In top-secret fashion keeping with the gala’s Intrigue theme, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science lured nearly 1,000 guests through its doors for the annual Night at the Museum gala on Nov. 11, 2017. This year’s event captured party goers’ curiosity and had them tapping their inner investigator during an evening of illusion, magic and mystery.
On the plaza, guests navigated a human maze leading to the Museum entrance as music, lights and models dressed in mirrored-covered body suits created a visual feast for the eyes. Inside, deceptive décor continued in the atrium where a mesmerizing sculptural tessellation archway hung overhead and interesting geometric pieces graced the walkway.
But before the hundreds of poshly dressed guests arrived at 7 p.m., top Museum notables and supporters stepped back in time at the VIP pre-party (presented by Highland Capital Management) in an “underground” Sherlock Holmes-inspired VIP lounge – aka “The Vault” (presented by PlainsCapital Bank). The pre-party took place in the Children’s Museum, which was transformed with a clandestine entrance, vintage décor, wood walls and Edison lightbulb string lights.
Upon entering, VIPs consumed edible evidence and enjoyed printed photo cocktails and savory cuisine served by speakeasy servers. In attendance were gala co-chairs Sylvia E. Cespedes and Hernan J.F. Saenz,III and Meredith and Mark Plunkett; honorary chairs Sharon and Kip Tindell; and some of Dallas’ most philanthropic faces including Margot and Ross Perot, Lyda Hill, Sally and Forrest Hoglund, and Katherine and Eric Reeves. Other dignitaries included Dr. Linda Abraham-Silver (Perot Museum CEO), Rusty and John Jaggers, Gail and Jim Spann, Kelly Compton, Thomas Surgent and others.
With event dossier in hand, guests made their way through the five levels where they encountered myriad mind-puzzling experiences, such as augmented reality, baffling botany, zoetropes and cryptozoology trivia. On Level 4, guests posed and danced in a fashion light tunnel booth, complete with wind machine, as behind-the-scenes editors captured photos and produced music videos for each guest (which were later emailed to them). Also a big hit were the henna body art stations and the Agatha Christie-inspired “Poirot” crime lab where guests got their “spy” on with fingerprinting, document examination and DNA analysis. Other highlights included lie detector tests, lipstick print readings and other investigative fun.
Trick-the-brain spectacles were in abundance with 3D holograms, mirrored illusions, a balloon-swallower and other magical entertainers, while the Journey to Space traveling exhibition added a fascinating dose of cosmic coolness.
Fascinating fare included a “squid ink” pasta station; mirror-glazed cake bites; 3D food printing; a blindfolded food challenge; a rotary evaporator station that extracted the taste – but not the smell – from apple cider; “cassoulet” on grilled focaccia with duck confit; forbidden black rice conge with coconut, vanilla, cinnamon, sugar and pear; a gravity-separated centrifuge station featuring carbonated mission fig “beer” with lime; plus curiously cute cocktails such as “A Study in Scarlet” and “Goldfinger.”
For the after party, the sensational Taylor Pace Orchestra rocked the rafters as ladies traded in their stilettos for comfy flats at the shoe check-in. Wearable disguises – fedoras and spy glasses – were on hand so guests could hit the dance floor incognito. Late-night snacks included French toast sticks with bourbon-infused maple syrup and blueberry thyme jam, Korean style fried chicken with garlic and chive flowers, chocolate-dipped toasted marshmallows with graham cracker dust, Texas “poutine” brisket with bourbon gravy and jalapeno cheddar curds, and more.
Capturing the magic of the night was WFAA meteorologist Colleen Coyle, who conducted a nearly hour-long Facebook Live session.
Just days after the doors closed to the 2017 event, plans were already underway for 2018. Save the date because Night at the Museum will return Nov. 10, 2018. Until then, stay curious!
- Event report courtesy Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Photos by Can Turkyilmaz.