I used to live directly across the street from the Carnegie Museum of Art while I was going to college. Living there was magical. At night, as I did my homework I could watch fancy parties in the museum’s glass lobby. There was a fountain that made soothing noises in the afternoon and every evening at dusk, a film about animals in human habitats (“Migration” by Doug Aitken) played in a loop on the museums façade.
What I’m getting at, is that museums are calming, have perfect lighting, smell interesting and are good for your well-being. If you agree, then you’ll be pleased to know that museums across the country (and the world!) offer overnight adventures for families, school groups and scouts.
I got to sleep in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (which is attached to the Carnegie Art Museum) when I was in girl scouts—right by the grizzly bear! It’s always been a nice memory, even if I wasn’t too fond of being in girl scouts at the time.
I couldn’t find a current overnight program at the Carnegie Museums online, but here is a smattering of other awesome overnights that look especially awesome!
• The American Museum of Natural History in New York City hosts the extremely popular “A Night at the Museum” sleepover every month or so. This museum is the setting of the film, “Night at the Museum,” so it should be extra appealing for all the young cinephiles out there.
At “A Night at the Musuem” kids get to explore the museum with flashlights, watch an amazing IMAX film about the planet, experience a live animal show and sleep next to one of the famous and beautiful exhibits.
The cost is 129 dollars per person with discounts for museum members and scouts. Although it might stretch your budget a bit, this enchanting experience will save you the cost of staying at a New York hotel (if you’re visiting). I recommend going to the city for a day two days and sleeping at the museum as a family in between!
• The St. Louis Science Center St. Louis, MO offers many different themed camp-ins throughout the year. You can fall asleep under the stars in the planetarium at an astronomy camp-in; attend a New Year’s Eve camp-in; a spooky science Halloween camp-in and so much more!
The Science Center camp-ins vary in price from 38 to 70 dollars per person for specialty sleepovers and all feature an OMNIMAX film, an Amazing Science demonstration, hands-on activities and free time exploring the galleries! The kids also get souvenir patches to take home!
Each program focuses on topics like biodiversity, animal evolution, and habitat preservation with live animal demonstrations and activities. Family nights cost 35 dollars per nonmember. The other programs require at least 15 participants, including chaperones, and also cost 35 dollars per person (teachers bringing school groups stay for free!)
All four programs look super cool, but Sleep with the Manatees would be my choice, because the kids get to fall asleep watching the manatees swim right next to them!
• The Tacoma Art Museum in Tacoma, WA is hosting its first ever sleepover on June 18th! The sleepover is based on the current, “Secret Language of Animals” exhibit, which explores the relationships between humans and animals through artwork from the last 250 years!
At the sleepover, kids will explore the galleries and make art projects, including a spinning nightlight, before settling down to sleep among cultural treasures. The cost is 125 dollars for children who aren’t members and 50 dollars for accompanying adults.
Art museums with overnight programs are rare, so hopefully this will be the first of many at the Tacoma Art Museum!
• The Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium in Times Square is the perfect overnight experience for particularly unique children that love learning freaky, gross and fascinating facts!
Scout groups and families can make reservations to sleep in the Odditorium, go on a weird flashlight scavenger hunt and play laser tag! They’ll discover mummies, historical oddities, hissing roaches and many other shocking things among the 20 galleries in the Ripley’s Odditorium.
The cost is 115 dollars for each participant. And although it sounds a bit gimmicky, this thorough article by a participant claims that the extreme sleepovers are surprisingly interesting!
This has been the fifth and final installment of the Sleepover Guide. So good night and sweet dreams! If you missed the rest you can catch up with Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four! Thanks to Tom Little for the photo of the Carnegie Art Museum. Other photos are from the American Museum of Natural History, Wikipedia and Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium (in that order).