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Docent interpreting to teen under lights

Children using black lights to search for scorpions in rock wall

Guests under floodlit canopy in the Desert Garden

Docent interpreting to young child

Children using black lights to search for scorpions in rock wall

Docent with raptor on the glove at twilight
Photos above by Rhonda Spencer and Josh Schachter

Beat the Heat with
Cool Summer Nights 2014

Saturday Evenings — May 31 through August 30
Open until 10:00 p.m.

Special Programming (usually begins at 6:00 p.m.)

As summer temperatures simmer in the 100s, Arizona residents seek to keep cool and still stay active. A visit to the Desert Museum on Saturday nights has become a Tucson tradition.

With stunning sunsets, clear desert skies, gourmet dining, and animals miraculously appearing from their heat-induced daytime estivation, it's understandable why the magical-like Saturday nights have become so popular. This year, by popular demand, the Cool Summer Nights schedule has been expanded offering 14 nights to enjoy beginning Saturday, May 31st.

On opening night, the Museum will also unveil a new reptile exhibit, Snake! Rattle & Roll, introducing intriguing and lesser-known Mexican rattlesnakes from Sonora and Baja California.

A nighttime visit is just downright different from a daytime visit. The desert's nocturnal animals become active, bats turn into insect-seeking missiles, and scorpions glow under black lights. The Museum's highly trained and dedicated docents provide Sonoran Desert insights at interpretative stations scattered throughout the grounds.

Dining on summer Saturday evenings at the Museum is a culinary delight as the upscale Ocotillo Café is open for dinner. The intimate desert garden setting is the perfect backdrop for savory Sonoran recipes. Reservations are strongly recommended by calling 520-883-5705.

For taste-temping treats visit the Cottonwood Snack Shack located near the Riparian Corridor's otters and beavers. Indulge in a "build-your-own" ice cream sandwich — sure to be a hit with families!

Also open for dinner is the Ironwood Terraces Restaurant, the largest dining venue at the Desert Museum which offers a more casual atmosphere, either inside or outside on one of the many patios overlooking the desert landscape and nighttime vistas.

And just in case you forgot your black light, both gift shops will be open. You might consider starting your holiday shopping early!

Each summer Saturday night has a unique theme and special activities typically begin at 6:00 PM, although some do start earlier. Check the schedule below for weekly themes and activities.

Ongoing Nightly Events on Cool Summer Nights

Look for Museum Docents and Jr. Docents interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, animal eye shine, Sonoran Desert insects, night sounds, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, and/or rattlesnakes.

Check the Plan Your Visit board at the Entrance Patio for times and locations!


Weekly Themes & Activity Schedule

(See previous Saturday schedules)

A volunteer helps children collect mineral specimens in egg cartons

August 23 — Science Rocks! and Teacher Appreciation Night

In time for back-to-school, the Museum hosts an evening of science encounters. From mineral and rock interpretive stations to science demonstrations, the museum will demonstrate that science isn't static — it rocks! Enjoy presentations by the Physics Factory, a team of scientists and educators with a common goal: to share their enthusiasm for physics with students, teachers and the community. From hands-on learning to eye-popping stage shows, The Physics Factory demonstrates that physics is an exciting discovery process!

Scheduled Activities:

6:30 to 7:30 p.m. The Physics Factory
The Physics Factory offers an eye-popping show demonstrating the fascinating physics in our lives. Fun for the whole family!
7:00 to 10:00 p.m. Science Rocks!
Geology activities all around the Museum grounds — Rockin' the Rock Cycle, Mineral-Use Matching Games, Weird properties of minerals, glowing minerals, and more!
8:00 to 9:00 p.m. The Physics Factory
The Physics Factory offers an eye-popping show demonstrating the fascinating physics in our lives. Fun for the whole family!
8:00 to 8:45 p.m. Touch Tank Experience
Hold animals like sea stars, sea cucumbers, sea hares and turbo snails in your hands — in our Warden Aquarium.

August 30 — Go Batty for the Museum's Birthday!

Although the Museum turns 62 this year, it's not contemplating retirement! Tonight's festivities embrace everything that infuses the Museum with its unique approach to learning and loving the Sonoran Desert region. From a complimentary photography class, to "bat talks" from experts, to listening to bats communicate with bat detectors, to bat-themed birthday cakes, this night will be a fabulous fiesta of fun!

Poster for Night Photography

Help celebrate the Museum's birthday by supporting another great Southern Arizona institution: The Community Food Bank. Food Bank staffers will be on hand tonight to collect your donations, which helps to ensure that no child goes hungry.

The Food Bank is especially in need of these healthy items: canned chicken & tuna in water, low-sodium canned vegetables, brown rice, whole grain pasta, natural peanut butter, dry or canned beans & lentils, whole grain cereals, and canned fruits in natural juices.

Scheduled Activities:

6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Desert Museum Birthday Cakes Display
Join in the fun and check out all the fabulous birthday cakes donated by Tucson bakeries and themed for Going Batty! See them all before they are cut!
6:30 to 9:00 p.m. Children's Art Activities
Bring the whole family for bat and night-themed art and craft activities.
6:30 to 7:15 p.m. All About Bats Presentation
What animal is blind, gets tangled in your hair, and is basically just a flying mouse? Whatever it is, it's not a bat. Myths about bats are plentiful, but the facts about these fascinating creatures are far more interesting. Learn all about these amazing mammals from Crystal Holcombe, Desert Museum Animal Keeper.
7:45 p.m. Desert Museum Birthday Celebration!
You'll want to be on hand as the cakes are cut and to celebrate, sing, and sample! It's the biggest birthday celebration ever!
8:00 to 8:45 p.m. Touch Tank Experience
Hold animals like sea stars, sea cucumbers, sea hares and turbo snails in your hands — in our Warden Aquarium.
8:00 to 9:00 p.m. Photography Class: Night Photography
Poster for Night Photography
Join ASDM Art Institute Instructor Jay Pierstorff and ASDM Photographer Rhonda Spencer in this fun, fast-paced photo class.