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Museum Gala Channels T-Rex's Era

For the Dinosaur Ball, the bone-filled Natural History Museum brought in human-size dino puppets and foliage that thrived 600 million years ago.

Photo: Lee Salem Photography

A museum filled with bones and stuffed bears wouldn’t commonly be regarded as a romantic place, but for the Dinosaur Ball on April 21, Timeless Celebrations’ Peggy Kelley transformed the ground floor of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles into a dreamy, dimly lit setting for dining and dancing. Kelley, the museum’s former director of events and filming, worked with museum president and director Dr. Jane G. Pisano and event chairwoman Lynn Brengel.

The black-tie party for 520 hailed the inaugural year of the museum’s Dinosaur Institute. It began with cocktails on the museum’s grounds, decked out in sumptuous, rustic decor suggestive of the wilderness the big beasts called home. Guests lounged in intimate seating areas furnished with slip-covered couches and rattan chairs topped with sequined pillows. Birch covered the bars, and arrangements of elephant ears and other foliage that thrived 600 million years ago embellished the museum’s fountain. Kelley designed the cocktail area through a child’s eyes (indoors was the factual world of adults), so she imported Erth’s dinosaur puppets—both hand- and human-size—from Sydney, Australia, to greet guests as they arrived and circulate among them.

Guests picked up table assignments from wooden boxes filled with historically correct maiden-hair ferns at the museum’s entrance. Glass boxes displaying the head and foot of the Dinosaur Institute’s recently excavated treasure, Thomas the Tyrannosaurus Rex, flanked the main hall. Behind the permanent installation of dinosaur skeletons, FireFly LA projected a computer-generated loop of dinosaurs in several landscapes onto a custom-built, 66-foot-long screen. Jay Sterling Music’s band played standards as revelers moved into the halls of African and North American mammals for dinner. Afterward, guests danced to covers of Sly Stone and Gloria Gaynor before trailing out with copies of Glorified Dinosaurs by Dinosaur Institute director Luis M. Chiappe and a DVD about the discovery of Thomas the T-Rex.

Irene Lacher

Posted 04.25.07

Photos: Lee Salem Photography (exterior, tabletop, dining room, puppets), James Sequenzia (lamp, lounge)