Cincinnati Museum Center: Grown Up Night at the Museum

Cincinnati Museum Center: Grown Up Night at the Museum

Several years ago, Elizabeth Pierce, president and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center, sat with her colleagues brainstorming ideas for a unique fundraising event they could host that wouldn’t involve a sit-down gala. 

“We wanted to engage people in all parts of the building, and the team thought, ‘What if we do something within the layers of the building?’” Pierce says. As they began naming layers of food and drink, they conceived a framework that involved hosting a roving party where guests could explore all parts of the Union Terminal building, moving across both space and time. So in 2019, they hosted “Layers of Wonder,” which was wildly successful. This year on November 19, they celebrate “Layers of Creativity,” their second annual party with a purpose.

“The building is full of different creative elements, and certainly some of our exhibits help us dive deeper into creative thinking,” Pierce says. “It’s “Night at the Museum” come to life!”

“Layers of Creativity” starts at 7 p.m. and is open to anyone who wants to attend. You don’t need an invitation or museum membership to purchase tickets. All-inclusive general admission tickets are $225, but early bird tickets are available through October 19 for $175. Premium tickets are available for $250, including one-hour early admission, VIP access and exclusive behind-the-scenes experiences. All tickets include food, drinks, entertainment and access to CMC’s three museums, permanent galleries and

special exhibitions. 

Since the “Layers of Wonder” event, CMC has added four more permanent exhibitions to the science and history museums. It also includes “Borrowed Gems from the Taft Museum of Art” which showcases 47 artworks from their impressive collection. 

The Children’s Museum will also be open that evening but themed toward adult learning and play. Guests can also walk through Ice Age Gallery, an exhibit that contains an icy cave and animals and plants from the era. For the event, PNC Bank is sponsoring The Children’s Museum, and Kroger is the creative cocktail sponsor for the evening. 

All proceeds from the event support Champion More Curiosity, a museum campaign that started five years ago. Currently, they have raised a little more than $68 million toward their $85 million goal.

“We want people to be able to enjoy the museum in a relaxed setting when they are not necessarily chasing around their kids,” Pierce says. “They can have cocktails and nibbles with friends and just celebrate Cincinnati.”

While the event is focused on adults aged 21 or older, the fun spans generations. During their last event, Scott Schuster, vice president of philanthropy, recalls seeing a 94-year-old cutting a rug on the dance floor in the rotunda. “There truly is something for everyone,” he says.

While some people want to explore every inch of the exhibits, others socialize or dance the night away. “It’s five hours at your own pace to do what you want to do,” Schuster says.

“Layers of Creativity” is an excellent opportunity for people to view the museum center differently and in a unique atmosphere.

“There’s something to be said when you tour the museum with the lights turned down,” Schuster says. “You get a different feel in the evening from the moonlight coming into the Dinosaur Hall than you get at 10 in the morning.”

The night will include tasty food stations and science opportunities throughout the building, as well as live music,

conversations with curators and paleontologists, and a series of unforgettable moments. “Think of it as a school carnival on steroids!” says Pierce. 

The 2019 fundraiser celebrated a recent restoration of the

museum. More than 650 attended, and more than $165,000 was raised. “I had trustees who came to make an appearance and wound up staying until midnight when we shut down!” says Pierce. “It was such

a fun night.”

In 2020, CMC was anticipating another successful night with over 1,000 guests until the pandemic scrapped those plans. “We were planning our next event, thinking of new ideas and all of these exciting things to come on board, and then COVID happened,” Schuster says. “Now that we’re moving forward through COVID-19, this is a sort of reopening to the public. We’re excited as, once again, we have a lot of new things to share. Plus, many of our guests have not been back since the pandemic started, so this is an opportunity to show off a little bit.”

CMC is anticipating a large crowd this year, and they can accommodate a large party due to their ample space, both in the iconic rotunda and their refreshed exhibition spaces. 

“This is a great opportunity to engage with other passionate

museum-goers,” Pierce says. He said many guests who attended the past event ended up purchasing a membership because they were excited about all the museum offers.

“We are all “Zoomed” out. We’ve been involved in too many

remote conversations this year. Now is a great time to get your teams back together again, and this is an ideal way to do it,” says Pierce. “From a corporate team-building standpoint, this is a fun way to benefit them while also supporting an icon in the community.”

The Cincinnati Museum Center is located at 1301 Western Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio 45203. For more information, visit or call 513-287-7000.

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