It’s My Party

Have you ever attended a special event at a museum, historic site or gallery that was not sponsored by the institution? Companies, organizations and individuals love to rent museum spaces for their events for a few reasons:

1. The space is more interesting than a outdated ballroom at a hotel or conference center;

2. The museum/historic site/gallery usually provides some level of built-in entertainment for the guests, as there are usually exhibits or activities to enjoy; and

3. It shows that the renting organization is interested in giving back to their community, culture and the arts. (And, they may even be able to write off a portion of the rental fee as a tax-free donation.)

Attending my husband’s business school graduation party at the
Museum of Science and Industry
–where I was still working–, 2008.

At the graduation party pictured above, the exhibits were open, docents gave tours of the Coal Mine and the Ice Cream Parlor gave out free ice cream. I had attended a lot of Museum parties (and crashed a few others…hehe) but I had never actually been invited to an outside organization’s event at MSI. It was an interesting experience–especially since I kept running into coworkers who were working at the event!

The organization (The University of Chicago Graduate School of Business) probably chose the location in part because 1. it’s in the neighborhood, 2. they needed a space that could accommodate hundreds of people, and 3. MSI is fun!

But individuals can rent space, too.

Original by Heejin Ryu (altered)

Ah, there’s the husband! As I briefly mentioned in an earlier post, our wedding reception was held at the Des Moines Art Center. The exhibits were closed, as you can see (the poster on the wall is actually on the door to the large, temporary exhibit gallery), but there was still plenty to enjoy.

Original by Heejin Ryu (altered)

I think our guests had fun. 😉


Original by Heejin Ryu (altered)



Original by Heejin Ryu (altered)

The always beautiful reflecting pool at the Des Moines Art Center.

Sometimes outside events can cause problems. A few years ago, a few events made headlines because event guests caused damage, such as Martinifest, held at the Milwaukee Art Museum (in 2006.) And, since space rentals provide much needed income, the curatorial staff may need to work around parameters provided by the special events staff (try moving this on a regular basis so they can put a bar there and you’ll see what I really mean.) But, when it came to the graduation party, <I believe> nothing was harmed or mistreated and regarding our wedding, I’m sure every museum would love to have a handful of experienced artifact handlers in the crowd!

So back to my original question – have you ever attended a special event at a museum that was hosted by an outside organization?

4 thoughts on “It’s My Party

  1. Wow, indeed! Looks like a fun wedding.

    My friend had a party for the premier of her documentary at the Chicago Art Institute, and it added more than a touch of class, gravitas and braininess to the proceedings. I had a great time.

  2. Pingback: Architecture: Des Moines Art Center | Museum Minute

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