One of the biggest thrills of my museum career, one that never gets old, is walking around inside an empty museum. Your imagination can run wild with the exhibitions and the solitude of the galleries without visitors allows you to appreciate the collection in an entirely different way.
When "Night at the Museum" first premiered I thought, of course, what a perfect idea for a children's movie! Moreover, the setting of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), where the galleries stuffed with dinosaurs, gems and a 94-foot blue whale was perfect.
Since then museums have capitalized on the experience by offering museum sleepovers for both children and adults. In 2014 when AMNH first offered a sleepover, the event sold out within hours, even with the hefty price tag of $350 per person.
Though AMNH's sleepover garnered the most media attention, other museums have hosted similar events before, most notably the Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art in New York. Their "Dream-over" invites guests to "sleep over at the Rubin beneath a favorite work of art under the compassionate and wakeful gaze of a hundred buddhas." Guests share the details of their dreams with qualified interpreters making this event a cross between art appreciation and personal development.
So which museums also have museum sleepovers? Here's a guide to some of the most popular sleepover events.
This museum sleepover doesn't show any signs of slowing down. Every time AMNH releases new dates, they sell out quickly, even with prices that exceed $375. There are separate sleepovers for kids and adults. Sleepovers for kids include tours, interactive events in the galleries and an IMAX movie. Adult sleepovers include a cocktail reception, live band and then free time to explore the empty galleries. Both events allow guests to roll out their sleeping bag in the Hall of Ocean Life and sleep under the giant blue whale.
To find out about the next date call 212-769-5200, Monday-Friday, 9am to 5pm or view the sleepover calendar on their website.
$145 per person for children, $350 for adults
$135 members, $300 for adult members
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024
Hours: Open daily from 10 am-5:45 pm except on Thanksgiving and Christmas
Londoners can take part in "Dino Snores" events at the Natural History Museum, London, also with unique events for children and adults. Kids make t-shirts, watch an educational science show and sleep in the galleries along side fossils. In the morning there is a live animal show before the Museum opens its doors for the day. Guests also receive a goody bag with dinosaur themed crafts and activities to take home.
Check the website for upcoming Dino Snores events or send an email to email@example.com.
Dino Snores for adults is particularly well suited for foodies. The Museum serves a three-course meal, hot breakfast and tasting sessions on the botanical ingredients that make gin. They also serve crunchy, edible insects!
You can listen to live music, hear a stand-up comic, take part in a treasure hunt and see an all-night monster movie marathon.
Get more information about the next event on their website.
The Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road London SW7 5BD
Open daily 10.00am-5.50pm Last entry 5.30pm
Closed 24-26 December -
The Hepworth Wakefield is a contemporary art museum in West Yorkshire, England. The Hepworth Sleepover is for children aged 5 to 12 accompanied by an adult chaperone. Compared to other sleepover events, this one is very reasonably priced at only Child £30 / Adult £15. (And museum admission is free year-round.)
The museum team will lead an evening of activities, sculpture sessions, music-making, storytelling and competitions with prizes. Guests should bring a packed supper, pajamas and a toothbrush. The next morning, guests rise early for a hot breakfast and a tour of the exhibitions before the gallery opens to the public.
The Hepworth Wakefield
Wakefield, West Yorkshire
T: +44 (0)1924 247360
10am - 5pm Tuesday - Sunday
Closed Mondays except local school holidays
and bank holidays
10am - 9pm Third Thursday of the month
The most popular museum sleepover on the west coast is Penguins & Pajamas at the California Academy of Sciences. (CalAcademy).
Kids explore the immersive exhibitions, the planetarium and then settle down to sleep next to the California Coast tank. Breakfast is in the Academy Cafe. And yes, there are live penguins at the museum.
$89 per person for members
$109 per person for non-members
- Overnight stay in one of our exhibit areas
- Live-animal demonstrations
- Osher Rainforest access until 8 pm
- Planetarium showings
- Evening snack and breakfast
- Overnight parking in Music Concourse Garage
- Next day admission to the Academy
Admission to Penguins+Pajamas sleepovers begins at 6 pm, and the event ends at 8 am the following day. Penguins+Pajamas is a program for children between the ages of 5 and 17; children must be accompanied by a chaperone who is 25 or older.
California Academy of Science
Golden Gate Park
55 Music Concourse Drive
San Francisco, CA 94118
The Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh as a robust schedule of Science Sleepovers with different themes throughout the year.
There's a Boys Only event focused on gaming, an Engineering Sleepover, Tropical Science Sleepover, Odd Squad Sleepver based on the PBS television show, Astronomy Sleepover, Camping, Sci-Fi, Forensic Science and a Matilda Sleepover for girls only.
The cost for all these events except Matilda is only $39 per person. Call 412.237.1637 to register.
Carnegie Science Center
One Allegheny Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Phone: 412 237 3400
Hours: Sunday - Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday 10am-7pm
This sleepover invites guests to solve a Smithsonian mystery. The Diva Miss Rose has stolen six objects that need to be found. You'll roam through the museum galleries looking for clues, take part in games, craft projects and experiments. After solving the "crime", roll out your sleeping bag in the galleries.
This event is for kids 8-12 only though each guest must also be accompanied by a chaperone.
National Museum of American History
National Mall, at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20560
Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except December 25.
To find out about upcoming sleepover events call 202-633-3030 or visit their website.
National Archives Museum, Washington D.C.
American history buffs rejoice! This sleepover at the National Archives Museum lets you spend the night in the Rotunda right next to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Crafted for kids ages 8-12 with an adult chaperone, guests learn about the founding fathers, government and history. The evening includes a movie and breakfast prepared by a real archivist along with other morning activities.
This event costs $100-125. Events sell out quickly and guests should register online.
National Archives Museum
700 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20408
Hours: Open seven days a week, 10am-5:30pm. Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
Exploration is the theme of Dozin With the Dinos, a sleepover for children at the Field Museum in Chicago. Lights dim and guests explore the galleries by flashlight. After games and educational activities, fall asleep to bedtime stories in front of the exhibitions.
Overnights are only available for families and groups with children ages 6-12. Call the overnight hotline at (312) 665-7525 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets are $60-65
Field Museum of Natural History
1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605-2496
Phone: (312) 922-9410
Hours: 9am – 5pm. Open every day except Christmas.
The Intrepid is a floating museum on an old aircraft carrier docked in the Hudson River on Manhattan's coast. Operation Slumber for families and organized youth groups offers educational activities, a tour of the Space Shuttle Pavilion, a flashlight tour of the deck, a ride in the flight simulator, snacks, breakfast and a goodie bag.
Space is limited and events tend to sell out quickly. Call 646-381-5010 or email email@example.com to reserve your spot today.
$120 ($99 for museum members at t the Family/Dual level and above)
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
W 46th St and 12th Ave
New York, NY 10036-4103
- April 1 - October 31
- Monday - Friday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
- Saturday, Sunday and Holidays: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
- November 1 - March 31st:
- Daily: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
- Closed Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day
ROMKids Sleepovers is described as "Toronto's ultimate backstage museum pass". Guests enjoy after-hours access to the galleries, a chance to speak with ROM experts, a screening of "Night at the Museum", craft, late night snack and "PJ" karaoke.
For children ages 5 and up. Adult (19+) supervision required (1 adult to 5 children). Families and groups of any size are invited to register. Cost is $70-80 and guests should register online.
Royal Ontario Museum
100 Queen’s Park, Toronto,
ON M5S 2C6
Hours: Monday to Thursday 10:00 am to 5:30 pm, Friday10:00 am to 8:30 pm, Saturday & Sunday 10:00 am to 5:30 pm, Fridays (Apr 29 - Jun 24)10:00 am to 6:30 pm