Saturday night, I was able to knock another item off my bucket list; I slept at the American Museum of Natural History in New York! That’s right, boys and girls, I attended the Night at the Museum for Grown Ups. This wonderful sleepover program, originally developed for 6-13 year-olds after the popularity of the film franchise “Night at the Museum” starring Ben Stiller, has recently been expanded to “adults only” evenings, taking place every few months through out the year.
Saturday evening, I arrived at the 81st entrance of the museum, with my sleeping bag, pillow and pjs in tow. I was about to have an adventure of a lifetime! I mean, how many people can brag that they slept under the 94 foot blue whale that hangs from the ceiling of the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life? Once everyone checked in and received their orientation packet, we headed towards the underwater world to claim our cots and corner of ocean floor. I was feeling brave and chose to sleep next to a diorama of a whale fighting with a giant squid. I figured if they were fighting amongst themselves, they wouldn’t bother trying to eat me if they really did come to life after hours!
There was complementary champagne and free time to roam about the museum before dinner at 8:15. I took off in to the halls of the first and second floors. I walked through the North American Forests, Warburg Hall of New York State Environment, the Grand Gallery where a giant Sequoia Canoe is suspended from the ceiling, Spitzer Hall of Human Organs (some real cool stuff in there), the Ross Hall of Meteorites, South American Peoples, Mexico and Central America, Birds of the World, African Peoples, Stout Hall of Asian Peoples, Asian Mammals, Akeley Hall of African Mammals, and of course the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda where three dinosaurs greet visitors every day. There really is TONS to see and I was able to leisurely stroll through all these exhibits COMPLETELY ALONE! There was the occasional fellow sleepover guest passing through as well as members of the evening cleaning crews (who I would ask, “Is it ok I’m in here?”), but for the most part, I was rolling solo. It was so wonderful to enjoy the peace and quiet of the halls, not waiting for a tourist to move to get a better photo or listening to parents squabble with children who have not yet come to appreciate the museum’s wonders.
I was so absorbed in my self guided tour, I almost missed dinner! I headed over to our dining area for a lovely buffet spread. We had the option of spinach salad, chicken breast, Mahi Mahi, penne with a cream sauce, rice and beans, plantains and for dessert there were tiny fruit tarts.
After dinner, I joined up with am awesome mother/daughter pair of sleepover guests, Nancy and Amanda, who I had made friends with earlier in the evening (yes, my “I Talk to Strangers Disease” was in full swing). The three of us started off towards the Koch Dinosaur Wing where Bob the Fossil Expert gave a detailed tour. Eager to see more, Nancy and I, split from the tour to see some of the other special exhibits. We visited, “Life at the Limits : Stories of Amazing Species” and “Nature’s Fury : The Science of Natural Disasters” which was absolutely remarkable. Nature’s Fury may have been my favorite exhibit. It’s only open for a few more weeks so I highly recommend getting to the museum soon to see it!
At 10:45 Nancy and I met back up with Amanda, to attend the live animal presentation in the Kaufman Theater. The handler brought a few different predators for us to see and learn about. We got to see two types of owl (one that looked just like Hedwig from Harry Potter films), a golden eagle, a crocodile, a black throated lizard, a Burmese Python, and a four-month old Lynx. These animals were amazing to see live.
After the live animal show, we were directed to the Hall of Planet Earth to the “Lunar Lounge” for evening snacks of cookies and milk, assorted fruit, coffee, tea, and hot cocoa. This space was opened all evening in case people couldn’t sleep, needed a snack, or just wanted to hang out a little longer to talk about what they saw during the evening. Nancy, Amanda and I grabbed a snack to prepare us for our last trip of the evening, our journey in to deep space for the “Dark Universe Space Show” in the Rose Center. Neil DeGasse Tyson narrates the newest presentation at the Hayden planetarium space theater. I’m not going to lie, the 12:15am presentation in a dark room with comfy chairs definitely made me want to close my eyes and drift to sleep, so I was happy to head back to my cot on the ocean floor after the show!
At 7am the lights came on in Milstein Hall, and we were given time to wake up, change, gather our belongings and enjoy a light breakfast in the lower level cafeteria. The museum shops opened early for some private shopping time for guests as well. We were once again allowed to roam the museum and were offered one last private guided tour, this time exploring the dioramas in Hall of North American Mammals.
After this walk through, sleepover guests, carrying their gear from the night before, were invited to the final special event, a viewing of “Spiders Alive!” ; The newest exhibit in the museum. This exhibit showcases live spiders from around the world and teaches visitors about various traits, attributes, and how they are helping us in the environment and medical science.
Overall this was an amazing opportunity that I highly recommend to everyone! It does come with a much higher price tag than a normal trip to the museum, however it is a once in a lifetime opportunity and is totally worth the price of admission. Dates for the remainder of the year are currently sold out, however you can sign up for the AMHN news/updates emails, so you don’t miss the next opportunity to spend a night at the museum!
To learn more about the program for adults and children, follow the links below :