Museums in the United States are quiet, personal experiences. If we have shared experiences, they tend to only happen during group tours during a question and answer session. So it was to my great surprise to see chatting encouraged at the Natural History Museum "Lates" event. Many small group clusters congregated around the bar, chatting and laughing amongst their friends. There was a musician in the corner playing music for others eating in a makeshift dining area. It was baffling to me to see that this grand, expansive museum essentially turned into a backdrop for a restaurant bar. Baffling, sure, but also exciting at the prospect of the forbidden. Not only was eating and drinking encouraged, but it seemed as if the organizers of this event genuinely wanted patrons to enjoy themselves in a fun social way rather than an educational way normally experienced. While out of my normal realm, it was easy to assimilate to this culture and become part of the spectacle.
In between imbibing and looking at the exhibits, I did manage to make a few observations during the outing. First, it seems like the British are "less precious" with their artifacts than in the States. While there were some encased in glass, more artifacts were out in the open, just an arms length away. Second, the British patrons who I encountered were just as obsessed with being part of "the scene" as Americans are. Every few feet, I saw snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook open with pictures and videos being posted. Although I'm finding the stereotype that British people are more reserved to be absolutely true, it is nice to see social media documentation cross all cultures and borders.
Lastly, I noticed an abnormally high amount of children at the event. While it seems like The Natural History Museum is geared towards children with their child friendly exhibits, I didn't expect to see as many as I did. With the inclusion of alcohol, I expected mostly adults, but it was nice to see the kids were as enthusiastic--if not more so--than the adults. Who knows, maybe it was just because they were up past their bedtime.