A Night at Two Museums

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A Night at Two Museums

After a mild winter, it seems New Yorkers were itching for a party. So much so that two major museums decided to throw their annual galas on the same evening. More fun for everyone! Or more dashing around in cabs for those who felt loyalty to both.

As a member of the loyal camp, I started my night out Thursday at the American Museum of Natural History’s Museum Dance sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue and themed “Bright Young Things” after its upcoming exhibit “Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence” (get it? Next year it will be “Social Swans” alongside “The Best of Avian Species”).

The grand hall featured a disco ball hung between three dinosaurs and a bevy of young things dressed in colorful clothes in keeping with the attire suggestion of “Bright and Bold.”

blog-AMNH-winter-gala-2012-01.jpgFrom left: Allison Mignone, Peter Lyden, co-chair Dana Wallach Jones; Co-chairs Elizabeth and John Kurpis

“I normally wear all black. I don’t have anything color, so I called up my mom and asked to borrow something,” said Jill Kargman of her blue velvet Chanel Haute Couture gown. “She said we’re done if I spill anything on it.”

Regulars on the charity circuit found few familiar faces in the sea of orange bandage dresses and yellow headbands—probably a good thing, as it means the museum is attracting a new group of future donors.

“They must all be from the Upper West Side,” said one Upper East Sider, adding, “I don’t know who anyone is but they’re all pretty.”

The silent auction offerings provided many ways for them to stay pretty, with lots ranging from Fendi and Miu Miu handbags to a Soul Cycle Citizen bike and rather perplexingly, an “All About You” package including a consultation with a plastic surgeon, 1.0 cc Restylane and a full bottle of Latisse. If that’s what the Bright Young Things need, God help the rest of us.

blog-AMNH-winter-gala-2012-02.jpgDinner at the American Museum of Natural History

Unfortunately, I was unable to catch the dinner portion of the dance (I do love the scene under that big blue whale), as I had to rush over to The Plaza for the Museum of the City of New York’s Winter Ball, sponsored by Giorgio Armani. Cocktails in the Palm Court were quite the scene—one could barely move as Jamee and Peter Gregory, Debbie Bancroft, Heather Mnuchin (one of the evening’s chairs, who flew in from LA for 36 hours for the occasion), Valesca Guerrand-Hermès, Jamie Tisch and Jennifer Creel mingled.

blog-MCNY-winter-gala-01.jpgFrom left: Heather Mnuchin; Jamee Gregory

“I love this—I just saw 40 people in five minutes,” quipped Anthony Todd who chose to remain stationary.

Liam Neeson proved a surprising sight—and a welcome one—at the socially mobile event. Dressed in head-to-toe black, he seemed a bit concerned about meeting the black tie dress code.

“I hope no one thinks I didn’t make an effort because I’m not wearing a tie,” he confessed to me.

I assured him he need not fret and queried whether his sleek suit was Armani.

“Everything’s Armani,” he said, adding with a mischievous smile, “Including the underwear.”

blog-MCNY-Liam-Neeson-and-Jamie-Tisch.jpgLiam Neeson and Jamie Tisch

Well then. Off to dinner after that in the upstairs ballroom, where Armani had decked out the long dining tables with ultra-modern, foot-high candelabras. We had deconstructed Caesar salad, steak and a very attentive waiter who wielded the champagne bottle like a baby’s bottle.

“I’m Polish. We provide,” he said.

Mark Gilbertson, the most vocal of the chairs, gave a speech from a balcony before telling guests “Everyone eat your dinner and please don’t leave early. It’s been too much effort.”

People obeyed. Marisa Brown hit the dancefloor with aplomb, as did Olivia Chantecaille (celebrating her birthday, in addition to the museum).

Photos: AMNH: AMNHD. Finnin; MCNY: Patrick McMullan

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