Night at the Museum

These days, some of Charlotte’s top museums are keeping the lights on—and drawing big crowds—after hours. Here’s where to go for your arts and science fix after dark.

Science on the Rocks

Care for a side of science with your martini? On the third Friday of every month Uptown’s Discovery Place hosts Science on the Rocks—an adults-only evening of drinks and learning. Music, games, and workshops make Science on the Rocks an unforgettable experience, with different playful themes each night. June, for instance, was Game Night at Science on the Rocks, complete with a hands-on Beyond the Rubik’s cube exhibit, Jumbo Jenga, Colossal Connect Four, Super Duper Dominos, cockroach races, and a charity drive.

Science on the Rocks is zany, fascinating, and grown-up fun. It’s a chance to embrace your youthful spirit and act like a kid again, while learning about science and sipping your cocktail.


Bechtler by Night

On special nights art enthusiasts can admire vibrant, beautiful artwork with a backdrop of clinking cocktails and glimmering lights. The gallery goers are there for Bechtler by Night, a series hosted by the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art on the third Friday of every month. From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., the museum opens all four floors of its gallery to the public free of charge. Many would-be museum goers aren’t able to make the museum’s normal hours, so Bechtler by Night is an effort to make the museum more accessible to the community.

“This event really brings our most diverse crowd through our doors on a consistent basis,” says Andrew Goh, a digital communications specialist for the museum. “Young to old, families to groups of friends, many different people of all different walks of life.”

Each event in the series has a different theme, so depending on the night there might be interpretive dance, live music, Bechtler Bingo, or gallery scavenger hunts. Food from Modern Café is always available, in addition to a cash bar featuring a specialty cocktail based on the night’s theme. After all, gazing at art is wonderful, but gazing at it with a glass of wine and sweet treat is particularly inspiring.

Gantt After Dark

At this monthly event guests can mingle under the stars and enjoy an exquisite view of Charlotte’s nighttime cityscape from the Gantt Center’s rooftop terrace. With a new theme each month, this series is put on by the Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture to provide guests with a fun and glamourous after-hours way to experience all the museum has to offer. Guests can start enjoying the center’s art before even stepping into the building—the center itself is architecturally stunning, with abstract lines and a contemporary feel.

“The idea is to really have a cultural experience where art and culture come to life,” says David Taylor, the President and CEO of the Gantt Center. Gantt After Dark typically runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and the galleries are open for people who may not have the opportunity to visit during normal hours.

In addition to food, drinks, and live music, special segments occur at the events. One such series is Paint and Sip, where members can buy tickets for $20 ($25 for non-members) and participate in an evening of guided painting and wine tasting with a featured artist. Guests can also meet with visual artists, watch them live paint, and shop at the gift shop.

“It’s a combination of the community,” Taylor says. “There are artists there, art enthusiasts, people who enjoy music, people who want to come and network; so it’s just all age groups, and it’s a great demographic of people.”

Latin Music Concert Series

Lose yourself in Latin rhythms, and salsa the night away at the Mint Museum’s Latin Music Concert Series featuring local performing artists. The concerts draw a diverse group of guests, but they all share a common thread: a love for Latin American music. From classical to tango, flamenco to samba, Latin jazz to contemporary beats, music from all over Latin America resonates through the evening air.

“The mission with this concert series has been to share the diversity and beauty of music from different regions of Latin America and Spain, beyond what is already known, and at every concert feature musical gems that are sometimes not known outside the countries where those were composed,” says Claudia Soria, the Latino Community public relations manager for the museum.

Although the concert series focuses on music, other art forms are included as well, such as poetry, dance, and art exhibitions by Latin American artists that relate to the theme of the concert. There is a cash bar at the event, and children ages 12 and up are welcome.


Wine on Wednesdays

Save, sip, and sashay around the Mint. Every Wednesday night from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Mint Museum gives the public free gallery access. In addition to appealing to your budget, Wine on Wednesdays has live music and—lucky you—a wine cash bar. Peruse exhibits like “Pumped: The Art of Shoemaking” with a  glass of red, or sip your sauvignon blanc while visiting a collection of contemporary British studio ceramics. Need further incentive? WOW nights also offer savings on merchandise from the Uptown shop and free wine refills. Guests can also join in an hour-long yoga class at 5:30 p.m. during the weekly event. If you visit the gallery in your yoga attire, you’ll get an extra 5 percent off that night’s shopping special. Where else can you admire ancient warrior art right after doing warrior poses yourself?