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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Galas and Galleries

An art museum makes the perfect canvas for an event. After all, what’s more inspiring than being surrounded by creative masterpieces?

Art museum venues often feature contemporary and chic designs, while their galleries and sculpture gardens offer the perfect backdrop for supplemental meeting activities. Planners can impress their attendees with an off-site event, reception or meeting at one of these sophisticated art museums around the country.

Delaware Art Museum

Wilmington, Delaware

Known for its collection of Pre-Raphaelite art, one of the largest in the country, the Delaware Art Museum can trace its origins to 1912. Though originally built around the works of notable American illustrator Howard Pyle, the museum later added a prominent collection of works donated by the family of a Wilmington textile mill owner. Today, the museum features several art galleries and also highlights contemporary American artists.

The museum has eight event spaces available for rent, including traditional indoor spaces such as Fusco Hall, an elegant room with high ceilings and arched windows that can accommodate 150 banquet-style or 175 for receptions. East Court, another indoor space that connects several galleries and features a stylish, modern staircase, has a reception capacity of 125. The museum’s North Terrace and adjoining Sculpture Garden provide a serene setting for outdoor events, and the museum’s other indoor spaces include several smaller meeting rooms and a 169-seat auditorium.

“You can enjoy the museum, even if you’re just seeing our artwork, but we also have opportunities where we can really make a day of it for an event,” said Kim Barnhart, rental and event manager at the Delaware Art Museum.

These additional opportunities include attendee activities such as scavenger hunts throughout the museum’s permanent collections, as well as special exhibits and private art classes.

Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture

Spokane, Washington

Located in the western Washington town of Spokane, the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture was established in 1925 and originally run out of the historic Campbell House. Locally, it’s known as “the MAC,” but it’s also one of the state’s five Smithsonian-affiliated museums. It has the largest collection of Plateau Indian art in the world and over 1 million objects total, from fine art to cultural artifacts.

The museum campus features several stylish spaces to rent, including the Admissions Hall, which features floor-to-ceiling windows and warm wood tones, and can accommodate up to 30 banquet-style or 58 for a reception. There’s also a 163-seat auditorium, equipped with a lectern, sound system and projector, and a conference room that can hold up to 30 attendees. A gallery space showcasing Pacific Northwest art has a capacity of 50 attendees, and a large amphitheater is also available for outdoor meetings. Planners can use the caterer of their choice for events held at the museum. They can also add a variety of self-guided gallery experiences to their events.

“People who book here have the option of having the galleries open to their guests,” said Amanda Gardner, adult programs and events manager at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture. “And looking across the river, there’s really spectacular views of the north side of Spokane.”

Palm Springs Art Museum

Palm Springs, California

In the heart of downtown Palm Springs, the Palm Springs Art Museum is a popular contemporary museum often in demand as an event venue. The museum was founded in 1938, but its current building was designed in 1974 by prominent modernist architect E. Stewart Williams. It’s equally notable for its art and its focus on architecture and design.

The museum’s sophisticated event spaces include the atrium on the main floor, which features light wood floors and walls covered in lava rock and can accommodate 500 reception-style or 250 banquet-style. The 430-seat Annenberg Theater offers spectacular acoustics for a keynote presentation or film screening, while the 88-seat lecture hall on the museum’s third floor is great for smaller presentations and meetings. It has a state-of-the-art audiovisual system and space for catering. The museum’s outdoor spaces include the Elrod and Meyerman Sculpture Gardens, which feature a collection of sculptures and a fountain, and can host up to 120 for a banquet.

The museum provides a list of preferred caterers, though they are open to other external caterers on a case-by-case basis. A recently renovated restaurant on-site can provide in-house catering. Programming for events, including docent-guided museum tours, is available.

“We can work with different groups to tailor the experience for them,” said MarJon Hudson, director of advancement operations and visitor experience at the Palm Springs Art Museum. “We’re open to ideas; if we have a group that comes with a particular theme, we can create a curriculum of what that looks like inside the museum.”

Nicolaysen Art Museum

Casper, Wyoming

Often shortened to “the Nic,” the Nicolaysen Art Museum’s roots can be traced to 1967, when Casper, Wyoming, locals held a small art show. In the 1970s, the museum was moved into a building in town and eventually named after a local rancher who paid the museum’s mortgage. The museum’s current location opened in 1990. Today, it’s home to an estimated 6,300 objects and primarily focuses on contemporary art with Western and Rocky Mountains influences. It features work from local and national artists.

The Nic, housed in a large brick building in downtown Casper, is the one of the city’s premier venues for meetings and events. It offers several spaces for rent. Bryce Hall, the 2,000-square-feet room, has high ceilings and plenty of natural light. It has a capacity of 130 for cocktail receptions and 85 for banquets. Another of its most popular spaces is the 4,000-square-foot McMurry Gallery, which can accommodate up to 245 banquet-style or 300 reception-style and comes with access to two adjoining galleries. The Discovery Center, an education center perfect for hosting parties, workshops and classes, can hold 85 attendees seated.

The museum also has a conference room that seats 15 and includes a projector and screen for presentations, as well as a private backyard for events with up to 250 attendees. Rentals of Bryce Hall, the McMurry Gallery and the Discovery Center include access to the facility’s catering kitchen.

Huntsville Museum of Art

Huntsville, Alabama

With 14 galleries totaling 20,000 square feet, the Huntsville Museum of Art has a vast collection for visitors to explore. The museum’s core collection consists primarily of 19th and 20th century American art, with a focus on art from the Southeast, but it also houses many works from Africa, Asia and Europe. The museum opened in 1998 and was expanded in 2010. It’s located in Huntsville’s Big Spring Park.

Indoor and outdoor spaces are available to rent for meetings and events. The museum’s premier space is the Loretta Spencer Hall, which has a plenty of natural light, a stage, a patio and views of Big Spring Park. It has a capacity of 150 for banquets and 200 for receptions and includes two projection screens by the stage. Other indoor venues include the Judy and Oscar Maxwell Hall, a 2,000-square-foot venue that can accommodate 80 banquet-style or 175 for a reception and has walls of windows and patio access; the Great Hall, which features tall ceilings and can accommodate up to 200 theater-style; and the Lowe Boardroom, which comes with patio access and a private kitchenette, and is perfect for smaller meetings of up to 18.

The museum provides a list of preferred caterers for events, but all alcoholic beverage services must be provided by the Huntsville Museum of Art.