How a Museum Turned Gore Into Glamour for Its Annual Gala

The California Science Center's annual Discovery Ball took its theme from its new “Body Worlds: Pulse" exhibit.

By Alesandra Dubin June 12, 2017, 7:32 AM EDT

Body-painted models performed poses similar to those found in the California Science Center's new exhibit, "Body Worlds: Pulse." It took 10 hours for painters to create the looks on site.

Photo: Nadine Froger Photography

California Science Center Discovery Ball
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Every year in Los Angeles, the California Science Center hosts its annual Discovery Ball with an all-encompassing theme that draws from the museum’s newest exhibit. This year, that format set the stage for a gala with a decidedly gory—or at least anatomical—look and feel.

The museum’s event services department, helmed by vice president of food and event services Christina Sion, headed up the production and design for the 19th annual Discovery Ball, which featured the premiere of the new summer exhibit, “Body Worlds: Pulse.”

About 800 guests started out the evening of May 19 at a nervous system-theme cocktail party amid Lucent Dossier's living plastinates (preserved bodies); these fully anatomically correct, body-painted models performed poses similar to those found in the exhibit. Aerialists and contortionists also performed above and in the reflection pool, meant as demonstrations of the complexity and beauty of the human body, under a balloon sculpture installation that resembled red blood cells.

After cocktails, guests were invited to use their locomotive systems to propel themselves through the City of L.A.’s historic rose garden, while a dozen performers from the Debbie Allen Dance Academy led the way to dinner.

Aptly themed around the digestive system, dinner within the Science Center’s Samuel Oschin Pavilion (which famously features the space shuttle Endeavour) offered short ribs and anatomically correct chocolates as mignardises. Linens were meant as eerie resemblances to muscle tissue samples under a microscope.

After dinner, guests were invited to work their circulatory systems at an after-party, which included a dessert buffet with anatomically inspired offerings, while a custom-made pulsing heart hung overhead. The party also featured anatomically correct heart-shape popsicles and a giant tabletop version of the game “Operation.”

All told, the event exceeded its fund-raising goal for science camp scholarships: $230,000. Overall, the event took in about $1.4 million.

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