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"Lights Out:" Party at the Anchorage Museum [GALLERY]

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The only way to understand the value of museums is to catch a child seeing his or her first dinosaur, astronaut, or Star Wars exhibit; seeing the eyes widen, the imagination soar, and horizons expand. I’ll never forget those experiences growing up, and I look forward to sharing in the adventure with my own child some day. Museums are, simply put, awesome things.
But the word does conjure up a clear image, filled with old smells, echoing halls, and something distinctly aged. Artist Robert Smithson once described museums as tombs; “graveyards above the ground”.
Last Friday, the Anchorage Museum gave itself a one-night-only makeover aimed to break the mold of how most people perceive museums. The break in the monotony came in the form of a fundraising event entitled “Lights Out,” with the distinctively non-museumy slogan: “In the dark north, anything can happen.”
Attendees grabbed drinks and glow-in-the-dark accessories and brought the party to the museum.
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Dancers with glow-in-the-dark hula hoops performed as DJ Spencer Lee provided the beats.
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Outside the main hall, adults enjoyed beverages before reverting to their inner-six year old. Once reconnected with their youth, they took part in dozens of activities. Christopher Sutliff offered lessons in screen printing. Museum staff explored the science of fluorescence. The Planetarium cycled through Zeppelin, Floyd, and the Beatles. There was even a human-sized snow-globe simulator (which I really, really want now).
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Skinny Raven and Her Tern Boutique gave the dancers a break with a runway show.
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And for folks too worn out to take the stairs up to see the amazing Dena’ina exhibit, The Jephries performed on the elevators to cheering crowds. I don’t know who came up with the idea to provide live “elevator music,” but my hat’s off to you.
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Outside, a row of food trucks – Urban Bamboo, Wheel Good Food, Katle’s Kreations, and Eat Alaska – were waiting.
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The night was a resounding success, and equally innovative. We come to know our museums for what passes through them; traveling exhibits that stay for awhile and move on. The building that houses those exhibits is just a host.
Friday’s “Lights Out” event was different. It made the museum the star. The bright red lights cast on the walls created a character; an attitude. It was a creative spin that the hundreds who turned out thoroughly seemed to enjoy. Hopefully, others will take the opportunity next time.

 

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