The bold and the beautiful: Glitz and glam galore adorn HMNS at the Bulgari gala

Traveling from all over the globe, top Bulgari executives joined local Museum and jewelry enthusiasts for a night celebrating gorgeous gems in our dazzling city – the opening gala for Bulgari: 130 Years of Masterpieces at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. 

The night began in the 3rd floor exhibition space (now open to the public; click here for tickets), featuring 150 pieces of sparkling Bulgari necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and minaudière, including precious pieces from the Elizabeth Taylor Heritage Collection.  J. Ben Bourgeois Productions transformed Herzstein Hall into in a graceful garden space with scenes of the Spanish Steps, floral chandeliers, and elegant candlelight. City Kitchen Catering pleased the palate with a three-course dinner, featuring jumbo lump crab meat, saddle of lamb, and mascarpone strawberries. In an ethereal ivory floral headpiece, Elizaveta (you may recognize her from this Scandal promo) led a trio for a set that perfectly complemented the romantic elegance of the evening. 

The chairman of the evening, Windi Grimes, joined President Joel Bartsch in welcoming guests and introducing Nicola Bulgari and Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of Bulgari.  Ever the belle of the ball, Grimes thrilled guests with her own surprise touch – DiVine, a “living vine” that gracefully moved throughout the exhibition and dinner space. It was the cherry on top of the awe-inspiring evening.  

Photography by Priscilla Dickson.

Joel Bartsch and Naomi Watts

Joel Bartsch and Naomi Watts.

 

 

Joanne King Herring and Nathalie Diamantis, Bulgari VP of Retail and Wholesale

Joanne King Herring and Bulgari Vice President of Retail and Wholesale Nathalie Diamantis.

  

DiVine, Monsour Taghdisi and Henry Richardson

DiVine, Monsour Taghdisi and Henry Richardson.

 

Anne Shepherd and Carson Seeligson

Anne Shepherd and Carson Seeligson.

 

Pat Breen and Lynn Wyatt

Pat Breen and Lynn Wyatt.

 

Jana and Scotty Arnoldy, Karol Barnhart, and Laurie Morian

Jana and Scotty Arnoldy, Karol Barnhart, and Laurie Morian,

Sam and Melinda Stubbs, Sharyn and Jim Weaver

Sam and Melinda Stubbs, Sharyn and Jim Weaver.

 

Sabina Belli, Bulgari Managing Director, and Naomi Watts

Bulgari Managing Director Sabina Belli and Naomi Watts.

 

Greggory and Patrick Burk, HMNS Chairman of the Board

Greggory Burk and HMNS Chairman of the Board Patrick Burk.

 

Ashley Menzies and Claire Thielke

Ashley Menzies and Claire Thielke.

 

Event Chairman Windi Grimes and Joel Bartsch, HMNS President

Event Chairman Windi Grimes and HMNS President Joel Bartsch.

Just Another Day at the Office

Working in the museum’s permanent collections I focus on artifacts and specimens – after all, that’s my job.  But it’s not just the artifacts and specimens that tell a story around here.  It’s the people too.  Behind all the exhibits and public areas are many folks hard at work to make science and this museum relevant and memorable to you.

Lately, thanks to a recent staff luncheon given by the HMNS Guild and some quick conversations in the halls, I’ve been able to get caught up with my colleagues to find out what they doing behind the scenes.

In my own home department of Collections, Dr. Dirk Van Tuerenhout recently gave a lecture on the Birth of Christianity exhibit in the IMAX. (You can read blog posts by Dirk here.)

Dr. Dan Brooks just co-authored an article on the birds of the Pongos Basin in the Peruvian Andes, published in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology. (You can read blog posts by Dan here.)  Several HMNS specimens were cited in the article, which is very cool.  (Plus, I learned what a pongo is.  Look it up for yourself and impress your friends and neighbors.)

The anthropology section in collections storage has been organized and practically transformed by Beth.  She has ensured that all those wondrous artifacts are properly labeled, stored, and easily located.  You have no idea how much work this entailed!  Imagine having all of your stuff from attic to basement labeled and neatly put away – with a color-coded key map.  Truly, my cold registrar’s heart is warmed and I get a little misty-eyed just thinking about it.

Anytime you get an in-house phone call that begins with, “I hate to bother you but” you know that intro is going to end with “do you know where David Temple is?”.  And I do know for certain that he’s been up in Seymour working on the museum’s ongoing dino dig with Dr. Bakker (read his posts here).  I doubled-checked with his wife Nicole.

When I climb upstairs to run some mail through the meter I notice it’s pretty calm in the Admin offices.  I think they’ve all finally rested up from last week’s very successful fundraising gala.  Poking my head into Kat’s office for a quick chat I found out that the education department is immersed in HMNS overnights, teachers’ workshops, and getting prepared for a full summer of a multitude of classes.  Don’t forget to register your kids pronto, those classes fill up fast.

Next, I quickly check on lunch plans with Tammy, manager of the museum’s mineral and fossil shop, who’s busy with all sorts of new specimens and arranging them in the cases.  She also provided her expertise at the gala’s mineral and fossil auction.  Passing by the museum’s visitor services desk I stop briefly to see if I have any mail.  It’s been a really busy day, probably due to the start of spring break, and Martha’s expression says it all.

There are some odds-and-ends photographs I need to drop off to the Volunteer Office, an always-upbeat place.  They’re happy to have found good homes for all the beardies but were so bereft without them, they bought one at the gala.  He’s been aptly named Ka-ching.

Lynn tells me the volunteers are eagerly studying up on the coming exhibits of The Nature of Diamonds and Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China’s First Emperor. Karen’s in the midst of interviewing Ecoteen applicants and Araceli’s booking birthday parties.  Sybil was surrounded by volunteers so I’ll catch up with her later.

I actually don’t need anything from the exhibits guys, I’m just curious to see what they’re working on.  Today they are preparing one of our exhibit halls for the upcoming Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit. Mike and Glen are repairing some walls and ceiling tiles.  Soon they’ll be full bore into construction and layout.  Preston and Lex pour over exhibit floor plans.

The last colleague I touch base with is Christine, our live animal program manager.  She’s been out to a school with our Wildlife on Wheels program, sounds like the first-graders were adorable.  Next she demonstrates the Blue-footed Booby bird dance.  We both crack up.   I head back to the relative quiet of Collections knowing that even though I only spoke to a small portion of the staff, and not at any great length, this museum, along with its artifacts and specimens, is in excellent hands.

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Museum closed March 7: It’s Gala Time

The museum is closed tomorrow, Saturday March 7. We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause. However, the museum will be preparing all day for its biggest party of the year, to be held that night – our annual Gala. This event helps fund the museum so that everyone can enjoy our exhibits, lectures, and science classes for the other 364 days a year.

This year’s gala is calledThe Wrecking Ball, because in addition to funding our standard educational programs and operations, proceeds will also go to support the Museum’s Capital Campaign – HMNS@100: Building For A Second Century of Science.  The funds raised will enable to museum to expand our education and exhibition spaces to accommodate both our swelling numbers of visitors and the community’s escalating interest in thought-provoking exhibitions and informative educational programs.

If you would like to hlp support the future of science education, please consider a donation to the museum – for more information, or to donate online, simply click here.