We were so excited to be asked by our neighbors to throw a party this summer! Here at the UF Cultural Plaza, we sit right between the Harn Museum of Art and Phillips Center for Performing Arts, and while we’re all busy welcoming visitors and contributing to life on the University of Florida campus, it’s rare we get to team up and have fun.

Our friends at the Harn host regular Museum Nights events, and they proposed we turn their August 11th event into a Block pARTy to end the summer with a huzzah! Our theater friends were also thrilled to roll out the red carpet and stage some plays.

visitors in the museum gallery watching the live VR screens
Our regular exhibits were open for this evening event so guests could explore Florida’s natural history together! Florida Museum photo by Jeff Gage

But what could the Florida Museum contribute that was as cool as art and screen printing with the Harn, or offered the thrills and chills of the Driveway Theatre Project? Why not a nature walk in the dark? Our scientists guided visitors on a discovery walk through the Natural Area Teaching Labs adjacent to our plaza to learn about our frog friends and other nocturnal critters. Head lamps and flashlights helped illuminate the humid Florida darkness, revealing the regular nighttime nature party we usually only hear from a distance.

During the evening, our exhibits were open late and our education team hosted a Biodiversity Pop-up on our front patio to make nature collages and challenge guests to hop like a frog. A few hundred adventuresome visitors got to explore and experience what the UF Cultural Plaza does every day. With food trucks, frogs and fun prizes!

Many thanks to our neighbors, the Harn Museum of Art and the Phillips Center for Performing Arts, and our staff and scientists who had as much fun as our guests! We all had such a good time that we’re going to do this again soon. Stay tuned!

Two groups of guests got to meet some cute evening residents in NATL. Florida Museum photo by Jeff Gage

Frog Walk

Daniel Paluh, a postdoctoral researcher who specializes in frogs, and Dave Blackburn, curator of our herpetology collection, were phenomenal guides for our frog walk. While we don’t recommend exploring the Natural Area Teaching Labs here on UF campus after dark, having experienced guides makes it a lovely learning experience on special occasions.