“I just think it’s going to be so much fun,” said Allison Speer, Tellus’ general science program manager, who will portray one of the event’s Mad Scientists. “There’s such a fabulous energy throughout the entire museum. People get so excited and it really is kind of a magical experience. You get to feel like you’re part of something, almost surreal. It’s just such a fun event.
“... We love to entertain. That’s definitely such a huge part of it for the ‘Night at the Museum,’ but it’s also really exciting when people think, ‘That wasn’t just fun or that wasn’t just magic, but that was science.’ It’s an opening for some kids and even some adults that may not have had such a great experience with science. ... They can see that science is fun. It’s exciting, but again, like I said, we just really want to entertain the folks with some of these fun things that we do.”
As a Mad Scientist, Speer will try to educate and inspire future scientists.
“There’s going to be several of us that are doing the Mad Scientists. That’s always a lot of fun, because we get to play off of each other,” Speer said. “We’re going to do some things with electromagnets. We’re going to have a little laser demonstration, and we’re going to do some things with chemistry that seem a little magical, I think — kind of surprising outcomes when we’re mixing chemicals together. So those are some of the highlights of what we’re going to be doing.
“I get to be involved in so many things here at the museum and I have to say that ‘Night at the Museum’ is definitely one of my favorite events, because we have a theater full of not just kids but adults. And [the children] are so much fun. They are so engaged in everything that we do. They laugh at our ridiculous little jokes. They are so excited when they see something happen. They think it’s amazing. Their energy makes the show for us because they get so excited. It just feeds it for us. So something maybe we’ve done over and over and over again, to do it in front of an audience ... does kind of seem magical.”
Opened in January 2009, Tellus — an expansion of the former Weinman Mineral Museum — became a Smithsonian affiliate during its debut year. Encompassing 120,000 square feet at 100 Tellus Drive in Cartersville, the museum is comprised of four main galleries — The Weinman Mineral Gallery, The Fossil Gallery, Science in Motion and The Collins Family My Big Backyard hands-on science gallery — a 120-seat digital planetarium and an observatory. The museum welcomed its millionth visitor March 27.
During “Night at the Museum,” actors portraying historic and science fiction figures, ranging from Amelia Earhart to Iron Man, will engage museum patrons in conversation. Patrons 12 and younger are encouraged to dress in character for the event and participate in an Instagram photograph competition.
“We are an educational facility and we like to celebrate education as much as possible,” said Shelly Redd, director of marketing for Tellus Science Museum. “With the kids going back to school, we want them to see that as a positive time, not a negative time. And, of course, we [promote] science education through ‘Night at the Museum.’ We’ll have [actors portraying] historical characters on-site that will teach about our different exhibits as well as some pop science characters that teach us how science is relevant in their quote-unquote lives, like Captain America and Iron Man and even ‘The Flintstones’ and Indiana Jones. Each actor has [prepared] a little bit of a script, so they’ll be able to teach about how science was relevant to what they do and why science was important to them and if they’re standing at a particular exhibit, how that particular exhibit was influential in what they did in their lives.
“... We have somewhere between 70 and 80 characters, so it’s hard to get a photograph of all the characters at one time. So at the top of every hour, which will be 7 o’clock, 8 o’clock and 9 o’clock, we’ll bring all the characters together and they’ll do a great big parade around the Great Hall. It’s the best opportunity for people to get a photograph of all the characters and just to kind of see all the characters together.”
Tickets for the event, which are $10 for members and $20 for non-members, can be purchased by calling 770-606-5700, ext. 431. For more information about the museum and its events and programs, visit http://tellusmuseum.org.