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Mystery at the NMA’s Night at the Museum

Michelle Brotohusodo

If someone gave you $10 to go to a show or event, you’d probably be a bit stumped as to what you’d be able to afford. The going rate for a movie ticket is more than that, a ticket to a comedy, dance or music gig at least two or three times more. So if I were to tell you that $10 would get you entry into a three and half hour event that includes performances, talks, activities and more, you probably wouldn’t believe me, would you? But it’s true! And believe me, it’ll be worth every single cent.

The National Museum of Australia (NMA)’s Night at the Museum events are one of the best ways to spend $10 in Canberra. Held on a Friday and based on a theme (mostly taken from the NMA’s Eternity Gallery), they’re fun, educational, surprising and inspiring – and for over-18s only. There have been five so far: Superstition (which was held on a Friday 13), Love (when Valentine’s Day conveniently fell on a Friday that year), Thrill, Fear, and Joy. I’ve been to every single one and I can honestly say they just keep getting better and better. The next one, Mystery, is on 31 July.

Wool bombing the Blue Poles at the Joy Night at the Museum.

Wool bombing the Blue Poles at the Joy Night at the Museum.

Each night is designed to include creative, physical, and mental activities. At the Superstition night people could boogie at a silent disco or choose to tempt fate by smashing mirrors and walking under ladders. At the Love night my friend and I had fun drawing on the windows of the Museum Shop and making badges and paper flowers. One of my friends fulfilled a lifelong dream of trying to ride a unicycle at the Thrill night, which also featured a mechanical bull, fire twirling and reptiles.

Drawing on the Museum Shop window at the Love Night at the Museum.

Drawings on the Museum Shop window at the Love Night at the Museum.

The Fear night turned out to be very educational for my friends and I, as we stood at a mock crime scene where Australian Federal Police officers explained how they look for clues and later listened to a mortician tell us about embalming techniques. The most recent night, Joy, was the biggest and best yet, and included a jumping castle, hula hooping, Lego, fairy floss and a range of dance performances including belly, burlesque and Brazilian Samba.

Jumping for joy at the last Night at the Museum (photo: National Museum of Australia).

Jumping for joy at the last Night at the Museum (photo: National Museum of Australia).

There’s also a Museum Game at each night, where teams of four compete in a mini tournament in the Landmarks Gallery. My friends and I tried this at the Joy night and even though we came dead last it was good to finally give it a go.

The idea for the Nights at the Museum originated when NMA staff noticed that the museum wasn’t getting as many young adults through the door as they’d like. So they thought about a way to do something different and unexpected, and show off the fun side of the museum. This turned into an idea of doing an after hours, adults only event with bars, live music, talks and entertainment.

After they’ve locked in a theme, the staff have fun coming up with what activities they can run on the night, looking for quirky twists and ways that visitors can be part of the action – apparently the ideas that make others laugh out loud are the ones that usually get through!

The Fool Factory playing with fire at the Thrill Night at the Museum (photo: National Museum of Australia).

The Fool Factory playing with fire at the Thrill Night at the Museum (photo: National Museum of Australia).

So if you’re looking for a fun night out, a different way of experiencing the NMA and its collection, and you’re looking for a bit of Mystery, you should definitely check out the next Night at the Museum. I’ll be there, so if you see me, come say hi!

The essentials
What: Night at the Museum: Mystery
When: 6pm-9.30pm, Friday, 31 July 2015
Where: National Museum of Australia
Cost: $10 + booking fee, free for Museum Friends full members
Web: Visit the National Museum of Australia’s website

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Michelle Brotohusodo

Michelle moved to Canberra vowing to stay for two years, tops. 10 years later, she’s a bona fide Canberra convert. When she’s not working in her day job as a public servant, she’s enjoying Canberra’s culinary delights or finding fun things to do/see in and around town. More about the Author

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