On a chilly night in November, party-goers traded their pea coats for lab coats at the door of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. The costume change has become tradition at the museum's Mad Scientist Ball, the annual night of hair-raising fun and fundraising.
For the 2019 edition, organizers cleverly chose the theme "Back to the Future" and parked a rad Delorean Time Machine replica from the hit 1985 movie out front. They were going "back to the future" to celebrate the Museum School's 70th anniversary and the Legorreta Building's 10th anniversary. (How can the "new building" be 10 years old already?)
Properly attired in their lab coats, guests were given a guide to the night's activities, as the mega-gala spreads out through multiple rooms on two floors of the museum. Many fueled up right away on a cocktails served in colorful, blinky-light cups.
Those who wanted to hit the food stations first had their pick of noshes from more than a dozen top chefs and restaurants in Fort Worth. Among the hits were pork rillette with blackberry champagne jam from Abe Froman's; rattlesnake-rabbit sausage from Woodshed Smokehouse; and Job's Tears pozole from Righteous Foods.
Sufficiently stuffed, attendees made their way through the event's signature, awe-inspiring Mad Scientist experiments. They could feel their hair standing on end with a static electricity demonstration, create their own little monster while learning about exothermic reactions, and sample frosty Brandy Alexanders made as part of a drinkable science experiment involving liquid nitrogen.
Upstairs, guests could explore space during a Noble Planetarium show and try leading their own mission in a control room-artifact from Johnson Space Center. Across the foyer in the Havener Gallery, they could get their first taste the forthcoming, mind-bending theater experience called V-DROME, set to replace the longtime Omni Theater when it opens in coming years.
The Cattle Raisers Museum provided a non-science alternative and a way to learn about the region's ranching history without the crowds during normal museum hours.
Back downstairs, roving magician Brian Masters was thrilling with his sleight of hand, and Anthony Dempsey was reading minds. The atrium filled to the brim when the comedians from Fort Worth's favorite improv troupe, Four Day Weekend, took the stage. Some good-natured audience members battled it out in the group's song lyric challenge, which had the whole room belting out their favorite '80s hits.
When the laughs ended, the music began. Gala-goers got to dance the night away to music by Adrian Garza — also properly outfitted in a white lab coat.
They took the final hours to visit the attractions they'd missed earlier — like soaring high in a Lockheed Martin flight simulator, experiencing virtual reality, or playing old-school games reconstructed digitally in the Imaginer Studio.
At the end of the night, guests picked up their own coats again, along with a gift that wins the award for most on-theme party favor: An '80s-style Rubik's Cube with the museum's logo. Tubular.
The annual Mad Scientist Ball is the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History's biggest fundraiser, which supports its mission to engage the community through creative, vibrant programs and exhibitions.