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“Guests at the Black Creativity Gala do not stay in their seats. They are the dancing-est crowd I have seen,” warned Octavia Hooks, manager of community affairs at the Museum of Science and Industry, before the fund-raiser on Saturday night. So it's no surprise that this year's gala offered a new format that swapped a sit-down dinner for a strolling buffet and added a lower-level lounge with a DJ and an additional dance floor.
Held at the Hyde Park institution, the formal affair began with a speech from chair Peggy A. Montes. “You do not have to sit,” she told the crowd of 800 guests. “We want you to mingle, have fun, and be seen. This is truly a night at the museum.”
As such, several of the museum's attractions remained open, including this year's Black Creativity exhibit. (The Black Creativity programming, which comprises two exhibitions and an educational series, recognizes scientific achievements by African Americans.) Focused on health and well-being, “Taking Charge of You!” includes a display filled with magnetic photos of common foods and lists the calorie count in each of them. “Ladies, do not grow emotional, these are only magnets,” cautioned Warren, a museum staffer, when a group of women in evening gowns gasped over the number of calories in a bagel and cream cheese. In another area, guests learned new hip-hop moves from an instructional video meant to encourage exercise.
In keeping with the health theme, Sodexo servers in lab coats wandered around the exhibits with mock prescription forms. Signed by Montes, the forms ordered guests to step up to bar and have their martini glasses filled with the specialty “Elixir” cocktail, a blend of lemon-flavored vodka, fresh mint, and lemon juice.
In the rotunda, staggered buffet stations were devoted to salads, jerk chicken, and sushi, and a so-called “remedy station” offered duck breast smoked in Oolong tea and steamed red snapper with ginger sauce. Desserts included sugar-free cupcakes, pomegranate and guava caviar, and oatmeal cookies served with shots of milk.
The gala raised around $500,000 for the museum's Black Creativity programs.