Museum of Science Gala Lets Guests Walk Through a Tornado, Dine Beside a Thunderstorm

By Jenny Berg November 1, 2010, 3:23 PM EDT

Photo: Photography by Tay Kaune for BizBash

Museum of Science and Industry's Columbian Ball
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On October 23, more than 800 guests—including mayoral hopeful and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel—headed to the Museum of Science and Industry for its annual Columbian Ball. The evening's theme was based on a new permanent exhibition, “Science Storms,” which guests got to check out during cocktail hour. The co-chairs were Jim and Andrea Gordon, Jill Garling, and Tom Wilson.

Within the exhibit, a 40-foot simulated tornado proved to be a big draw, with attendees lining up to have photos snapped in the foggy, whirling vortex (sans cocktails, of course—staffers ensured that partygoers put down their drinks before entering the exhibit space). In the museum's rotunda, Heffernan Morgan's custom bars had bases covered in aerial photos of tornadoes and hurricanes. Oversize lamp shades also bore images of storm fronts.

Dinner took place in a heated tent on the museum's front lawn. To keep the theme in place, drop-down screens showcased footage of thunderstorms as a soundtrack of rain, thunder, and lighting boomed out of the speakers. The menu also had inclement-weather inspiration: for dessert, Limelight served mini chocolate cakes topped with cyclonelike nests of spun sugar.

The ball had hefty corporate support, with principal sponsors such as Motorola, Northern Trust, United, and BP. Co-sponsors included Bank of America, Abbott, Goldman Sachs, and Aon.

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