Have you ever imagined sleeping beneath a Brontosaurus or waking up to see a T-Rex looming overhead (well maybe not with all those teeth)…Or maybe greeting the morning sun with one eye squinting at a Lynx? Well, now you can!
Last weekend I had a mad adventure with a group of friends doing something I probably never thought of doing, and while not strictly “Eco”, this overnight event is a natural history education not to be missed!
Thanks to the ingenious directors of the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, who had the wild idea of bringing people even further into the museum’s fold by creating a uniquely quirky Night at the Museum Adult Sleepover Party, you can now spend a night in one of their many natural habitat rooms. Yes, we’re talking bring your air mattresses and sleeping bags, your earplugs and favorite PJ’s…and by all means your favorite group of friends…for a fun overnight party that includes a variety of activities, as well as food and drink.
The evening started with a complimentary entry to the museum’s Summer Nights in the Gardens with fun music, dancing, food trucks, garden-inspired cocktails, botanical tours and hands-on garden and science projects. That part of the earlier evening was a family event and our Adult group had a chance to meet up, sip a cocktail or two and then head indoors with the other NHM All-Nighter for the real “cool nerd” experience. Our group had opted to upgrade our adventure for an extra $10, to sleep in the dinosaur room. Well worth the extra $10, if you are a dinosaur fan like we are.
I don’t think any of our group quite knew what to expect when we were ushered into the main North American exhibit room and offered complimentary wine and beer before the “lecture began”. As I looked around the room at the staff dressed in Dino PJ’s, wild animal print rompers and lizard head costumes, I could help thinking what fun they must have had putting this event together…Especially the scientific presentation that Dr. James Dines launched into with a twinkle in his eye. I won’t spoil the fun by telling you more, just know it was definitely an “adult” theme and one that had us rolling on the floors with laughter (literally, as I feel off my chair in a fit of giggles)!
Next up was the “Activities” segment of the evening. OK, I am not in general much of a game or scavenger hunt fan, but these were totally FUN! We started with the scavenger hunt in the Dinosaur area…not you usual kind of scavenger hunt, but the NHM staff did a bang of job of making this an entertaining, fast paced group competition.
No more said or I would have to add a spoiler alert. As the evening progressed we were treated to a theme-based game of group charades (how my partners actually got “Brontasuarus” from my lame gestures is a total mystery), and a special behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum’s mammology collection. And topping off the activities portion of the adventure was a well delivered guided ghost tour of the museum. Of course, if I share the stories it might spoil it for you, but let’s just say (and a bit of a spoiler alert here) that one of those “true” stories had a LOT of blood involved. This is one you won’t want to miss!
As you can imagine, by this time we had all worked up a late night muchies attach and were ready for some serious thirst quenching. Thank heavens the staff had thought of everything and we were treated to a sandwich & salad bar, and craft beer provided by Angel City Brewery, along with a selection of wine and bottles of water. And of course, they knew after our late night snack we’d hardly be ready for bed, so onward we went to the natural history themed movie screening of “Relic”. BY then we were ready for our nightclothes, and once we’d donned our pajamas, blown up our air mattresses and brushed our teeth, we headed upstairs to find a quiet corner to play a game of Exploding Kittens (ok, not provided…that one you have to bring in yourself). Our noisy neighbors in the next room were engaged in a rather rowdy game of Twister and elsewhere the giggles echoed through the halls. That is until the guard came and gave us the SHHHH lecture — “Hey wait a minute, that was the twister people, not us!”
As the witching hour passed and exploding kittens came to a dynamite end (sorry, bad pun), we headed down to our Dino sleeping quarters and our picture frame windows view of the grounds outside. One suggestion…bring warm sleeping bags and clothes, the Dino room is a bit chill. And a bit light as well. If you opt for sleeping with the dinosaurs, you want to make your camp in the first room, the second one in the back has lights that stay on all night. Bring eye shades as well, would be the suggestion of us all. I can’t say I really did much sleeping that night, but then who cares about sleep when you’re on an adventure? I did think maybe there was something a bit peculiar and spooky about the loud wheezing sound that woke me up, but then I realized it was just someone snoring…not the echoes of past monsters that roamed the Earth.
I confess that I thought the sunlight would be the first thing to wake me up, but the morning alarm clock was delivered by the voices of the janitorial staff at 7:30am. If you are looking forward to a morning lie-in, you won’t find it here. But, it was a gentle, if a little odd, way to wake up early enough to go and enjoy the hot breakfast they also served (for an supplemental fee), then pack up your “camp” and roll out into the Los Angeles morning sun. All in all a night to remember, and one I know still makes me smile when I think about looking up at all of those T-Rex teeth and my friends at first light.
Apparently, according to Desiree Ocampo (the Director, Special Events and Filming at the Natural history Museum) after a wonderful conversation with her, this was the first overnight in the series, but was so successful that it is poised to become a favored event. You TOO can now experience it yourself, though you DO have to be over 21. The museum event staff will be presenting a few more Adults-Only sleepover events this year. The dates are — August 21 (sadly sold-out), October 31, and November 20. However, they also have several Family fun sleepovers as well, so if you want the family version, you can check out these dates — August 28, September 25, and there are several more on the schedule including:
Your family can enjoy the wonder and beauty of live free-flying butterflies at this insect-filled overnight! Participants will make a butterfly craft and learn more about the largest class of organisms on the planet! This includes a tour of the Butterfly Pavilion the next morning as well.
Aug 28-29, 2015 for Girls only
At this action-packed NHM overnight, your group will be Junior Paleontologists, learning all about dinosaurs! Participants will also participate in a fun-filled scavenger hunt and make their own take home craft!
Dates include: September 25-26, 2015 for Boys and Girls
October 9-10, 2015 for Boys and Girls
November 7-8, and November 21-22, 2015 for Boys and Girls
You and your group will learn about insects and arachnids in this thrilling Overnight that brings you face to face with the spiders in the Spider Pavilion!
September 19-20, 2015 for Boys and Girls
Join us while we unwrap the secrets of NHM’s new traveling exhibit Mummies: New Secrets from the Tombs
October 16-17, 2015 for Boys and Girls
November 6-7, 2015 for Boys and Girls
December 12-13, 2015 for Boys and Girls
For more information, visit www.nhm.org/overnights.
In the words of the NHM’s Director Ocampo,“We had a fantastic time crafting the program, from working with Dr. James Dines, developing the scientific presentation topics, to planning the scavenger hunt. It was a wonderful unparalleled experience!”
And one I highly recommend enjoying while you still can. It’s a Jurassically fun experience!