Natural History Museum's annual Dinosaur Ball raises over $1.5M towards educational programs
French Impressionist Henri Rousseau would have been delighted. For the opening of “Antarctic Dinosaurs” at the Natural History Museum’s annual Dinosaur Ball, event co-chairs and hosts appeared to draw party inspiration from the artists’ infamous wild jungle scenes painted in the early 1990s.
The museum turned into an after hours fête set in a lush, tropical garden reminiscent of the ancient mega-continent Pangea to reflect Antarctica’s surprising tropical history and to celebrate the new exhibit taking place now until January 5, 2020—all while raising critical funds for NHM’s educational programs.
More than 500 guests gathered at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) for the biennial Dinosaur Ball. This year’s event included an all-access pass to the Museum and served as the exclusive preview of “Antarctic Dinosaurs” where event adventurers can discover fossils in one of the most isolated environments on Earth.
This year’s soiree raised more than $1.5 million, the second highest amount ever achieved at this event. The generous donations will make the “Antarctic Dinosaurs” exhibition accessible through NHM School Visits and other education programs, as the Dinosaur Ball enables the museum to serve more than 200,000 students, teachers, and families each year, fulfilling its mission to be a vital resource for the community.
The event was attended by notable guests like: NFL Hall of Fame player Tony Gonzalez and wife October Gonzalez; philanthropist Susan Bay-Nimoy; television producer Marcy Carsey; NHM President and Director Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga; NHM Board President Shannon Faulk; former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo; French Consul General Christophe Lemoine; and former US Ambassador Frank Baxter and Kathy Baxter.
During the event, Dr. Bettison-Varga announced a record-setting $5 million endowment gift from philanthropist and dinosaur enthusiast Gretchen Augustyn, to create a newly endowed position – the Gretchen Augustyn Director of the Dinosaur Institute. The largest endowment gift the Museum has ever received, it supports the Dinosaur Institute’s staff, expeditions, and research in perpetuity.
Setting the mood
Inside a spectacular 60-foot diameter geodesic dome that looked like a giant igloo from the outside and glowed with enchanting Antarctic colors, partygoers mingled with NHM scientists over craft libations with dinosaur shaped ice cubes complete with an ice bar, canapes of savory “snowball” bulgogi bao buns, “sweetened snow” shrimp skewers, and “Antarctic Circle” sushi rice balls passed by servers wearing signature winter hats during a lively Social Hour and a private look at the “Antarctic Dinosaurs” exhibition.
After indulging in frozen delights, guests were treated to a rare dining experience—a banquet in NHM’s iconic Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Oschin and Family Hall of African Mammals and North American Mammal Hall, feasting on a flora and fauna themed menu surrounded by palm trees and elaborate centerpieces.
This atmosphere reflected the lush rainforest recreated in “Antarctic Dinosaurs” to show the region’s climate during the Jurassic period. NHM scientists and experts were present at tables to share stories of expeditions and research, the kind of real, hands-on science that is the museum’s trademark.
After dinner, revelers returned to the geodesic dome for dessert and dancing. Guests satiated their sweet tooth on a menu of boozy milkshakes, frozen hot chocolates, and custom hand-painted sugar cookies, and danced the night away or marveled at ice world wonders with a nitrogen sundae in hand.
Happening now through January 5, 2020, “Antarctic Dinosaurs” asks you to imagine Antarctica before it was frozen. Today, Antarctica is a forbidding land of snow and ice — but dinosaurs thrived there 200 million years ago in a lush, forested environment.
“Antarctic Dinosaurs” allows you to venture into dramatically different landscapes, from Antarctica 255 million years ago to the extreme conditions expedition teams encounter there today. Following in the footsteps of NHM scientists, you can discover fossils unearthed as recently as 2011 — including two dinosaur species that are new to science.