A night at the museum: Dozin' with the Dinos

Story Image

the parenting column ·

Some childhood experiences are so rich, so extraordinary and so inimitable that they are etched into our long-term memory well into adulthood. Spending the night at The Field Museum for the Dozin' with the Dinos program provides children with an adventure that they won't soon forget.

Children ages six to twelve will spend the evening visiting stations scattered around the grand Stanley Field Hall, where Sue-the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurs Rex ever discovered-dominates over onlookers. Kids have the amazing opportunity to learn from real scientists and museum volunteers as they dissect owl pellets to look for undigested bones, examine real dinosaur fossils, hold a hairy tarantula or create dream catchers out of beads and string. Exploring the popular museum without daytime crowds turns the museum into a magical, expansive and peaceful wonderland for a select few.

"I work with kids as a math teacher and I come here all the time with my students. I love The Field Museum and volunteering at the overnights," said Melissa Quick, volunteer and field ambassador for The Field Museum. "There are museum scientists, contractors and volunteers on the floor, helping kids with activities and cultural projects and running around the museum to make sure everything works smoothly."

One of the highlights is the self-guided tour that kids and caretakers get to take through the Ancient Egypt exhibit. The lights go out, the flashlights go on and, if you're not too scared, you can walk by ancient hieroglyphs, artifacts and mummies-one of the largest collections in America.

Bedtime stories spoken in the shadows of the Maori House, a large meetinghouse originally built in 1881, with hundreds of intricate faces carved in the wood, top off the night. Children in footed pajamas listen intently as the narrator tells stories of heroic triumphs of animals and primeval man.

Afterward, guests make their way to their designated camping spots in one of the exhibition halls. The lights are turned off, the whole museum is unbelievably silent and everyone falls asleep. Nestling under ancient artifacts or in the Genius Hall of Dinosaurs is nothing short of incredible.

Early the next morning it's business as usual as the normal museum sounds and illumination operate on queue. After a continental breakfast, everyone makes their way out of the museum, with sleeping bags and suitcases in hand, and the disbelief that they just spent the night in one of Chicago's most visited and loved museums.