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November 13, 2009 - "Museum After Dark" Celebrates the Wonders of Colorado

What: Annual fall celebration and fundraiser

Where: Denver Museum of Nature & Science

When: Friday, November 13, 2009

Time: 6:30-11 p.m.

Beneficiary: Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Co-Chair(s): Tim & Kathryn Ryan

Committee Members: Lisa Appel, Christina Bearman Von Wald, Katie Behnke, Emily Carpenter, Monty Cleworth, Peter Dea, Martha Freeman, John Freyer, Charles Green, Lauren Henry, Heidi Hoyt, Angela Innes, Mary Pat Link, Frances Mahoney, Anne McCarthy, Pam Powell, Kristin Strohm Reid, Becky Stevens, Jeni Stevens, Sonnie Talley, Charlene Willey

President(s): George Sparks

Catering: Denver Museum of Nature & Science Event & Catering Services

Entertainment: DMNS dioramas and Genghis Khan exhibit

Music: Train 45

Sponsors: Presenting sponsor: Ryan Exploration, Inc.; "Rocky Mountain" sponsor: Haselden Construction, LLC; "Bighorn" sponsors: Cordillera Energy Partners LLC, Mike Leprino Family Foundation, Mary Pat Link & John Strohm, Pioneer Natural Resources; and 41 additional sponsoring companies, organizations and individuals

Menu: Haystack Mountain Salad: mixed field greens topped with candied walnuts, cranberries, sliced Western Slope apples and goat cheese, served with a roasted-shallot vinaigrette; Colorado Surf and Turf: Braised buffalo short ribs on a sage polenta cake, paired with baked, mushroom-stuffed rainbow trout; Rocky Mountain Dessert Trio: Peach and huckleberry crumble, chocolate mousse in crispy phyllo cup with caramel sauce drizzle, and molasses gingerbread with strawberry marmalade

Attendance: 600

Attire: Cocktail and/or attire representing each guest's favorite Colorado activity

Special Thanks: Silent-auction donors


Event Coordinator: Tracy Glass-McKenna, development events coordinator

Board of Directors: Sue Anschutz-Rodgers, Lisa Appel, Pamela D. Beardsley, Montgomery C. Cleworth, Anthony M. Combs, James H. Crocker, Peter Dea, John A. Ferguson III, John E. Freyer, Francisco Garcia, Charles R. Hazelrigg, Nancy Leprino Henry, Oliver W. Hickel III, Wayne Hutchens, Christine Johnson, Walter A. Koelbel Jr., Mary Pat Link, Harold R. Logan Jr., Anne McCarthy, Carrie Morgridge, Timothy M. Ryan, Mark Sexton, Eric D. Sipf, Thomas W. Swanson, Sondra M. Talley, M. Ray Thomasson, Dell Van Gilder Jr., Edward M. Warner

Blacktie Photos by: Lisa Perry

 Tim and Kathryn Ryan, event co-chairs, with DMNS president and CEO George Sparks
Tim and Kathryn Ryan, event co-chairs, with DMNS president and CEO George Sparks

Defying snow showers and Friday the 13th superstitions, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science's fifth annual "Museum After Dark" gala not only captured the essence of the organization, but also provided a great time for 600 partygoers. This year's event showcased the museum’s permanent collection, specifically Colorado-themed dioramas. Rumor has it that co-chair Tim Ryan came up with the fun-focused “cocktail and/or your favorite Colorado pastime” attire guidelines—primarily because he didn’t want to get dressed up. Shortly after invitations went out, organizers knew it was a hit when guests began phoning to ask if they could wear ski boots with their cocktail dress. The result was a relaxed night with unique outfits and lots of laughter. It was also visual confirmation that guests not only support a museum that continually educates and entertains, they love to ski, play golf, climb rocks and hike in Colorado.

The evening began with a cocktail reception and a 90-item silent auction that activated an automatic “wow” response for off-the-beaten-path selections. In addition to museum-centered special experiences and one-of-a-kind items, bidders vied for getaways that included an astronaut-training session at the Kennedy Space Center, including lunch with an astronaut. With a focus on the museum’s “Edge of the Wild” displays, dinner tables were scattered among the dioramas, and some of the prehistoric Colorado scenes also displayed photos of the same sites today. Heather Hope, DMNS public relations manager, said, “We are really excited to feature the dioramas—they are a gem within the institution. People who come to visit that have grown up in Denver and spent time in the museum remember and appreciate them.” Other dining locations took advantage of the museum’s massive west-facing windows that captured gorgeous views of a snow-covered City Park and downtown Denver. The dessert buffet was a sumptuous ending to the museum’s Colorado-focused dinner menu, and many guests also made a beeline to peruse the fascinating Genghis Khan exhibit, here till mid-February. A strolling trio from Train 45 played cowboy tunes during the evening, and added band members after dinner to belt out music that crossed over into classic rock.

Museum After Dark has become an annual favorite, and this year exceeded expectations. “The event is so popular because it’s so unique,” said Hope. “You’re not in a ballroom, but dining in diorama halls and inside the museum. It’s been a great success.” Funds raised at Museum After Dark are directed toward the museum’s educational programs, scientific research and permanent collections. Those areas are primary to fulfilling the museum’s goal to “inspire curiosity and excite minds of all ages through scientific discovery, and the presentation and preservation of the world’s unique treasures.” For more information about the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, visit


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