Guest Post by Mary Ann Alderfer of Daily Vacationer
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is always an amazing place to visit, so participating in their “Night in the Museum” experience was just as awesome as we expected. The overnight was well organized and all of the museum staff members were friendly and informed. Put that together with the Academy’s one-of-a-kind exhibits and you’ve got a winning combination!
We knew right from the beginning that this would be a great experience. A helpful packet of information was emailed out well before the overnight, letting us know what to bring and what to expect.
When we arrived at the museum, check-in was quick and easy. A staff member gave the adults in our group colored wristbands, and we brought our overnight equipment to our color’s assigned area. Overnight equipment in each area was stored against the wall so that it would be out of the way while we were exploring the museum.
We were thrilled to be assigned to dinosaur hall and enjoyed checking out the exhibits in that area while we waited for orientation to begin.
Everyone headed to the auditorium at 7:00pm for a brief but informative orientation. Soon we had all the information we needed about the rules and expectations, as well as the exciting evening we had to look forward to! The presenter was energetic and funny and held everyone’s attention.
After orientation, we opted to head up to the top floor of the museum to avoid the larger groups that began their exploring on the main floor right outside the auditorium. We practically had the Inside-Out area to ourselves, and enjoyed petting a friendly box turtle and seeing what the museum creatures were up to after hours.
As we made our way through the museum, we found quite a few special activities set up on each floor. Here were some highlights:
-Decorating sleep masks so that the museum’s emergency lights wouldn’t keep us awake.
-Covering shark teeth in tinfoil and plaster, just like paleontologists do when transporting real dinosaur bones.
-Using special markers to put our own mark on the glass in front of several diorama’s in the North American Mammal hall.
-Talking with some dinosaur experts about their table full of replica bones.
-A flashlight scavenger hunt in Dinosaur Hall.
We made sure to head down to the Commons for a snack (pretzels and apples) at 8:15 p.m., and we toured the fantastic Dinosaurs Unearthed exhibit before it closed at 9:00 p.m. (a special exhibit – now moved on to make room for Frogs: A Chorus of Colors). Then we watched a squid dissection, and learned all about the different parts of the squid – the braver members of our party even touched them!
Plus, we brought home cards with our names written on them in ink directly from the squid! At 10:00 p.m., everyone headed back to the auditorium for the Live Animal Show. The kids were impressed by the large eastern rattlesnake and the rescued hawk, and the adults were impressed by the well-informed and articulate speaker.
When the presentation ended, we were reminded about where to set up our sleeping bags, and then we were dismissed to lay out our gear. Although we sat closer to the back of the auditorium to have the prime pick of where to lay our things out, we shouldn’t have worried. There was plenty of room for everyone! (Note that the area directly around the T. rex is reserved for VIP guests.)
After getting ready for bed, we headed back to the auditorium one more time for a half-hour movie about dinosaurs. By 11:30 p.m., everyone was tired out from all our adventures, and we crawled in to our sleeping bags, just in front of the Triceratops skeleton. We guess you could say we slept with visions of dinosaurs dancing in our heads!
A friendly voice over the loudspeaker woke us up at 7:00 a.m., and we all headed downstairs for a breakfast of cereal and bagels (and coffee for the adults!). We packed our things up so they wouldn’t be in anyone’s way, and after breakfast we had the opportunity to go through Butterflies!, which had been closed the night before.
Overnight guests were invited to stay for as much of the day as they desired. They even had special t-shirts and patches for sale for the overnight guests. Our “Night in the Museum” was both wonderful and memorable, and we highly recommend this unique experience at the always amazing Academy of Natural Sciences!
The Academy hosts “Night in the Museum” throughout the year. This special overnight is a great time for families as well as groups for scout trips, birthdays, sports teams, and kids’ clubs. For upcoming dates, ticket prices (take note of the benefits of the VIP ticket!), and more information on other museum programs, head to www.ansp.org.