Better Makers: Museum of Science and Industry Black Creativity Gala Celebrates Innovative STEM Programming

Better Makers: Museum of Science and Industry Black Creativity Gala Explores Innovative STEM Programming

The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) is a playground for the budding mind. MSI’s leading Black Creativity programming made its annual return to the museum in January, featuring the largest Juried Art Exhibition in Black Creativity history. MSI’s annual art gallery is the longest-running exhibition of African-American art in the country, dating back to 1970.

Under MSI’s Welcome to Science Initiative, the Black Creativity program celebrates the scientific, artistic, and technological achievements of African-American makers, while inviting kids and families to explore new ideas and discover their creative genius.

The 36th annual Black Creativity Gala was held Jan. 26 at the Museum of Science and Industry, drawing 750 guests. The annual black-tie event supports MSI’s Black Creativity programming, raising $475,000 for 2019.

David Mosena, president and CEO of the Museum of Science and Industry, welcomed guests to the highly anticipated night at the museum. “I want to remind you … about why we’re here tonight,” Mosena said. “Remind you that you’re helping to make amazing things happen by you being here tonight. Black Creativity is the opportunity to show what happens when the spark of curiosity inspires us. And especially inspires our youth. To create, to innovate, and to keep questioning the world around us.”

Upon arrival, guests were immediately transported to a world of innovation and creativity, starting with the Juried Art Exhibition and cocktail hour. This year, the gallery included a record 170 works of art from emerging and professional African-American artists; one quarter of which were created by Chicago students.

Inspired dinner stations, courtesy of Sodexo, were dispersed throughout the museum. Guests enjoyed a variety of fare from seafood to southern, poutine to poke, braised bison to beautiful bite-size truffles.

The night was filled with nonstop live musical entertainment, emceed by WGN Meteorologist Demetrius Ivory. Chicago Children’s Choir’s Englewood Neighborhood Choir kicked off the festivities with a show-stopping performance. The Nanette Frank Jazz Orchestra and DJ Nick “Nonstop” Nicholson followed, continuing the energy as guests filled the dance floor.

The museum’s renowned exhibits and hands-on experiences were open for an evening of exploration. The Innovation Studio was one popular destination among guests. The studio invites young inventors to create innovative solutions to real-world challenges using a box of everyday essentials, like coffee filters and pipe cleaners.

The concept of using simple supplies in place of technology in a digitally run world may seem regressive, when in reality, the genius lies in the simplicity of the tools. In an interview with WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight,” Manny Juarez, director of science and integrated strategies at the Museum of Science and Industry shares the genius behind the concept.

“It’s a way of thinking, it’s a way of problem solving that we introduce to them….” Juarez said. “Technology is important, but certainly having an analog way of solving problems, having them understand that this is a way you could do this with everyday materials. It’s more about the ideas that come out, not necessarily the models or the drawings that they produce.”

Guests were also welcomed to explore MSI favorites like Extreme Ice, Numbers in Nature: A Mirror Maze, Science Storms, and The Great Train Story.

The 2019 Gala was co-chaired by Dr. Eric Whitaker, chairman and CEO of TWG Partners, LLC; Dr. Cheryl R. Whitaker, chairman and CEO of NextLevel Health Partners, Inc.; and Cheryl Harris, senior vice president of Sourcing & Procurement Solutions at Allstate Insurance Company.

Black Creativity season sponsors include Allstate Insurance Company, NextLevel Health Partners, Inc., and TWG Partners, LLC. Event partners include Sodexo and Revel Decor.

museum of science and industry: Cheryl Harris, Brian Harris, David Mosena, Pat Mosena, Dr. Cheryl R. Whitaker, Dr. Eric E. Whitaker
Co-chair Cheryl Harris and her husband Brian (left), MSI President and CEO David Mosena and wife Pat Mosena (middle), and Co-chairs Dr. Cheryl R. Whitaker and Dr. Eric E. Whitaker (right). (Photo by J.B. Spector.)
museum of science and industry: Demetrius Ivory, WGN
Emcee Demetrius Ivory gives the opening remarks at the 2019 Black Creativity Gala. (Photo by Kasumi Chow.)
museum of science and industry: Chicago Children's Choir at the Black Creativity Gala
The Chicago Children’s Choir Englewood Neighborhood Choir performs at the Black Creativity Gala. (Photo by Kasumi Chow.)
museum of science and industry: Frank Walton, Peggy Montes, Pam Walton
Frank Walton, Peggy Montes, and Pam Walton (Photo by John Wheeler.)
museum of science and industry: Bryan Echols, Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton
Bryan Echols and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton (Photo by John Wheeler.)
museum of science and industry: Kelly Tomblin, Matt Turk
Kelly Tomblin and Matt Turk (Photo by John Wheeler.)
museum of science and industry: Cedric Thurman, Michelle Speller Thurman, David Nichols, Charmaine Nichols
Cedric Thurman, Michelle Speller-Thurman, and David and Charmaine Nichols (Photo by John Wheeler.)
museum of science and industry: Black Creativity Gala, Juried Art Exhibition
Guests enjoy MSI’s Juried Art Exhibition. (Photo by John Wheeler.)
museum of science and industry: Black Creativity Gala
Gala decor in the MSI rotunda. (Photo by Kasumi Chow.)
museum of science and industry: Innovation Studio
Impact: The Innovation Studio provides a creative space to inspire young inventors about future possibilities and opportunities in science, technology, engineering, art, and medicine. (Photo by J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago.)

Emily Stone is Associate Editor at Make It Better. She earned a degree in journalism from Elon University in North Carolina. Along with writing, Stone has a passion for digital storytelling and photography. Her work is published in Chicago Athlete Magazine. Stone is a supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Stone is a fluent Spanish speaker who in her free time loves a good dance class.