Museum Nights: Block pARTy combines Florida Museum of Natural History, Harn Museum of Art, and Philips Center for Performing Arts in a single event

BY GABRIELLA WITKOWICH, Alachua Chronicle Correspondent

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Don’t be tardy to the block party. The Florida Museum of Natural History, the Harn Museum of Art, and the Phillips Center for Performing Arts are collectively hosting a “Museum Nights: Block pARTy” event for the first time. 

This event will take place on Aug. 11, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Through this event, participants will be able to enjoy music, food, galleries, and exhibits for free. 

Eric Segal is the director of education and curator of academic programs at the Harn Museum, which hosts monthly Museum Nights. Segal said that the Harn Museum, the Florida Museum of Natural History, and the Phillips Center for Performing Arts have worked together for past events, but this is the first time all three facilities are collaborating. 

All galleries at the Harn Museum will be open and there will be optional tours available, Segal said. Visitors will have an opportunity to experience making a screen print on a T-shirt or tote bag that will be provided at the event. The graphic print features an image of the enormous red/orange sculpture at the Cultural Plaza, Big Max. Big Max was created by the artist John Henry, who is well-known as the creator of the “French Fries” at Marston Library, Segal said. 

In the rotunda of the Harn Museum, the Phillips Center for Performing Arts will perform a radio play of the “Maltese Falcon.” The “Maltese Falcon” is a 1930s detective novel, later made into a movie starring Humphrey Bogart. 

The Imposters, a local cover band, will be in the auditorium of the Harn Museum. The Imposters were formed in 1984 and include musicians Michael Derry, Mike Boulware, Don David, Ron Thomas, Brad Bangstad, and Rob Rothschild. 

Segal estimates this event will range anywhere from 500 to 700 people; however, it depends on the weather. There will be free parking after 3 p.m. on the day of the event at UF’s Cultural Plaza. 

The event will be catered by Fat G’s BBQ and B’z Gelati, with free food for a limited time. The food trucks will stay for the entirety of the event, and participants will be able to purchase food. The food trucks will be located in the parking lot of the Harn Museum. 

“We think it’s a wonderful chance for the community and University to enjoy an event together,” Segal said.

Catherine Carey is the education programs coordinator at the Museum of Natural History. This event includes access to the gift shop and the natural history exhibits, with the exception of the Fantastic Fossils exhibit and the Butterfly Rainforest. 

The three facilities are all working together, and each have various parts and activities, Carey said. Participants will be able to flow from one museum to the other and participate in fun activities in between.

“The Cultural Plaza is one of Gainesville’s hidden gems,” Carey said. “We hope we can attract new people to our facilities as well as providing something fun for the entire community.”

Daniel Paluh, a postdoctoral researcher at the Florida Museum of Natural History, specializes in frogs and will lead the frog walk from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. This is an activity that will allow participants to investigate biodiversity behind the Florida Museum of Natural History in the nature area teaching laboratory. Paluh said it is likely that participants will be able to see at least 10 different species of frogs that are native to Florida. The trails could be wet and dark, so it is recommended that participants dress appropriately and bring headlights or flashlights. 

The Phillips Center for Performing Arts could not be reached for comment.