Courtesy National Packard Museum
Published March 09, 2017
The very word conjures up something sort of special, exclusive, VIP. After the Akron Zoo closes to the public for the day, groups can get up close to many animals that are more active at night.
When the Dayton Art Institute shuts its doors for the evening, it opens up possibilities for private-event guests to have the galleries all to themselves. When the Armstrong Air and Space Museum turns off the lights, groups find themselves in a sea of stars.
Here are some distinctive options for memorable after-hours events in cities and towns throughout Ohio.
National Packard Museum
The first Packard automobile was built in Warren in 1899. At the city’s National Packard Museum, visitors can see Packards spanning the manufacturer’s history, from a 1900 Model B, the company’s earliest known production car, to the 1956 Packard Caribbean Hardtop, a model from the same year the last Packard rolled off the line in Detroit.
But its jewel is a 1937 Twelve Roadster that was donated to the museum in July. The car is “absolutely gorgeous and also totally top of line for that year,” said Christine Bobco, assistant director of operations for the museum. The glossy black sedan has a red pinstripe and gleaming red leather upholstery, and “people come in just to see that car sometimes.”
Groups can use the museum after hours for banquets, receptions and other events set among the historic cars. The Great Hall, which houses newer models from the Detroit years, can accommodate about 250 people for a seated meal or more for standing receptions. In the smaller Legacy Gallery, visitors will find earlier models, including some that were made at the Warren factory between 1899 and 1903. Groups often use the space to complement the larger Great Hall; for example, setting up cookie tables or a silent auction in the Legacy Gallery and having their meal in the Great Hall, Bobco said. Out back, a large, fenced courtyard is ideal for event tents, food trucks and barbecues.
Armstrong Air and Space Museum
Not many meeting spaces give groups a chance to ride in a replica lunar rover or try their hand at docking the Gemini VIII spacecraft. At the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, hometown of astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, visitors can do both and more.
For after-hours events, groups can rent the entire museum or use designated spaces. The Modern Space Gallery can seat 50 people for meals, and in the 80-person, domed Astro Theater, groups can enjoy a projection of the night sky, watch a movie about the Eagle’s descent to the moon or use it for presentations, speakers and other films. The museum also has a party room for about 25 and an outdoor covered pavilion that can seat about 100.
Groups can take guided tours, or the center can have docents stationed among the galleries, said Christopher Moynihan, director of programming and education. Visitors will see two of Armstrong’s space suits: one he wore for 11 hours while in the Gemini VIII capsule, and the other was one of his two Apollo spacesuits; each of the Apollo suits weighed 190 pounds on Earth but only 32 pounds on the moon.
The museum also houses the Gemini VIII space capsule, as well as a moon rock from the Apollo 11 moon landing. Guests can try three flight simulators: lunar landing, shuttle landing or Gemini VIII spaceship docking. Planners can arrange to have the replica lunar rover on display outside or even offer guests short rides, weather permitting.
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