During preparations for its fall benefit, the American Folk Art Museum hit a snafu many benefit makers would be happy to encounter: too many RSVPs. In this case, 150 too many. So at the last minute, the institution scratched the tent it had planned to erect outside the museum for a larger venue. “We were so lucky the Roseland was available that night,” said Katie Hush, the museum's special events manager.
The theme for Tuesday night's event was tied to the museum's current exhibition, “Gilded Lions and Jeweled Horses: The Synagogue to the Carousel.” JKS Events and the museum’s team transformed the Roseland Ballroom into an elaborate carnival, with jugglers on stilts, an a capella doo-wop group, and an illusionist greeting guests as they entered party and moved into the cocktail reception and dinner.
“The exhibition is about Jewish woodcarvers, so we tried to use Jewish foods a little bit as well,” Hush said of the brisket, latkes, and egg creams incorporated into the menu. At the meal, guests sat at tables anchored by whimsical topiaries and cartoonishly large candelabras among the carousel figures, shimmering lights, and giant streamers that lined the dining space.
The presentation included tributes to the night’s honorees (including Time Warner chairman and C.E.O. Richard D. Parsons), and Law & Order’s Sam Waterston served as M.C. There was also an auction for almost 40 wooden carousel figures, designed by contemporary self-taught artists, and packages such as a trip to the set of the sixth Harry Potter film in London. The revenue from the auctions and the sale of the 530-plus seats raised more than $1 million for the museum’s exhibitions and educational efforts.