Getting Prehistoric: Museum caters to adults with After Dark

By: Fred Blauth/The Duquesne Duke - A skeleton of a T-Rex towers over the attendees.

By: Addison Smith | Opinions Editor

If you’re like most adults, you secretly love museums but hate when there are field trip groups and children roaming around. If that’s the case for you, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History has you covered with “Carnegie After Dark” programs that happen quarterly.

Each night has a theme and last Friday’s theme was inspired by Jurassic Park. There were dinosaur tours, a chance to wrap your own fossil, opportunities to “dig” for bones and more. While all this may seem fun and enjoyable, there were certain parts of the night that seemed lacking in direction and opportunities to learn from paleontologists and other scientific experts about dinosaurs.

Fred Blauth/The Duquesne Duke
Fred Blauth/The Duquesne Duke

Upon my first few minutes of walking around, the museum seemed almost empty, which is bizarre for an event advertised as “sold out.” My friend and I didn’t watch Jurassic Park in the auditorium, so maybe more people were there. Everywhere we went, we seemed to run into the same group of ten on a quintuple date.

While an empty museum was nice while visiting the botany wing (we were the only two in it), the true perk came from short lines to all of the activities. Normally covered by children, we were able to make it to the “archaeological dig” activity within five seconds, save for a lecture on not hurting anyone with the “pointy objects.”

Next, we learned how to case our own fossil. The “fossils” given to us felt like soap, so rubbing them with wet paper towels and then encasing them paper mache style led to a messy situation. My black blazer needs to be sent to the dry cleaners after being covered with fossil goop.

Here’s where the first flaw of a lack of scientific experts came in; this project felt like an arts and crafts assignment because no one explained to us the importance of wrapping a fossil. Upon further research and questioning it was found that fossil wrapping is important because you don’t want the rock to chip and ruin your finding on the way back. However, this information had to be coerced at points.

These seemed like the two major “hands-on” activities of the evening. However, there were meet and greets with dinosaurs (or Carnegie staff dressed in dinosaur costumes) and an opportunity to meet animals descended from the dinosaurs as well.

My friend and I made it just in time to meet Betty and Dot, a tortoise and alligator respectively, at the animal encounters table on the third floor overlooking the dinosaur exhibit. Betty was so affectionately named after Betty White, while Dot didn’t seem to have a great namesake to live up to. Dot was about a foot long and very mellow, but we were informed that she would grow to be about 12 feet in length and not as domestic.

Fred Blauth/The Duquesne Duke
Fred Blauth/The Duquesne Duke

Compared to other Carnegie 21 and older programming such as night at the Carnegie Science Center, Carnegie After Dark seemed more mellow. It might have been the cap of people or the less hands-on aspects of the history museum, but it was pleasant.

Overall, the event was solid and worth a $10 entry fee. You have access to the museum and will not have to fight with children to let your inner child shine through. It’s money well spent and a nice evening away from a typical bar and party college scene.

The next Carnegie After Dark program will be on April 30 and will be based on Animal House. The event will include a visit from animals from the Columbus Zoo. There is a cash bar at the event as well as small snacks for a small fee as well. The event typically runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., but I would go to dinner beforehand instead of spending a whole four hours at the event, as looking at museum exhibits for that long may make you go cross-eyed.