Museum of Science and Industry Keeps The Creativity and Black in Annual Gala

March 5, 2014
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$360,000 raised for Black Creativity programming

It was that time of the year again in late January when the Museum of Science and Industry played host to what has long been an affair to see and be seen in Chicago – namely, the 31st Black Creativity Black-Tie Gala.

Co-chaired by Cheri Chappelle, director of diversity and inclusion for ITW, and Museum Trustee Frank Clark, retired chairman and CEO of ComEd, the 2014 gala generated about $360,000 for Black Creativity programming and events.

Designed to raise funds to support the annual Black Creativity programming and events that pay tribute to the culture, heritage and science contributions of African Americans and help motivate youth in the sciences, the gala should be on your social calendar every year if it’s not already in its rightful place.

And while that endorsement comes from a (biased?) guest who as a former Hyde Parker fondly remembers running through the museum’s halls as a kid in the early to mid-70s, don’t be misled by my inclinations and nostalgia.

Although the turnout this year felt smaller than in previous years – and less, actually, than the 700 guests in the official count – the evening’s getaway vibe despite the arctic cold gripping “Chiberia” was still the same, keeping the gala one of the premier get-togethers on the city’s social scene and in support of a great cause at that.

Every year, and this year was no exception, the cocktails and hors d’oeuvres are plentiful and easily accessible in the Museum’s Rotunda in a visually pleasing strolling buffet. And let’s be honest: Experienced and rookie gala-goers like me often judge the success of a black-tie event on the diversity, quality and availability of the food.

But there’s no need to fear heading to the Black Creativity Gala on an empty stomach as the food stations featured (hello hunger pangs) jumbo gulf shrimp, spiced cured salmon, tuna carpaccio, grilled octopus, cheddar beignets, crawfish macaroni and cheese with braised swiss chard, and a petite chicken and waffle. And don’t forget the carved black cherry smoked duck. But leave room for dessert like smoothie shooters, panna cotta, truffles and macaroons. And a cocktail. Or two. Or three. Or …

The crowd is uber-professional and good looking. The program is short and to the point (often an overlooked distraction and necessary evil at other affairs). The entertainment is just that, entertaining – the ubiquitous Gentlemen of Leisure took the stage this year before DJ Lil’ John hit the 1’s and 2’s.

And the venue itself is always fully complementary of the annual Juried Art Exhibition, which this year features more than 85 original works of art from African-American artists.

If you missed the gala (don’t next year) take the family to the 2014 Black Creativity Program that’s ideal for students, teachers and families to explore the legacy of rich contributions and achievements made by African Americans while encouraging youth’s interest in science and technology.

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**(All photos by Alison Neidt-Toonen and John Wheeler.)

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