It was a cold Friday night when BYU students Kelsey and Brent Dorff decided to have a date night at the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum.
They had heard about the Titanoboa snake exhibit and wanted to check it out. They were surprised to find the museum busy with patrons engaging in scavenger hunts, eating doughnuts and bravely putting their hands into a tarantula cage.
Night at the Museums was held on Jan. 19 for the fifth consecutive year. All five BYU museums collaborate on this event geared toward helping students be aware that there are, in fact, five museums within BYU’s campus.
From the title, many might assume the event was inspired by the motion picture starring Ben Stiller. But Philipp Malzl, museum educator of the Museum of Art, said it was actually inspired by a European practice.
“It’s really inspired by something they started in Europe first, which is to have the museum open long on this one day a year,” Malzl said. “They’ve been doing that for some time, and I love that we’re doing it now too.”
Malzl has been working with the Museum of Art for a couple of years and is in charge of putting together museum events like Night at the Museums.
“This event is really just an opportunity for BYU students and the community to see the museum in a casual kind of way,” he said. “For me personally it’s like I’m going to a party. It is always exciting to see what brings people out.”
The food and music enticed museum-goers Rebecca and Taylor Tanner to attend.
“The treats are probably what gets us here, but usually the music is my favorite part,” Taylor Tanner said.
But the attractions didn’t stop there. Katy Knight, Bean Life Science Museum education administrator, said the museum has two live animal shows.
“Right now we also have the special exhibit called ‘Titanoboa’ that’s a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institute,” Knight said.
The exhibit will leave the museum in March; BYU is its last stop on tour.
The event also included a scavenger hunt requiring guests to visit at least four of the five museums: the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum, Museum of Art, Museum of Peoples and Cultures, Museum of Paleontology and the Education in Zion gallery.
Guests were given a clue at each stop as to how to get a sticker from that establishment. Once someone had collected at least four of the unique stickers, they would win a Night at the Museums car decal.
Those who missed the event can still visit the museums during regular hours and enjoy free treats and live music each month at the Museum of Art’s Art After Dark series.
“Art After Dark is essentially a monthly big party like this Night at the Museums, except we are opening or highlighting a specific new exhibition,” Malzl said. “So it’s really an official exhibition opening reception with free refreshments and live music and oftentimes a live artist or an activity or a scavenger hunt, something the audience can do to engage with the art and to have enjoyable and even an educational experience.”
More information about upcoming events can be found on each museum’s respective event calendars: