Local Life

Culture is illuminated after dark

Zoo, museums offer evening events for adults

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Visit Denver’s cultural hot spots like the Denver Zoo or Museum of Nature & Science during a summer day and you’ll see children of all ages running around everywhere.

While it’s always fun to experience Denver’s many cultural amenities as a family, just as many adults want to explore on their own. Maybe, even, while having a drink or two.

“Adults want the opportunity to learn, too,” said Jessa Phillips, the Museum of Nature & Science’s adult programs manager. “Because of that, the museum offers experiences that offer an adult night out.”

When facilities like the zoo, museum, Museum of Contemporary Art and more shut down after regular hours, that doesn’t mean they’re closed. Instead, they offer specialty programming that provides more depth, entertainment and a different kind of community.

“This is a different angle of the zoo than most people see when we’re open and full of crowds,” said Jake Kubié, communications manager with the Denver Zoological Foundation. “We want to make the zoo more accessible for adults and show that we are a place people can learn, explore and even have a date night.”

When it comes to after-hours activities, these facilities’ events mainly fall into two categories — series and one-offs.

The Museum of Nature & Science has a monthly Science Lounge series specifically for those who are 21 years old and older, featuring rotating topics and special drinks on the third Thursday of every month. Likewise, the zoo hosts the Watering Hole, an adult lecture series that features a unique theme, light appetizers and a cash bar.

The Museum of Contemporary Art has several after-hour programs during the summer, including the Three Things, Any Three Things series, which is an experiment in performance, lecture and music. There is also B-Side Music Fridays, a rooftop summer music series focused on presenting the best emerging Denver bands.

Finally, the museum works with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts to host Mixed Taste, which pairs two speakers, giving presentations on completely unrelated subjects, followed by questions from the audience on both topics at the same time.

“These after-hours events allow the museum to better integrate into people’s everyday life,” said Clayton Kenney, director of experience and strategy with the MCA. “They also help make MCA Denver a social gathering place, and not just a white box with objects on the walls.”

Then there are the special events that visitors have just one opportunity to participate in.

Such events include Do At The Zoo, which will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. on June 21, which allows attendees the chance to sample dishes from 70 of the city’s best restaurants and purveyors of the local craft beer, wine and spirits. Tickets include an open bar as well as live musical entertainment.

“We have tasting stations all over the zoo, so people can explore while they’re eating,” said Kubié. “This is a chance to engage with people on a different level. You can have a night out with dinner and get to see what the animals are like in the evenings. It’s the best of both worlds.”

The History Colorado Center is also getting in on the fun, hosting “Collecting America’s Passion” from 7 to 8 p.m. on July 16. The evening will explore the history and legacy of baseball and share stories behind some of the artifacts in the new Play Ball! exhibit.

And the Museum of Nature & Science has a changing line-up of after-hours programs that includes everything from an evening with astronaut Kjell Lindgren and audience-driven tours through space at the planetarium.

“The museum offers a lot for adults who want to get out,” Phillips said. “We’re a place where adults of all ages can explore.”

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