For those of you who follow me on Instagram… or follow the New Brunswick Museum on Instagram most likely saw at least one post about (E)SPACE, an event which was held at the New Brunswick Museum on November 22nd. (E)SPACE was the first event of a new series called Soiree at the New Brunswick Museum. The Soiree series is a series of after hours events at the museum, which will be similar to Friday Night Live at the R.O.M. in Toronto or Lates at the Science Museum in London. From an interview I did with 97.3 the Wave here is an explanation of what (E)SPACE would entail.
“Laura Oland with the museum says its all in an effort to bring a new demographic into the museum. “We’re really trying to acquire a bit of a younger audience, more of the young adults in the community to come out to the museum for an evening. Saint John seems to be pretty keen on different arts and different funky events that happen uptown so we’re trying to kind of jump on that bandwagon as well,” she said. “It’s not just for one target audience, it’s for everybody. It’s a community space,” she said. Oland says this is the first event in an after-hours “soiree” series to be held at the museum. She says events like this help modernize the museum. “It’s just such a different perspective to see the museum really come to life, to have a bit of music, have a drink. It really takes museum experiences into the 21st century. So many people have views of museums as being old and stuffy and that’s not true at all, so it’s neat to take it into a whole other perspective,” she said.”
We went with the theme (E)SPACE due to a temporary exhibit we have on display currently called Health in Space: Daring to Explore. This exhibit is all about the health challenges astronauts face while they are in space. It’s a visiting exhibit which will be up at the New Brunswick Museum until January 6th.
The week before the event ticket sales weren’t so great, however, as our count down started and more press was released for the event the tickets started selling like crazy, we ended up having to come up with a cap amount of guests for the event!!!! There were a few tickets left at the door which eventually sold out!!! With a total of 337 people attending the event!!!!!! Myself and the rest of the NBM team involved with this event were so excited.
The doors for the event opened at 7pm and finished at 10pm (which meant people were really out by 10:30). People were lining up before the event even started which was so exciting for us. I have worked at the museum now since 2013 and besides a free day like Canada Day, I have never seen this many people engaged with any activity or event hosted by the museum.
As guests came in they were greeted my the Mandalorian Merks, a Star Wars comic-con group that came down from Fredericton for the event. The two individuals were wearing 60lbs and 120lbs worth of armour!!!
The main centre of the event was in the Hall of Great Whales on the second floor. We turned down the regular museum lights, rented laser rights, and installed speakers throughout the entire second floor, which played space themed music all night. From Elton John Rocketman to Drops of Jupiter by Train were on the list.
One of the new things we did to mix up the event, was we had a bar! We were so lucky to have Moosehead Brewery, Yip Cider and Dunham’s Run Winery all attend the event.
Also in the Hall of Great Whale we had Science East and UNB putting on a variety of science experiments and Hereos Beacon the local comic book shop was set up with space related material.
In the Health in Space exhibit we had a breakout activity going on. We partnered with Breakout Saint John who designed an escape room activity throughout the exhibit. Guests could sign up in groups and given an assigned time to come back and attempt the breakout activity. Teams were given a kit, which had six pouches each with a different challenge in them, and the answers were puzzles throughout the exhibit. Each team was given a captain or a “lead” scientist who wore a lab coat throughout the challenge. Breakout Saint John is such a popular activity in Saint John that it was just so awesome to have them partner with us for this event.
We had the other galleries on the second floor open too, which included the bird and geology galleries. Both galleries we turned off the regular lights and installed laser and coloured lights. We had photo booths installed throughout geology and in the bird gallery we had binoculars out for visitors to admire the birds. For galleries that I walk through almost every day it was so cool to see them transformed.
I was in awe the entire night about how great the event went that I didn’t manage to take even one picture. So thankfully Allie and others were snapping pictures and videos throughout the evening.
My favourite part of the entire evening was how diverse the audience was. Guests were from 19 to their 80s, and based on our feedback survey’s people had a GREAT time. I was also so amazed by the amount of people who told me this was their first time ever in the museum! The idea behind events like these is to target individuals who might not normally attend a museum event, and to that I think we truly succeeded. Plus, the New Brunswick Museum is Canada’s oldest continuing museum so as New Brunswicker’s that is something we should all be proud of.
Thanks again to everyone who came out to the event, it was extraordinary to see so many people at this event, especially since it was our first time ever doing something like this. Keep an eye out for our next Soiree which will be happening in May 2020.
P.S. If you are interested in getting involved with the Soiree series or have any questions/comments for me please get in touch with me!!
Photography: The Lovely Allie Ruigrok
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