About Nancy

Nancy came to HMNS in 2006. As the Promotions Manager, she is responsible for developing and executing museum events such as VIP Nites, Big Bite Nite, Snow Flurry and more. Additionally she partners with local businesses and organizations to cross-promote or sponsor these events. Her interests include traveling, fashion, indie music, and her dog, Wyatt.

Is that an Art Car? My stormy day with Sean Casey, tornado chaser

No, it wasn’t an art car that was parked outside the Houston Museum of Natural Science this week. It was a TIV, or “Tornado Intercept Vehicle,” for those not in the know.

Nancy_TIV_March 2012

I arrived early Monday morning to prep for a special day at the Museum with filmmaker and storm chaser Sean Casey (who you might recognize from the Discovery Channel’s Storm Chasers series).

I knew the TIV was going to be pretty sweet, but I had no idea how impressive it was going to be in person. Once upon a time, Casey’s TIV was just a Dodge 3500, but there are only a few indicators that it was ever a mere pickup truck.

Designed and welded by Casey, the TIV looks like something right out of the sci-fi post-apocalyptic film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. The TIV’s cab is covered in armor 2 inches thick, complete with aluminum panels powered by hydraulic pistons that can be lowered almost to the ground to prevent wind from going underneath the vehicle. One of my favorite features is the 40-inch spikes on the sides of the TIV that can be activated to anchor the vehicle to the ground.  These features and more make the TIV ready and able to capture amazing tornado footage (along with look pretty spiffy in our makeshift Museum driveway).

By 9:30 AM, Casey had arrived and opened the bullet-resistant front windows to give fans a better view of the interior of his storm-proof ride. Eager fans arrived early to meet Casey, ask him questions, get autographs and pose with him for photos. Based on the smiles, nervousness, and excitement I saw, his fans weren’t disappointed.  Many mentioned that it was an honor to meet him and said that he was living their dream. Chasing twisters instead of typing? Get out.

Nancy_TIV_March 2012

But Casey seemed just as excited as his fans. He was accessible, easy-going and happy to meet everyone. I overheard all sorts of comments and questions for Casey, but the two most common questions I heard were: How much does the TIV weigh? and What kind of gas mileage does the TIV get?

Answers: 14,500 pounds and 10 miles per gallon.  Casey also introduced all-new showings of his newest film Tornado Alley, now playing at the Wortham Giant Screen Theatre at HMNS.  His introduction included anecdotes about his early days of storm chasing from a rental minivan to getting pulled over by the police (50 percent of the time in Texas) to the eight years it took to make his latest film.

The highlight for me was watching two lucky contest winners go for a ride in the TIV at the end of the day. After a long day outside with heavy fog in the morning and sunshine and high humidity in the afternoon, I thought of my own question for Casey: Does the TIV have air conditioning? Answer: No. Regardless, our contest winners had a fabulous excursion through the museum district impressing all the spring break traffic with Casey and the TIV.

Casey is about more than tornado chasing, though. I learned two more fun facts about the Discovery Channel star: First, he likes to eat at Chipotle and has gotten quite lost following freeways signs in search of a good burrito. Second, he really enjoys metal detecting with his oldest daughter, so he was drooling over the Ausrox Gold Nugget, which weighs about 748 troy ounces and is now on display for a limited time inside the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals.

While it was an extraordinary opportunity to spend the day with Casey and the TIV, it was also another day in the life of a Houston Museum of Natural Science employee.

Enter the “Take a Ride on the Wild Side!” Sweepstakes

Houston is no stranger to severe weather.

Thunderstorm in Northern Oklahoma

Within the past few months we’ve experienced both a drought and flooding.  Hurricanes and ice storms have shut the city down for days. Most residents have a story about witnessing extreme weather conditions, from hurricanes to tornadoes, but never quite like this…

Tornado Alley 3D opens March 9 in the Wortham Giant Screen Theatre!

Ride along with filmmaker Sean Casey of the Discovery Channel’s Storm Chasers series and researchers of VORTEX 2 as they bravely capture dramatic and destructive tornado footage in this fascinating film.

Casey uses a fleet of customized vehicles that can withstand the most threatening weather  – allowing them to go right to the heart of a tornado and even document the birth of a tornado with a 70mm camera.

Tornado Intercept Vehicle

On March 12, you can meet Casey and his Tornado Intercept Vehicle!

From 9:30 – 11 am, the TIV will be parked at the front entrance of the Houston Museum of Natural Science and Casey will be available to meet visitors.  While you’re here, check out Tornado Alley 3D  – showing at 11:40 am, 12:30, 3, and 3:50 pm – Casey will  introduce each film.

Want To Ride in the TIV?

Enter to win a ride with Casey in the Tornado Intercept Vehicle at approximately 4 pm on March 12!

To enter, tell us about your strangest weather experience, your favorite episode of Storm Chasers, or your thoughts on Houston’s weather – just leave a comment on this post between February 23 and March 8!

The winner will be selected randomly and contacted on March 9, 2012.  For official contest rules, please click here.

The winner will be contacted by email – so don’t forget to leave that information in the comment entry field – don’t worry, your email will be kept confidential.

Special Events – Finding that perfect color for your event

As member of the Special Events team at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, I have recently returned from a very informative and inspirational visit to Phoenix, Arizona for The Special Events conference.  Special Events industry professionals from around the world attended.  As a participant, I participated in all sorts of educational sessions such as Wrap Up the Room With Décor, Four Parties and a Budget, and Creating Opulent Indian Weddings Inspired by the Raj Dynasty.

My favorite session was Color Trends and Inspiration From the Tried and True to the Imagination and Beyond hosted by the Carbotti family.  The presenters emphasized several trends and tips.

Trends for event décor included mixing vintage or antique furniture with modern pieces.  Also, they recommended creating a residential level of comfort at the event which encourages guests to stay longer.

Another trend they mentioned is the use of mirrors for a tabletop.  It’s a great look and reflects the table setting along with the room’s colors.  For a new twist, try using really long tables for dining instead of the usual rounds.  It adds a whole new dimension to the appearance of the space.

They also spoke extensively on the use of color for events.  Some of their ideas included a monochromatic palette with a pop of color, using ambers and reds to compliment candle light, the use of white on white for a luxurious feel, and using lighting that changes throughout the evening to affect the mood or vibe as the night progresses.  Additionally they spotlighted the 2011 PANTONE color of the year, Honeysuckle.  For examples of these trends and more, check out the Perfect Surroundings, Inc. photo gallery here.

So how do you decide on your color palette?

The presenters offered some great resources to make that very important decision.  People are paid a lot of money to come up with color palettes for fashion and merchandise.  That’s the first place you should look for inspiration.  Look at magazine covers, commercials and advertisements, car colors.  You will see all sorts of great color combinations that you probably never thought of.

Another great resource is coulorlovers.com.  This website has the latest color trends and palettes.  Also, check out designscene.net for the latest ad campaigns, magazine covers and more.  Right away you will see the hottest color combinations that can be translated to your event. Lastly, look at paint company websites such as Sherwin Williams.  They also have fabulous color resources.  And of course, they have an app that lets you take a photo of something and find the color match for it right from your phone.

Sharon Nicole Chin

The Houston Museum of Natural Science is the perfect canvas for your next event.  I’ll be happy to help you take these tips and trends and apply them to create a stunning, unique, and memorable event.