Have you ever beamed a flashlight through the rib cage of a dinosaur and watched it shadow dance on the ceiling? Or wanted to let your kids loose on a (carefully supervised!) chemistry experiment?
This Saturday night, the Redpath Museum and the McGill Chemistry Outreach Group are inviting everyone to tick off these bucket-list essentials at Nuit blanche, the event that sees Montrealers staying out all night to enjoy hundreds of activities across the city.
At the Redpath Museum, McGill students will lead flashlight tours of the collections of cultural artefacts, minerals and natural history specimens. Visitors to the Otto Maass Chemistry Building, meanwhile, will be able to see demonstrations and take part in experiments from the field of green chemistry.
Whispering in the shadows
Ingrid Birker, the Redpath Museum’s outreach administrator who has been taking part in Nuit blanche since 2007, says there is something “almost sacred” about the after-dark atmosphere.
“When the lights are out and the fans are off, everything gets very meditative,” she says. “You tend to whisper in the dark. You walk slower. You use your flashlight to find points of visual interest such as the glinty lapis lazuli on the Roman theatre mosaic or the bristly moustache hiding under the samurai helmet.”
To complement the hushed thrill at the Museum, bright colours and explosions will set the scene at the Chemistry Outreach show, which drew over 400 spectators at last year’s Nuit blanche. According to Maureen McKeague, assistant professor of chemistry and pharmacology at McGill, the experience is as enjoyable for the student demonstrators as it is for the audience members.
“Members of our group tell me their favourite part of giving chemistry demonstrations is seeing the glee in a child’s eyes when they help perform an experiment,” she says.
Get Spring Break started with McGill’s Nuit blanche events on Saturday, February 29, 2020: