Art in the Dark: 8 Awesome After-Hours Museum Parties

Museums are national treasures. To visit a museum, be it for a casual visit or a fun scavenger hunt, is to commune with the natural history of the planet and the greatest cultural and artistic achievements of its peoples.

Museums are also a great place to party, dude! In the unending quest to reach more minds (and wallets), museums all around the country are throwing after-hours soirees, shindigs, and shenanigans for adults who like some culture with their wine. Here are a few of our favorites.


Franklin Institute Science After Hours, Philadelphia

Friends don’t let friends drink and science—unless they’re at Science After Hours. Every month, the Franklin Institute hosts a themed Tuesday night party (you can see one up top) with live experiments and demonstrations, games, cash bar, and some access to the museum. Upcoming themes include Prohibition, Harry Potter, and Friendsgiving.  One Tuesday a month, 7 to 10 pm.  $20 adults, $15 members, free for The Innovators. Age 21+


PMA Friday Nights, Philadelphia

Every Friday Night, the Philadelphia Museum of Art stays open late with live music, cocktails, snacks, and gallery access. And each month ends with a themed Final Friday, with live performances, make-your-own art, and more. And if you feel like learning—crazy, we knowthey’re even got guides on hand to dish about their favorite pieces.  Every Friday, 5 to 8:45 pm. Free after admission. All ages.


California Academy of Sciences NightLife, San Francisco

Open late every Thursday, the museum gives you the run of the entire museum, from planetarium to aquarium, as well as live music, cocktails, and special events.  Every Thursday, 6 to 10 pm. $15–$22 non-members,  $12–$18 members. Ages 21+


Exploratorium After Dark, San Francisco

Meanwhile, across town, get your hands on hundreds of interactive exhibits every Thursday Night at the Exploratorium. And while you’re at it, enjoy drinks, guest speakers, live music, unique activities, and more.  Every Thursday, 6 to 10 pm. $14–$18 in advance, $20 at the door, free for After Dark members. Age 18+

Liberty Science Center After Dark, Jersey City, NJ

Awesome After-Hours Museum Parties

On the third Thursday of the month, this usually kid-focused science museum just outside New York City throws open its doors for a grown-up dance party. With themes like Wine-o-Saurs and Whiskey in the Wild West, the science-minded shindig includes food, drink, music, dancing, live demos, and photo ops galore.  Third Thursday of the month, 6 to 10 pm.  $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Ages 21+  (Image courtesy of Liberty Science Center)

Brooklyn Museum First Saturdays, New York City

These festive evenings have drawn art lovers to this underrated art museum for 20 years now. On the first Saturday of most months, you get the run of galleries ranging from ancient Egyptian mummies to paint-just-dried contemporary works, along with special events, music, and dancing, all for no charge at all! The museum’s restaurant and cafe are open late too for food and drink.  First Saturday of the month, 5 to 11 pm. Free. All ages.


MFA Late Nites, Boston

Another occasional Friday event, Late Nites keep things lively at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, until 2 am. Now that’s a party. Explore the museum, meet local artists, make your own art, or just snack, drink, and dance—you’ve got all night, and then some.  Oct. 19, 8 pm to 2 am. $15 non-members in advance, $12 members in advance, $20 at the door. All ages.


AIC After Dark Initiative, Chicago

A few Fridays a year, the Evening Associates of the Art Institute of Chicago offer late-night access to the Modern Wing, with free snacks, a cash bar, and a special exhibition. The next After Dark event, in October, will feature Hairy Who, an exhibition of Chicago artists group that transformed the city’s art landscape.  Oct. 5, 2018, 9 pm to midnight. $35 adults, $25 members and students, $15 Evening Associates. Age 21+