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Ever since the publication of E. L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in 1967, kids — and the young at heart — have fantasized about what it might be like to take up residence in a museum. And while there may not be an Airbnb to make a long-term stay a thing (yet), some of the world’s most celebrated museums offer patrons the chance to spend a night sleeping under the stars … or a shark tank. Here are six of them.
American Museum of Natural History
A Night at the Museum indeed! New York City’s American Museum of Natural History regularly hosts what might be one of the famous museum sleepovers. Families, with flashlights in hand, can spend the night exploring the origin of species in the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Hall of Human Origins, get up close and personal with a Tyrannosaurus Rex in the Age of Dinosaurs and settle in for the night under all 21,000 pounds of the museum’s famous blue whale. Kids aged six to 13 (and their families) are invited to partake, but space fills up quickly (though there are still some dates available for April, May and June events).
If you’d prefer to explore the museum sans kids, there are also adult-only events, which include a buffet dinner with wine and beer, live music, wine and beer and wine and beer. (Did we mention there’s wine and beer?) The next versions of these 21-plus events are happening on February 16 and June 22, 2018.
Natural History Museum, London
Not to be outdone across the pond, the Natural History Museum, London hosts its own lineup of slumber parties, known as “Dino Snores,” with both family and grown-up editions. The kid-friendly version includes a torch-lit exploration of the museum’s galleries and artifacts and a dinosaur T-shirt-making workshop.
The kids’ night begins as you set up camp in one of the Museum’s spectacular galleries, Hintze Hall. The museum has also partnered with Airbnb to create Airbnb Base Camp, a sleepover area on the top balcony of Hintze Hall, right next to a 1,300-year-old sequoia and with a perfect view of Hope, the museum’s giant blue whale skeleton. While the museum’s February, March, April and May events are already sold out, there are still some spaces available for the summer (but you’d better hurry up).
The adult version of this slumber party begins with a welcome cocktail in Hintze Hall, which is where you’ll set up camp for the night. In addition to a three-course dinner, guests will get amazing access to the museum’s galleries and exhibitions plus a dinosaur-themed game room. Live music, stand-up comedy, a monster movie marathon and a pub quiz are also part of the festivities. (If you have a little too much fun, a morning yoga session might help to cancel some of that out). Upcoming events on March 23, May 12 and July 13, 2018 all still have availability.
Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science
Want to sleep with the fishes? Miami’s Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science is offering visitors of all ages the chance to snuggle up beneath the facility’s 500,000-gallon Gulf Stream Aquarium, which is home to home to a variety of marine life, including mahi-mahi, devil rays and hammerhead sharks. As if counting sharks to fall asleep weren’t enough excitement for one night, these Overnight Adventures are a great opportunity to learn more about the world around you.
Over the course of the evening, you’ll be invited to a private show in the museum’s massive 250-seat planetarium, learn about the history of dinosaur flight, take part in a fire and ice science show and (if the weather allows) do a little stargazing on the museum’s rooftop. The next Overnights, which are designed for kids ages six to 17 (plus their parents), are scheduled for February 9, April 12 and June 8.
Milwaukee Public Museum
You can choose your own adventure at the Milwaukee Public Museum, Wisconsin’s more than century-old natural history museum, which attracts more than 500,000 visitors each year. For those who prefer to avoid the crowds, the museum’s Adult Sleepover offers unfettered access to the institution’s many exhibitions. Go behind the scenes with special tours, curator talks and the chance to map out your ideal visit — on your own terms and with very few fellow patrons to interrupt you.
USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum
If you’ve ever wanted to experience life at sea, without leaving dry land, you can do it aboard the USS Hornet, a Navy aircraft carrier that played an essential role in World War II and is now docked in Alameda, California, as part of the USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum. The museum offers three ways for visitors to experience life aboard the historic ship, which was often referred to as the Grey Ghost.
For history buffs, the Live-Aboard Program gives guests ages six and up the opportunity to explore every fascinating corner of this ship, which recovered the first men to walk on the Moon following the Apollo 11 mission. For science types, STEM Nights for school kids from kindergarten to 12th grade will learn about the engineering of the boat through a series of hands-on exhibitions. The most tempting opportunity, however, is the Mystery Tour, which is open to anyone age 16 or older, who will break up into small groups to investigate areas of the ship that have never been opened to the public … and where there have been various reports of paranormal activity. Spooky!
National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Although the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Extra Innings sleepover was created for kids ages seven to 12, it’s often the parents who accompany them who are more excited about spending the night at this beloved museum dedicated to America’s favorite pastime. The evening includes special access to the museum’s entire collection, interactive programs with experts on the sport, a host of activity stations and a private screening of The Baseball Experience in the Grandstand Theater. When it comes time to get some shuteye, guests will stake out floor space in the Hall of Fame plaque gallery, surrounded by tributes to such baseball greats as Jackie Robinson and Ted Williams.
Featured image courtesy of the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science.
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