Building a new museum facility that will become a cultural icon of a vibrant city is by nature a team effort of Museum staff and community support. The Museum’s annual Galaxy Gala and Big Bang event is the showpiece of this team effort, as proceeds from the event support the Museum’s new state-of-the-art facility currently under construction in downtown Miami’s Museum Park.
Over 700 of Miami’s business, civic, philanthropic, and young professional leaders recently gathered at the 2014 Galaxy Gala and Big Bang event. Founded by Museum Board of Trustees Co-Chairs Trish and Dan Bell, this 12th annual Galaxy Gala was the most out-of-this-world experience yet. The Bells were joined by Museum naming donors Patricia and Phillip Frost, Museum President & CEO Gillian Thomas, and other Museum Board of Trustee members, in a spectacular winter wonderland designed by WowFactor. Hosted by WPLG Channel 10′s Laurie Jennings, the Gala festivities were led by Co-Chairs Nancy Batchelor and Nicole Lozano, Philantropic Chairs Trish and Dan Bell, and Host Chairs Alicia Cervera Lamadrid and Alberto Lamadrid. “With our new home in Museum Park now going vertical, this year’s Galaxy Gala was an opportunity for individual and corporate supporters to come together for a spectacular evening of entertainment, fine dining and dancing – all in support of what will be among the world’s most innovative and educational museums,” said Nancy Batchelor.
Gala attendees were treated to an evening of fine dining and dancing, as well as amazing media pieces showcasing the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science facility, and some of the technologies that will be highlighted within. By the end of the evening, we raised more than at any previous Gala. Here are some of the many spectacular highlights!
Joseph Falk, Vice-Chair of the Museum’s Board of Trustees, with help from an alien avatar who greeted attendees via augmented reality, talked about the importance of donating as a way to collectively build the best Museum and the best community possible. Using MobileCause, attendees were able to donate by text, and with each donation, the temperature on a virtual thermometer rose and rose, culminating in a stellar gift of $100,000 from Museum Board members Swanee and Paul DiMare. In a few short minutes, this spontaneous giving spree surpassed $175,000 in all. Larry Pimentel, Museum Board of Trustees member and President of Azamara Club Cruises, also generously auctioned two cruises earlier in the evening, contributing an additional $50,000.
During the Gala, attendees didn’t just mingle with the elite of the Miami community. In addition to the alien avatar, there were whales, penguins, and polar bears that joined in the fun via a spectacular augmented reality display from AR Video Technologies, developed by Hungarian software development company Appshaker. This brought the Gala’s winter wonderland theme to stunning 3-dimensional life on a massive 19feet by 9feet LED display screen provided by Cin City Studios, with support from Museum construction firm Suffolk. Words and images can’t quite do this justice, so if you weren’t at the Gala, and would like a preview of some of the amazing technology that you’ll see in the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, check out this link to see what the augmented reality experience at the Gala was really like.
Awards were given during the Gala by the Museum, presented by Museum Board of Trustee Co-Chairs Trish and Dan Bell, to acknowledge those who have exhibited exceptional leadership and commitment to the development and building of our new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. The Vanguard Award was presented to Paula and Robert Brockway of Mercedes-Benz of Coral Gables and Mercedes-Benz of Cutler Bay, for their substantial contribution to empowering and educating the larger community by initiating change, transformation, and innovation. The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science award was given to Museum Board of Trustee member Mitchell Less to honor his outstanding dedication and support of the Museum, and the Visionary Award went to Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, for providing leadership, initiative, and inspiration in originating and advancing the Museum’s mission and vision.
Purple was a dominant color for the ambiance as well as many of the beautiful ensembles at the Gala, which was to honor the Venus Orbit project. Led by Museum Board member Julia Rea Bianchi, Venus Orbit was established as an opportunity for 1,000 dynamic women to join forces and donate $1,000 each, $1,000,000 in total, to support the construction of the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science facility. When the goal is reached, the Knight Foundation will donate a 50% match, making the grand total a stunning $1,500,000. Over 40 Venus Orbit members attended the Gala (representing 10% of all women in attendance), and even more fabulous women joined during the Gala.
Even though the Gala took place at the JW Marriott Marquis, guests were still able to visit our yet-to-be-completed facility, thanks to an updated animated fly-through media piece from 3D2. Even if you have flown through this video before, take another flight, and look out for brand new updates, including a visualization of the River of Grass exhibit, marine animals swimming through the Gulf Stream tank, a sneak peek of an immersive media wall experience (look for the whale swimming by), and spectacular views of Museum Park.
The new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science facility will not only be a place to visit and learn, it will be a place to inspire the next generation. Robert Berkowitz, Museum Board of Trustee member and owner of Multivision Video & Film, generously produced a film that highlights people from around Miami who are leading their respective fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine, and education, as well as young people who may fill those roles in the future. Each were asked about their inspirations and what the Museum represents to them, and the resulting video, shown at the Gala, is inspiring in and of itself.
Exceptional high school students from the Museum’s Upward Bound Math & Science program were also honored at the Gala. This program, funded by the US Department of Education, prepares high school students from underrepresented backgrounds, and who represent the first generation in their families to attend college, for postsecondary study and careers in science and technology. Miami-Dade Superintendent of Schools Alberto Carvalho met with the six Upward Bound students in attendance at the Gala, who had been chosen as finalists for a scholarship from JP Morgan Chase. Based on academic achievement, participation in the program, and a final essay, Alexander King was honored with the award, presented by JP Morgan Chase Managing Director Tony Baumer.
Following the Gala was the Big Bang, hosted by the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science’s Young Patrons under the leadership of Museum’s Thamiah Tutt. This was a chance to continue the party and dance the night away, as the winter wonderland transformed, thanks to support from Hubble Sponsor Perry Ellis and Cocktail Sponsor Bacardi, into an upscale nightclub, complete with a DJ, hors d’oeuvres, and an open cocktail bar.
Thanks to all of our Gold sponsors of the Gala: The Astor Companies, The Claudia and Steven Perles Family Foundation, and The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Major Event Underwriters included Bacardi, Neiman Marcus, JW Marriott Marquis, and Southern Wine & Spirits. Official Media sponsors of the Galaxy Gala and Big Bang were Miami Magazine, Selecta, and WPBT2.