Never a Dull Moment

chain-mail-armor-resize
A coat of chain mail armor from
the Genghis Khan exhibt now on
display at HMNS. Find out more
here

As the Houston Museum of Natural Science prepares to show the sequel to the hugely popular Night at the Museum, I could not help but think how interesting a “day at the museum” sometimes can be as well. I am not just talking about the different exhibits we currently have at the museum, but also what is going on at the museum behind the scenes.

I have often thought that one of the taglines associated with the museum should be “never a dull moment.” Here is why I think that would be particularly appropriate: consider Tuesday, February 24, 2009. On that day, a crew of museum people as well as representatives from museums in Mongolia and Russia were busy putting the final touches to the Genghis Khan exhibit. That day, we also received the Mongolian ambassador to the US, H.E. Ambassador Khasbazaryn Bekhbat, who was traveling to Houston for the formal opening of the exhibit two days later. Accompanying him was the second secretary of the Mongolian embassy, Dawadash Sambuu. In the weeks leading up to the opening of the exhibit, he had been very busy working in Houston, helping with the set up of the show. Representing the Hermitage Museum, Dr. Mikhail Piotrovsky, flew in from St. Petersburg, Russia that day as well.

darwinAlso on February 24, the museum hosted a lecture as part of the year-long Darwin celebrations. Joining us that day was Dr. Francisco Ayala.  He came in to talk about his research into evolution. Dr. Ayala, a recipient of the National Medal of Science, recently published a book on this subject, entitled Darwin’s gift to science and religion. In a well-attended lecture in the museum’s IMAX movie theater, Dr. Ayala carefully explained his reasons why science and faith can go hand in hand. Dr. Ayala took time to meet with High School students from the Houston area, who are participating in the museum’s Young Scholars program. In a closed meeting preceding his talk, Dr. Ayala explained how he got interested in his field of study and what one needs to do in order to achieve what he did.

On February 24, the museum hosted Mongolian diplomats, a Russian museum official, and a Spanish-born geneticist. While this kind of line up does not happen every day, it does occur often enough to warrant what I wrote earlier: “never a dull moment at HMNS.”

Late Nights at HMNS!

hay guyz!
Creative Commons License photo credit: me and the sysop

As the Overnight Coordinator here at the Museum I have had the privilege of spending many nights here at the Museum. It is a lot of fun, kids and parents often ask if my job is a little bit like the job Larry Daly has in the Night at the Museum movie and I always say “it’s not quite THAT exciting!” but it is definitely a great program!

Our Spring Overnight schedule is packed and by the end of May we will have seen 3 school groups from out of state, 5 scout groups and even one Overnight for Educators only! Because some of our school field trips and our weekend Overnights fill up six months to a year in advance, we have decided to start up another option for those of you who’d like to know what the Museum is like after the field trips leave and the doors are shut for the day… the late night of HMNS!

chemistry-with-carolyn-leapOur first Late Night has been developed for a group that is going to be auctioning off the spots for a fundraiser at their elementary school. They’ve selected to see a Cool Chemistry show (performed by our very own Carolyn of Science on Stage,) a Planetarium show, have a pizza party with the dinosaurs and then a late night flashlight tour of all of the spooky and gross things to see around the Museum!

The groups for these events are limited and activities can be selected to suit your group so you really do get the personalized backstage pass to the Museum after hours! We’re hoping this program will grow and we will be able to share our fun Museum adventures with more students and families who may not be quite ready to stay the whole night with us!! For more information on setting up an Overnight or a Late Night for your group, email me at overnights@hmns.org.  

As part of the FunHundred we’re also offering a couple of late night events for families to sign up for individually including  Dinos After Dark and A Night at the Museum — check them out!