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Meetings at Museums

Liberty Science Center

Jersey City, New Jersey

Featuring beautiful views of Liberty State Park and lower Manhattan, the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, New Jersey, is a state-of-the-art, 300,000-square-foot facility with 12 exhibition halls, a world-class planetarium and a live-animal collection of more than 110 species.

There are 15 meeting spaces available in the museum, accommodating anywhere from 10 to 700 guests. The Skyscraper Gallery serves as a popular cocktail party venue, entertaining up to 150 guests with colorful displays of different skyscrapers from around the world. Another unusual event space is the Observation Tower, a 170-foot glass pyramid at the top of the museum that offers a 360-degree view of surrounding city sights like the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Liberty State Park. The tower can host up to 70 guests for a seated dinner and up to 80 for receptions.

This month, the museum will open a brand-new 400-seat planetarium with an 88-foot dome, making it the largest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere. The planetarium creates a seamless visual field using 10 video projectors, which corporate groups can use for dynamic presentations, videoconferences and original film showings.

Scavenger hunts are extremely popular as a team-building activity for meeting groups: Teams of three to five people hunt through the exhibits for answers to a questionnaire. The team with the most correct answers wins. Groups can also collaborate in the Innovation Lab to create a bridge using 3-D printers.

The Liberty Science Center recently opened a traveling Star Trek exhibition called the “Starfleet Academy Experience”; it will run until May 28, 2018. As guests wander through the displays, they can take on a series of challenges to determine which roles on the fleet best suit their personalities and strengths.

Museum of Discovery

Little Rock, Arkansas

Situated along Little Rock’s vibrant waterfront district, the Museum of Discovery explores the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics through interactive exhibits and educational programming.

“Adults are just like kids; they love to explore and discover, and that’s what we’re all about,” said Kendall Thornton, chief marketing officer at the museum.

The museum offers three classrooms and lab spaces that can be used for corporate outings and other events. The Tinkering Studio serves as a great venue for smaller groups, giving attendees team-building opportunities using the tools, supplies and informational materials in the room. Many meeting groups enjoy breaking up the work session with a special science demonstration from one of the staff educators, who often use fun visual props such as Legos to teach the mechanics of engineering or mousetraps to talk about the science of chain reactions.

Several of the exhibits are available for rent as well, including the 2,500-square-foot “Science and Art” exhibit. This unique exhibit bridges the gap between art and science by showcasing the talents of five scientists who used their scientific expertise to create innovative works of art.

Another highlight of the museum is the Tesla Theater, where visitors get the chance to see 250,000 volts of electricity shoot out from a Guinness World Record musical bipolar Tesla coil. By modulating the frequency of the plasma, museum staff members can play the coil like an instrument, producing a variety of tunes from well-known songs.

COSI Columbus

Columbus, Ohio

COSI Columbus has a longstanding reputation as one of the most prestigious science museums in the country; it features more than 320,000 square feet of beautiful exhibit space and hands-on activities for visitors of all ages.

“When you bring a meeting to COSI, you get a really unique, creative space,” said Chris Hurtubise, senior director of marketing and communications at the museum. “It’s very important for meeting planners to have content that enhances the meeting beyond the meeting itself.”

Planners can choose from 12 meeting areas in the museum, the largest being Gallery II on the second floor, which can accommodate up to 600 guests. COSI recently partnered with the distinguished American Museum of Natural History in New York City to open a new, permanent dinosaur gallery. This exquisite 13,000-square-foot exhibition highlights the history and evolution of dinosaurs from fossils to feathers, providing another desirable venue for meeting groups.

Thanks to the variety of spaces, groups can choose to meet in a private meeting room during the day and then enjoy a reception or a cocktail party in one of the exhibits after hours. Some groups enjoy bringing in one of the museum’s qualified staff members to speak about deep space, science and other topics, like COSI president and CEO Frederic Bertley or COSI’S chief scientist and astrophysicist, Paul Sutter. The museum also offers special event services such as free Wi-Fi, audiovisual equipment, event setup and teardown, and on-site catering that includes such mouthwatering menu items as Thai curry soup, miso-glazed salmon and ricotta cheesecake.