The 2006 Ben Stiller movie Night at the Museum sparked kids' interest in visiting museums and perhaps even staying overnight. The 2009 release of Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian further fueled interest in museum sleepovers. New York City's American Museum of Natural History launched its A Night at the Museum sleepover program in 2007, and it's still so popular that available dates are frequently sold out. What are parents, teachers, scout leaders and other group field trip organizers to do? Easy! There are several New England museums that host educational and fun overnights, too.
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Did you know that Battleship Cove--a Massachusetts museum that is home to the world's largest collection of naval ships--has been hosting group overnights on a historic battleship since 1972? Scout groups especially enjoy these Nautical Nights, which feature opportunities to explore the vast Battleship Massachusetts and to learn about its workings. Kids get to have dinner and breakfast in the Officers' Wardroom and to meet veterans. They also receive free admission to the entire museum complex.
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At the Museum of Science in Boston, overnight stays make science entertaining. Kids will have an unforgettable evening participating in hands-on experiments, watching demonstrations and an Omni film, exploring museum exhibits and attending a Theater of Electricity Lightning! show before drifting off to sleep beneath a giant grasshopper or a dinosaur. The program is designed for organized groups of 10 or more students in grades 1 through 7.
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On Friday and Saturday evenings year-round, the Children's Museum of New Hampshire in Dover, New Hampshire, hosts overnight camping visits for scout troops, schools, and other groups. The affordably priced program, which is available for groups of at least 60 people, features hands-on activities, an evening snack, and Continental breakfast. Kids will enjoy exploring the museum's interactive exhibits, which include a dino dig site and an aircraft construction station.
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Spend an unforgettable night aboard the 1882 square-rigged sailing ship Joseph Conrad. The Anchor Watch Overnight Youth Group Program at Connecticut's Mystic Seaport starts with an evening walk through the museum's 19th-century village. Then, choose from a variety of evening activities such as a planetarium show or making sailors' crafts. After breakfast at the Galley Restaurant, climb the ship's rigging or explore this living history museum's many buildings and exhibits. Overnights can be scheduled Friday or Saturday, March through May and September through November.
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At the Ecotarium in Worcester, Massachusetts, school, scout and other youth groups can have this indoor-outdoor museum to themselves for a night of exploration. "Night Journeys" feature an up-close animal encounter, hands-on activities, a digital planetarium show and the chance to "camp" among the exhibits. Choose from four different themes ranging from Astronomy to Sea Creatures. Smaller groups can participate in special Girls' Night Out or Boys' Night Out overnight adventures.
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The New Children's Museum in West Hartford, Connecticut, can accommodate groups of up to 100 for its Overnight Experience programs. The minimum number of participants is 60. Designed particularly for scout groups and available on select Friday and Saturday nights, these overnight stays feature science activities, time to explore the museum and a snack and a Science Dome planetarium show before bedtime, plus breakfast and more time to explore in the morning.
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When the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vermont, closes for the night, adventures begin for scout, school and youth groups. Designed for students in first grade through middle school, Camp-Ins are available October through May and feature indoor and outdoor activities. When campers awake, they can spend the entire next day exploring the museum if they'd like, and they receive free passes for return visits, too.