Attention Movie Lovers: Now you too can spend a “Night at the Museum” with overnights at HMNS!

Editor’s note: This post was written by Julia Russell, HMNS Overnight Program Coordinator and Curator of Education Collections.

Movies have the power to entertain and transport us, and yes, maybe even teach us a thing or two. We laugh, we cry, we… go to museums?

Over the past decade, movies have increasingly inspired moviegoers to follow their intellectual curiosity out of the theater and into the museum. With the release of movies like Lincoln, National Treasure, Night at the Museum, and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, museums across the country have seen a fairly dramatic increase in attendance over the past 10 years.

The Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois had a 7.7% increase in visitorship following the release of Spielberg’s Oscar-winning movie Lincoln. The National Archives saw an increase of 200,000 visitors after National Treasure hit theaters in 2004. Though, I would bet that a good number of those visitors were probably trying to get ahold of the Declaration of Independence. (There’s a treasure map on the back, you know! Or maybe there’s not…) The American Museum of Natural History in New York City had a 20% increase in attendance after the release of the first Night at the Museum movie in 2006 as did the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. after the second Museum movie came out in 2009.

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These movies have reignited an interest in history, science, and culture in the American public. They’ve also resulted in museum staff hearing questions like “Okay, so when does everything in this museum come to life?” on a daily basis. Audiences across the country are leaving movie theaters wanting to know more about the political savviness of Abraham Lincoln, the secrets of the Declaration of Independence, the ferocity of Tyrannosaurus rex, and the wisdom of Theodore Roosevelt. And where are they turning for the answers? Their local museums, historic houses, aquariums, and zoos! Zoos and aquariums certainly aren’t immune to the “movie bump” that’s happening across the country. Dolphin Tale increased visitorship to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium almost tenfold after its release in 2011!

Museum goers can satisfy their movie-induced curiosity by visiting a museum to see Lincoln’s original stovetop hat or dinosaur skeletons in the flesh…well, sort of, maybe it’s more like seeing dinosaurs in the fossil. These Hollywood blockbusters have also given museums a chance to provide some unique opportunities for their visitors. Many museums across the country are letting visitors get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of their institutions after hours. Lucky for you, HMNS is one of them

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The Overnight program at HMNS actually started back in 2004 even before Ben Stiller saw the treasures at the Museum of Natural History come to life for the first time. Since the start of this program, we’ve had thousands of children and adults spend a night at the museum. This program gives people an opportunity to see one of their favorite Houston landmarks in a new light (or in a new dark, actually)!

For more information about HMNS’ Overnight program and how you and your group can see HMNS after hours, click here or email overnights@hmns.org. Maybe you can spend a night at the museum and finally answer the question, “Does everything come to life at night?” You never know, our objects could speak to you in a whole new way.

Empathy, Ethics and Bonobos: Distinguished Lecture Tonight at HMNS

Why do we have empathy? Why do we rush to another’s aid? Why do we put our arm around others to support them? 

Empathy comes naturally to a great variety of animals, including humans. In his work with monkeys, apes and elephants, anthropologist Dr. Frans de Waal has found many cases of one individual coming to another’s aid in a fight, putting an arm around a previous victim of attack, or other emotional responses to the distress of others. By studying social behavior in animals — such as bonding and alliances, expressions of consolation, conflict resolution, and a sense of fairness — de Waal demonstrates that animals and humans are preprogrammed to reach out, questioning the assumption that humans are inherently selfish.

On October 21, Dr. Frans de Waal will be at the Houston Museum of Natural Science to explore empathy’s survival value in evolution, and how it can help to build a more just society based on a more accurate view of human nature. He will suggest that religion may add to a moral society, but as an addition and way to enforce good behavior rather than as the source of good behavior.

Following the lecture at HMNS, Dr. de Waal will sign copies of his latest book, The Bonobo and the Atheist.

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Dr. Frans de Waal is a Dutch/American behavioral biologist known for his work on the social intelligence of primates. His first book, Chimpanzee Politics, compared the schmoozing and scheming of chimpanzees involved in power struggles with that of human politicians. Ever since, de Waal has drawn parallels between primate and human behavior, from peacemaking and morality to culture. His latest book is The Bonobo and the Atheist. De Waal is professor of psychology at Emory University and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a member of the (US) National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences. In 2007, he was selected by Time as one of “The Worlds’ 100 Most Influential People Today,” and in 2011 by Discover as one of the “47 All Time Great Minds of Science.”

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Ethics without God? The Evolution of Morality and Empathy in the Primates
Frans de Waal, Ph.D.
Tuesday, October 21, 6:30 p.m.
Houston Museum of Natural Science
Co-Sponsored by The Leakey FoundationClick here for tickets.

For more from Dr. Frans da Wall, check out his TED talk:

 

This week @HMNS: Making physics cool and celebrating 25 years at the George

This series is about events happening at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. For more information about HMNS, our exhibits and programming, please visit HMNS.org.

 

THURSDAY, OCT. 9
FILM SCREENING: Particle Fever 
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Imagine being able to watch Franklin received his first jolt of electricity or Edison turn on the first light bulb!

Particle Fever gives you a front row seat to our generation’s most significant and inspiring scientific breakthrough as it happens the launch of the Large Hadron Collider, the biggest and most expensive experiment in the history of the planet. 10,000 scientists from over 100 countries join forces in pursuit of a single goal: to recreate conditions that existed just moments after the Big Bang and find the Higgs boson, potentially explaining the origin of all matter. 

Join Dr. Paul Padley, one of the Rice University professors who worked on the Higgs boson discovery on the Hadron Collider, for this one-night-only event.

 

FRIDAY, OCT. 10
MEMBERS EVENT: The George Observatory 25th Anniversary Celebration
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Celebrate the George Observatory’s 25th anniversary and peer through the refurbished research telescope to see spectacular views of Saturn along with a variety of deep space objects. Cash bar and light refreshments.

 

 

Celebrate the thrill of discovery at International Archaeology Day at HMNS on Saturday, October 18

Celebrate International Archaeology Day with HMNS October 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.! Professional and avocational archaeologists from all over the greater Houston area will mark the day at HMNS by highlighting exciting discoveries in local archaeology.

The event will include artifact identification, presentations and programs about archaeological excavations in the Houston area (including Dimond Knoll, discovered along the Grand Parkway), and displays of artifacts from other local sites, including a large collection of prehistoric stone tools recovered along Buffalo Bayou and artifacts recovered from recent archaeological surveys at the San Jacinto Battlefield.  

Projectile points from Dimond Knoll site.

“We’ve been talking about putting on this event for several years and are excited that we are finally able to offer it to the public,” said Dr. August Costa of Rice University and one of the organizers of the event. “One of the highlights of the event will be our artifact identification table in the Grand Hall of the Museum, where experts will be on hand to identify items brought in by members of the public. We encourage participants to bring in their collections and learn more about what they’ve recovered.”

Dr. Gregg Dimmick and John Rich excavating at Bernardo Plantation in Hempstead.

The event will also feature a family-friendly archaeology fair with interactive hands-on displays using real artifacts recovered from archeological sites, including stone tools, prehistoric pottery, and animal bone and shell, flint knapping demonstrations, and arts and crafts for kids focusing on the prehistoric era. Attendees will receive a goody bag with handouts from participating organizations, including bookmarks, rulers, brochures and other surprises.

HAS President Linda Gorski and Lenore Psencik screen for Dimond Knoll artifacts.

HMNS docents will man the Museum touch carts from several exhibits, including the Hall of Ancient Egypt, McGovern Hall of the Americas and Human Evolution section of the Moran Hall of Paleontology.

Initiated by the American Institute of Archeology in 2011, International Archeology Day celebrates thrill of discovery. This International Archeology Day event is sponsored by HMNS, the Houston Archeological Society, Rice University Archaeology, the Texas Department of Transportation and several other local groups. Exhibits in the Grand Hall of the Museum are free of charge. Additional exhibits in Glassell Hall are free with Museum admission. 

For more information on participating in this event, contact Linda Gorski, president of the Houston Archeological Society at president@txhas.org.

Instructor Dr. Gus Costa teaches flint knapping at HMNS on October 11 and December 1. (Image Credit: Gus Costa, The Flintstone Factory)


Instructor Dr. Gus Costa teaches flint knapping at HMNS on October 11 and December 1. (Image Credit: Gus Costa, The Flintstone Factory)

As October is Texas Archaeology Month, HMNS is also hosting several archaeology lectures.   For more hands-on archaeology fun, Dr. Gus Gosta join hosting an adult flint knapping class on Saturday, October 11. For more information and to register, click here.

HMNS is also hosting these archaeology lectures in October in celebration of Texas Archaeology Month:

Houston’s Prehistoric Energy Corridor
Wednesday, October 1, 6:30 p.m.
During the planning stages for the Grand Parkway, a prehistoric site dating back 10,000 years was uncovered. Dr. Jason Barrett, TxDOT archaeologist, directed the Dimond Knoll investigation that was completed this year and has shed new light on the prehistoric heritage of Houston prior to the arrival of Europeans. Click here for tickets.
Sponsored by the Houston Archeology Society.

The World Converges in Constantinople: Contact in a Byzantine Port
Thursday, October 16, 2014, 6:30 p.m.|
Excavations of a 4th century port reveal a vibrant hub of commercial activity that brought the world to the Byzantine Empire. Not only did ships bring spectacular wealth, they also brought ideas. Marine archaeologist Dr. Ufuk Kocabas of Istanbul University will explain what has been uncovered at the ancient Harbor of Theodosius. Click here for tickets. 
Cosponsored by Archaeological Institute of America, Houston Society.

Camp Logan, a WWI Emergency Training Center in Houston
Louis Aulbach and Linda Gorski, Archaeologists
Tuesday, November 4, 2014, 6:30 p.m.
Camp Logan, a military training base built in 1917, housed 44,000 soldiers in what is now Houston’s Memorial Park. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WWI, Louis Aulbach and Linda Gorski will present the archaeological work at the site and pay tribute to the soldiers who trained at Camp Logan. Click here for tickets.
Sponsored by the Houston Archeology Society.

Click here for a list of all of our upcoming lectures.

Related blogs:
The HMNS School of Rock: Cracking Caveman Crafts in the Classroom

Do you dig historic Houston? TxDOT and Join the Houston Archeology Society August 17! Click here for more information.