Does your kid’s curiosity sometimes surprise even you? Is he more interested in exoskeletons than X-box? If you’re searching for the perfect venue to celebrate your little explorer’s birthday where she can step into a bug’s shoes, party with dinosaurs and mummify her friends, look no further. Read on to find out how Chicago’s Field Museum offers a birthday party experience that’s as special as they are.
How ’bout those birthday parties?
We all know that The Field is home to SUE, the largest and most well-preserved T-Rex ever found, but it’s a little known fact that they also host birthday bashes for kids from one year to pre-teens, using different spaces within the museum to make each party age-appropriate. The Art Studio in the Crown Family PlayLab is the perfect place for little ones to explore, or set up camp in Rice Hall, home to the world famous man-eating Tsavo lions, for more experienced adventurers.
What’s included in my package?
All-day museum admission is included for up to 15 kids and 15 adults in the small party package and for up to 25 kids and 25 adults in the large party package, as well as access to the super-cool “Underground Adventure” exhibit where you can step into a bug’s (12) shoes and learn about the ecosystem under our feet. You’ll get two hours in a reserved space, where the kids can enjoy doing a craft and, of course, the usual birthday festivities (cake and ice cream, anyone?). All this AND a free parking space for you, which almost makes it feel like your birthday too!
Also included is a “personal party host,” who will work with you to create an unforgettable and seamless day for you and your special adventurer. This birthday party fairy will meet you at your car to help transport items to the party space, set up, decorate, assist with the craft, answer any questions you or your guests may have and remain with your party until every last leftover paper cup is loaded into your car.
What if I want to feed these animals?
For an additional cost, the museum’s on-site caterer will work with you to create a meal package that includes a snack, main course, drinks and something sweet. Alternatively you can bring in your own dessert or work with their caterer to create a custom birthday cake. Mummy – er, yummy!
Customize the adventure
In case you’re already thinking invitations and decorations, your child can choose from one of three party themes: Ancient Egypt, Dinosaurs or Adventure. Your party host will guide the kids through one of three corresponding crafts, such as making an Egyptian cuff, dinosaur ornament or a safari hat. All three crafts represent the museum’s most popular areas and make a great automatic party favor — a welcome change (at least for the parents!) from the usual candy-stuffed goody bag.
Supersize the fun
Want more? The museum offers enhancement activities to make sure no stone is left unturned by your future archaeologist. Add tickets to one of the museum’s temporary exhibitions or book a special presentation by a Field Museum bug expert if the birthday boy or girl is into creepy crawlies (and you have the stomach to sit through it).
Stacy Fleming, whose son, Ian had his sixth birthday bash at the museum, worked with her party host and the museum’s Educational Team to create a special activity about Egyptian mummies. “The educator brought a human-sized stuffed dummy and the kids got to pretend to take out the organs, put them in canopic jars, and then wrap the mummy (and their friends) with cloth. It was awesome!” said Stacy.
To make the most of your all-day admission, you can choose to enhance your experience by taking a guided tour through the museum’s permanent exhibits or make a game of it with a fun self-guided scavenger hunt. Done solo, in pairs or as a large group, the 1-1.5 hour hunt takes guests through the museum’s permanent collections and is a fantastic way for kids and adults alike to learn something new about a lot of old things.
Sounds good. How much?
Parties are offered daily with two time slots to choose from: 10 a.m.-noon or 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (but remember, all-day admission is included). Base cost for a small party package is $500 and $800 for the large party package (but did we mention that all-day admission for up to 50 people is included?) and enhancement costs vary. Bonus: Museum members get 10% off the cost of the party!
Have you ever attended or held a birthday party at The Field Museum? Let us know below!
— MaryKate Hickey
photos: courtesy of The Field Museum