The 6 Best After-Hours Parties at Museums

Museums are a great pastime for a rainy day. The best museums are hands-on learning experiences unlike any other. But the very best museums have after-hours parties that extend into the night. Here are the best museums in the country for soaking up culture, science, and a couple drinks from the bar — all at the same time.

Exploratorium After Dark at San Francisco’s Exploratorium

San francisco exploratorium
Photo via Exploratorium

A mix of a gallery, theater, and a cabaret with a cash bar, live music, and, of course, access to exhibits. The Exploratorium hits pretty much everything from science to sex in its weekly Thursday After Dark series. Some example happenings: May the Fourth Be with You; Pairings: Wild Salmon, and Cannabis.

Untitled Final Fridays at the Denver Art Museum

Denver Museum of Art
Photo via Denver Museum of Art

On the last Friday of every month from January to October, the Denver Art Museum hosts a cash-bar fueled, “mixed media” party. There are workshops, performances, and tours covering topics like Roots, True Grit, and Truth & Dare (as opposed to the much more common truth or dare).

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One Step Beyond at New York City’s American Museum of Natural History

Museum of Natural History After Hours
Photo via Museum of Natural History

The museum bills One Step Beyond as “the best party this side of the Milky Way.” Sure, it’s a bit of a nerdy reference, but can you blame them when they put on live shows underneath the stunning Rose Center for Earth and Space with beer and wine? Sets include people like DâM-FunK, Waajeed, and Classixx.

Jazz in the Garden at Washington, D.C.’s National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden
Photo via National Gallery of Art

A free jazz concert in the middle of a giant sculpture garden? Yes please. Every summer Friday from 5-8:30 p.m., live music is served up next to snacks and pitchers of sangria. Nothing screams summer fun like outdoor music and pitchers of sangria.

Panama 66 at The San Diego Museum of Art

Panama 66 San Diego
Photo via Panama 66

Every night is a party night at the San Diego Museum of Art. That’s because of the restaurant bar Panama 66, which is open until 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday, and until 10 p.m. on Thursday through Sunday. Breathe in views of the May S. Marcy sculpture garden while drinking San Diego’s famous local craft beer on tap and exhibition-themed cocktails.

After Dark at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Photo via Carnegie Museum of Natural History

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History has possibly the best description of a museum event of all time:

“The lights are low, the bar is open, and the music is playing. Armed with a cocktail and your closest friend, you venture into a prehistoric world where giant sauropods tower over the bustling crowd and two T-Rexes cast in multi-colored lights are frozen in battle.

This isn’t the museum of your childhood. This is After Dark.”

Done. Sold. Booked.