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Night at the Museum brings history to life

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This Saturday, watch the Savannah History Museum come to life after hours.

Night at the Museum is an annual favorite event, modeled after the popular film series of the same name. Just like the film, visitors go through night guard training and then get to meet the characters that they learn about in the museum.

“It’s a super fun event,” says Holly Elliott, PR & Marketing Director for the Coastal Heritage Society. “We’re able to teach about what we have to offer at the museum in kind of a fun, magical way.”

The event consists of two parts. The film screening is offered either before or after the program, so guests can choose which screening to attend.

This year, the event is modeled around the third movie, “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,” so guests will watch a screening of that film.

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“The second part is they come through and do a night guard training, so essentially our night guards are the Ben Stillers of the movie,” explains Elliott.

This year, the participants’ mission is to solve the mystery of the missing keys. Participants will hear from each historical figure, who gives them a clue as well as a souvenir to take home, and at the end of the program, they’ll put together the clues and solve the mystery.

The historical figures represent a wide variety of Savannah’s history, as well as the Coastal Heritage Society’s sites.

“Since we have the Pin Point Heritage Museum, we’ll have a Gullah-Geechee worker, and we’ll be talking about A.S. Varn and Sons and the seafood industry in Savannah and, of course, Gullah-Geechee culture,” says Elliott.

Other historical figures include Johnny Mercer, Casimir Pulaski, Susie King Taylor, and a British soldier.

New this year is Alida Harper Fowlkes, who will speak on the preservation movement. That’s a notable addition because the Coastal Heritage Society added the Harper Fowlkes House to its care this year.

“We’ll be able to talk about the preservation movement and her involvement in it, so that’ll be a cool station for us,” says Elliott.

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Partnerships with local organizations are important for the event to keep it fresh and relevant.

“We try to do different types of characters each year, so we switch out. We have a lot we can offer,” says Elliott. “For instance, last year we worked with someone at the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home, so we had a Flannery O’Connor here. We try to do a lot of partnerships and things; there are a lot of narratives people aren’t familiar with, and we have a ton of artifacts to support it. It’s a great way for us to be able to showcase our artifacts and have something different.”

Elliott notes that while this event is popular for children, people of any age are welcome to attend the fun event.

“We do actually have adults that come too,” she says. “Even though it’s more of a kid-focused event, just because a lot of kids really love the movie, you’d be surprised how many adults are like, ‘I want to come to this!’ Come on—we’re not going to ban anybody from coming in.”

Regardless of age, the event is important for promoting a love of history.

“For us, getting kids involved is such a great part of being able to spread the love of history, so getting them involved at a young age helps them build that interest,” says Elliott. “And as they continue to grow, we hope they come back to our sites and continue to appreciate history more and that they carry that on through their education, through their schooling and throughout the rest of their life.”

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