Go With a Purpose.
A blog about connecting through places that matter.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pursue Your Passion for Learning: Experience a “Real” Night at the Museum

Ben Stiller’s blockbuster film, "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian," is all the rage. And museums across the country are further capturing the nation’s attention with their own impressive versions of “night at the museum events.”

From spending the night in a castle to sleeping with the dinosaurs to science-based sleepovers that will have you and your family armed with flashlights in search of adventure, the unique variety of experiences will help fulfill your passion for learning and create lasting memories for kids of all ages.

The following are just some of the “night at the museum” events nationwide. To find “night at the museum” events in your area, check with your local museums or search Google for “night at the museum events” in your city.

Explore hidden treasures! The American Museum of Natural History in New York City continues its popular "A Night at the Museum” adventure experience, offering new and exciting updates for the current season. Armed with flashlights in search of adventure, visitors can travel like a paleontologist on an expedition while watching the “Dinosaurs Alive!” in the IMAX theater, explore live-animal exhibitions with museum guides, and participate in challenging Museum Quests. You will then drift into dream in the darkened halls of one of the world's most famous museums. Visit the museum online for more information.

Spend the night in a castle! The Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts, is a great choice for school, church, Scout and other youth groups or clubs who are looking for a unique experience at the Northeast’s only museum that’s entirely devoted to the study and display of arms and armor. Travel back in time to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance as your group enjoys an educational immersion that focuses on chivalry, heraldry and the history of knights in shining armor. Highlights include: trying on pieces of armor and equipment, a scavenger-hunt quest for the “Elements of the Chivalric Code,” and a knighting ceremony. Learn more about the program on the museum’s Web site.

When one night at the museum isn’t enough, head to the Science Museum of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, where monthly public Bright Nights events will appeal to kids of all ages and interests. Families and school, club, church and other youth groups can participate in these scientific hands-on and fun-filled overnight adventures. Explore the many mysteries and magic of science during the Bright Night of Science. Climb aboard the Hogwarts Express train during the museum’s Bright Night of Harry Potter. Embark on a spine-tingling adventure and explore all things gooey, spooky and hair-raising during the Bright Night of Not-So-Frightening Fun. If you enjoy tracking down evidence and uncovering the science behind crime scene investigations, join the fun of Bright Night CSI: Museum Style. Visit the museum online for more information.

Experience firsthand the submarine lifestyle in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. If you have ever wondered what it would be like to sleep on a submarine, the Wisconsin Maritime Museum’s Family Overnight program is for you! Spend the night aboard the USS Cobia, the nation’s most fully restored World War II sub. This unique family experience offers not only an educational alternative to the traditional campout, but facilitates an appreciation of history and insight into a unique time in America's past. Not sure you want to sleep on a submarine? Sign up for the Nautical Night at the Museum program instead. This brand new program includes gallery activities, crafts, a submarine tour, flashlight gallery tour, and a movie. Visit the museum’s Web site for details.

If you are planning a trip to Washington, D.C., this summer, check out the dates for the Smithsonian Sleepovers, where you can experience the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History at night. After viewing a special screening of the feature length film “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” at the Johnson IMAX Theater, you will search the museum for the highlights from the film and end your night in the darkened halls of one of the world's most famous museums — sleeping among the dinosaurs, mammals and the giant squid. Visit the Smithsonian’s Web site for details.

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in California also has several overnight adventures for groups of 10 or more. Enjoy action-packed adventure as a junior paleontologist and learn all about dinosaurs at Camp Dino; experience what it is like to be an archeologist and participate in a mock dig at Camp Archeology; or jump into a time machine in search of the earth’s treasures at Camp Earth Quest. These are just a few of the overnight programs. For more information please visit the museum Web site.

Who can resist a night Dozin’ With the Dinos at Chicago’s Field Museum? Join Susie T. Rex for a night of family workshops, tours and performances, and then spread your sleeping bag next to some of the most popular exhibitions. New for 2009, you can sign up for one of two new packages. One lets you sleep under the stars in the Evolving Planet exhibition. Another lets you sleep under the stars and get a behind-the-scenes tour with a Field Museum scientist! Visit the museum online for more information.

Have you and your family experienced a “night at the museum?” Share your adventures in the comments section below.

photo credit: American Museum of Natural History Kids Sleepovers Photo © AMNH/D. Finnin

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