At last night's Science Lounge at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, I asked a grown woman what drew her into a fishbowl full of craft supplies to make her own mini diorama, and this is what she said: "I was like, ooh! There's glue sticks in there!"
Hot glue does have an undeniable magical pull on folks who fondly remember craft time in summer camp. At this month's Science Lounge event, after hours museum-goers were invited to relive their childhood hobbies while sipping on cocktails. And everyone was totally into it.
The Science Lounge is a way the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, which usually caters to young families, tries to draw in a crowd in their 20s and 30s. Julia Spalding-Beegles, Adult Programs Coordinator, says that it has proven to be a very popular night. The theme of last night's event -- dioramas -- is one they've done before. But this time it came with an extra hook: the museum was showing Ian Cooke's animated short film/extended music video, Cassowary and Fruit Bat, which was inspired by a diorama in the DMNS Australia exhibit.
Cassowary and Fruit Bat was the centerpiece of the night. The filmmakers were on site to speak with visitors and show off props from the film, which played twice in the museum's theatre. Cooke also played two live sets in the Morgridge Family Exploration Center. Considering the kind of crowds that Ian Cooke usually draws, his sets were sparsely attended. People milled in and out, munching on chicken wings in between stints at the museum's other activity stations. For his part, Cooke played two solid performances. He rolled out work that he's put together for Wonderbound, a ballet collaboration with Lighthouse Writers Workshop and Ballet Nouveau Colorado. With trademark quirky charm, he introduced the dreamy instrumental piece thusly: "It doesn't have words, so you're just gonna have to, like, listen to it." As more booze started to flow later in the night, the make-your-own-diorama station got a little hot, with people jockeying for extra pipe cleaners and reloaded glue sticks. The DMNS provided tiny boxes, backdrops, plastic animals and fake shrubbery, and it pretty much turned everyone in attendance into a bona fide artiste. Dori (pictured at the beginning of this post), whose blue hair perfectly coordinated with her sparkly duck-billed dinosaur, says she's a frequent attendee at The Science Lounge. "There's something magical about being in the museum at night," she says, "Very Wes Anderson."
The cut-and-pastiness of the night was super Wes Anderson, and most everyone was in giggle fits over making dioramas or posing for silly pictures. At the woodland forest photo booth, we talked to a couple DMNS staffers who told us that the whole shebang was wheeled down from their new Bear Necessities Field Trip Adventure. The target age group for that program? Pre-K to 2nd grade. So why was it so popular with all these grown ups? Come on. Give anyone a couple beers and then try to keep them out of a bear costume.
Team Backbeat made an embarrassing contribution to the wonderful world of mini diorama art, which we will spare you as an act of mercy. Suffice to say it ignored the laws of time travel and physics, and a dinosaur was definitely hanging out with a monkey in Antarctica. Because after all, as our new pal Dori said, "I have a glue gun, so I can do whatever I want!"
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