Sam Noble museum's second annual fundraiser offers archaeological theme

By Melissa Morgan

Transcript Features Editor

As Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History staff members set out to create an unforgettable fundraising event, they thought what better than to make sure it's the most bone-chilling night ever at the museum.

"We were really look for a fun way to get people involved and get them to come to the museum for a very fun evening that would be unique to the museum," said Brooke Barnett, the museum's development officer. "We really wanted to take it one step above just the regular wine and hors d'oeuvres."

For the museum's second annual fundraiser, set for 6:30 to 10 p.m. March 31, "Muse-a-Palooza" is the name, and archaeological entertainment will be the game.

Linda Coldwell, the museum's public relations and marketing officer, said last year's ground-breaking "Paleo-Palooza" hosted more than 200 guests. Probably most-memorable about the event, however, was the unveiling of a T-Rex named Sue, which dazzled children and adults alike for weeks during its local visit.

Barnett said this year's fundraiser promises to be as unique, and hopefully even more successful, offering guests a whole new adventure -- literally.

"Throughout the night there will be a simulated archaeological dig which will be unveiling a mystery site that the guests will not know what it is," she said. "To add to the excitement we're going to have a big board where people can place their guesses about what we are unveiling. The person with the correct guess at the end of the night will win a dinner for two at Legend's."

The event will feature live music, food and drink, and an opportunity for guests to peruse the selection at the museum's one-of-a-kind silent auction.

The auction will include several items, a few of which are specific to the museum. Those items include a hands-on archaeological dig at a site in Oklahoma with the museum's curator, Don Wychoff. "It's not something you can just go out and do; it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Barnett said. There also will be a bird-watching trip for six and a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum with the director.

Additional entertainment will include demonstrations of authentic flint knapping -- the art and craft of creating stone tools from raw flint in the manner of the prehistoric people of Oklahoma.

"The museum offers an experience that is truly unique to the state of Oklahoma," said event chair Les Risser. "It makes sense that the museum's fundraiser should be a unique experience as well.

"Last year Palooza-goers enjoyed the opportunity to bid on items like casts of Oklahoma fossils and private behind-the-scenes tours.

"This year we will offer more of those one-of-a-kind opportunities, plus an evening of casual entertainment in the museum's beautiful facilities. This event is sure to be a great success."

Tickets to the event are $75 per person. All proceeds from the event go to support the mission and programs of the museum.

"Last year we raised $16,000. All the proceeds support the on-going programs here at the museum," Barnett said. "We're hoping to top $25,000 this year. If we could add $10,000 to the total, we would be happy."

The emcee for the night will be Dan Stroud from KXY, who also is a volunteer at the museum.

Muse-a-Palooza is sponsored by Arvest Bank, Norman Regional Health System, Reynolds Ford, and Vanguard Companies, with additional support from Legends Restaurant, Norman Living, Republic Bank and Trust and University Printing Services.

For more information, or to make reservations for the event, call Barnett at 325-5020.

The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History is located at Timberdell Road and Chautauqua Avenue in Norman. Additional information about the museum is available on the Web at www.snomnh.ou.edu.

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