Grown-up fun on tap at ‘OMSI After Dark’

Picture the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry without kids around. Lots of adults did, on this special evening …

Second-grade teacher Michael Lindberg and his wife Heather say they find OMSI to be really fun, but a little odd, without students swirling about.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For decades, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) has been one of Portland’s quintessential family attractions.

But on July 9, after its regular operating hours, the museum again came to life as the new “OMSI After Dark” event welcomed a different crowd of visitors – all adults.

“That’s right – this is a 21-years-and-over event,” explained Amanda Thomas, coordinator of adult programs at OMSI, as she welcomed guests to the event. “It is an opportunity for adults to experience the museum without having to watch their own children, or make way for other people’s kids.”

Raife Neuman, Jessie King, and Sarah Melton look like they’re having a blast playing (ahem, experimenting) with the air-pressured bottle launcher.

Science education for all
Thomas added that many of their guests remark that they enjoy seeing and playing with the exhibits, and to have the opportunity to learn without being a “child-wrangler.”

“We consider this event important,” Thomas said about the affair. “It’s because OMSI is a great resource for science education, but not just for children – but for adults as well. So, it’s a great opportunity for people who have never been to the museum to come and experience it for the first time.”

After showing their ID to prove they are adults, guests Carolyn Blumensen, Becky Wethern, and Jordan Gladow check into the event with OMSI’s Amanda Thomas.

All-access pass, except the playroom
We found the museum filled with grown-ups truly enjoying themselves. We watched as they turned knobs, adjusted demonstration equipment, and pulled levers that made objects shoot in the air, roll down inclines, and create patterns – all in the pursuit of science, of course.

Activities for the evening included a “Dino Speed Dating” program, in which experts gave brief talks about the dinosaurs in their featured exhibit, “Dinosaurs: China’s Ancient Giants”.

Michael and Heather Lindberg came from Vancouver, Washington, to take in the event. “The best part is, there are no second-graders here,” Heather said. “My husband teaches second grade. When we visited, it was with his class. For me, it’s more fun without the kids.”

As for the teacher, Michael reported, “It’s a little odd, but it’s fun.”

The only area off-limits was the children’s playroom. Some folks tested the door, and looked disappointed they couldn’t frolic among games contained therein.

A caterer brings out another slab of the superb appetizers provided at the July 9th party by the museum.

Libations abound
OMSI members entered the party free; guests paid a cover charge – but found it a great value.

More than discovering the secrets of science alone, guests also tasted – and learned the science behind – food and beverage favorites from local gastronomical artisans, including Moonstruck Chocolate, Full Sail Brewing, Portland Roasting, Hip Chicks Do Wine, Bon Appetit, and Clear Creek Distillery.

In the courtyard tent, tables were festooned with appetizers ranging from fruits and cheeses to decadent cookies and brownies. Being an adult event, a tended bar was available to offer spirited cheer.

Jake Gold, Science Educator at OMSI, talks dinosaurs with visitor Richard Young.

Follow-up event planned
This isn’t a one-shot event, Thomas assured us. “Judging by the turnout, we’ll have another all-adult event, probably in conjunction with the opening of a new exhibit like ‘Mind-Bender Mansion’. Look for it in late January or early February of 2009.”

For more information, check out their their web site: www.omsi.edu.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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