“Never bet against New York,” Ellen V. Futter, President of the American Museum of Natural History announced to a crowd of jovial gala attendees at the museum’s annual event on Thursday, December 1. It was the second annual gala since 2020’s missed year, and hundreds of attendees raised over $2.5 million to support the museum’s educational and science programs.
“The Museum Gala is a chance to celebrate and support the Museum’s work in science and education at a time when it is more important than ever,” said Futter, who will conclude her 30-year tenure as museum president in 2023.
The event kicked off Thursday evening with a red carpet with celebrities including Steve Martin, Colin Jost, Kenan Thompson, Alec and Hilaria Baldwin, Lorne and Alice Michaels and the Saturday Night Live cast. Non-celebrity guests dressed in festive black tie enjoyed cocktails and canapes amongst the dinosaurs in the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda.
For dinner, guests gathered in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, where a live auction under the iconic Blue Whale offered Saturday Night Live tickets and an after party experience, Jimmy Fallon Tickets and the opportunity to contribute to the museum’s programming. Fallon himself hosted the event, welcoming attendees to their annual tax write off and teasing that his popularity hosting the same event 12 years ago must have made an impression.
A dinner menu by chef Marcus Samuelsson included black kale salad; roast chicken with butternut farro, carrots, and salsa verde; and pear-parsnip cake. Fallon warmed up the crowd with his guitar, singing holiday songs in the styles of iconic singers such as Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and David Bowie, before welcoming Grammy winner Brandi Carlile and her band.
“All of our dreams have come true in New York City,” Carlile said. “My lifelong dream was to be on SNL. It was realized last year and I can’t say enough about what that meant for my life and my music and my family’s lives. One of the great honors of my life and career is being a part of SNL. Unspeakably fucking cool. It makes you feel like a real life rock star.” Carlile will make a sophmore appearance on the show on Saturday, December 10, and the night’s host, Steve Martin, also helped accompany Carlile on banjo for her performance of the hit “You and Me on the Rock.”
The set list also included “The Story,” “Broken Horses,” and several classic rock covers that brought the audience to standing ovations. She acknowledged that her two daughters adore the American Museum of Natural History, and playing under the whale could compete with a sold out Madison Square Garden.
In February 2023, the museum will open the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, in a brand new wing of the campus that promises new galleries, an immersive experience, classroom space and more. “Events like this hala go a long way to strengthening the Museum as it extends and amplifies its scientific, educational, and civic role for a new era,” Futter said.