute in the two previous films, Larry leaves America for the first time to explore London's celebrated British Museum.

On a quest to restore magic to an Ancient Egyptian tablet, Larry reunites with old historic friends including Theodore Roosevelt (Robin Williams) and Jedadiah (Owen Wilson), while making new ones in Sir Lancelot (Dan Stevens) and powerful pharaoh Merenkahre (Ben Kingsley).

Audiences around the world can see the British Museum's secret night life from Friday, when Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb opens in cinemas.

Night at the British Museum

"The British Museum is a large organisation which opens its doors to the public every single day of the year except Christmas," explains the film's Location Manager Michael Harm. "To work out a three day shoot around the public as well as the many internal projects and outside corporate events [...] was hugely complex."

To ensure a safe and organised shoot, Night at the Museum shot - quite literally - at night! From closing time until 7am during the three day shoot, the film crew of 200 captured the museum with large scale kit including a 40 tonne crane and helium balloon lights too large to fit through the front doors when fully inflated. In addition to the kit, the Museum also had to accommodate live horses and the capuchin monkey, Crystal, who plays an integral role in the film.

As it turns out, the British Museum really does come alive at night. In addition to completing internal projects and hosting events, the museum facilitates about 50 commercial film crews every year.

Although much was shot in the British Museum, a three day shoot is not enough to complete a feature length film. "The remainder of the British Museum scenes were shot over three months on a specially built set in Vancouver, Canada," says Sian Toogood from the British Museum. "Given some of the dramatic and explosive chase and fight scenes, these scenes could never have been filmed on the actual premises."

the cast of Night at the Museum 3 in The British Museum

A success all around

Although filming a Hollywood blockbuster in a 18th century Grade I listed building is no easy feat and requires a high level of sensitivity from all parties involved, both the Museum and the film shoot had nothing but enthusiastic and positive words for the experience - a reminder of how rewarding a perfect pairing of film and location can be.

"The film liaising team at the British Museum were simply fantastic in their understanding of the production's enormous wish list and in being able to help in seeking workable solutions within their complex organisation," lauded Harm.

"In our mind's eye I think we have all seen a winged bull fly or these Greek sculptures walk, and we now have the opportunity to see them on the silver screen," enthuses Toogood. "I personally have been delighted and proud to have been part of this new chapter in the Museum's film history."

Enter for a chance to win your own night at the museum with the British Museum's new interactive microsite

Inspired? Find out about filming in London

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