ANA SANTOS / THE TALON
The National Museum of American History may not necessarily be the most austere of the Smithsonian museums, but it is certainly the most entertaining.
The museum’s youthful, pop culture-infused exhibits were a surprisingly suitable fit for this year’s Founders’ Day Ball, which celebrated the 120th anniversary of AU’s founding in 1893. All three floors of the museum were open to the attendees, including all of the exhibitions in the museum, turning the traditional ball into a deeper celebration of the past.
“When we first decided to focus on the 120th anniversary, we talked to [Vice President of Campus Life] Dr. [Gail] Hanson and [AU President] Dr. [Neil] Kerwin about what we wanted it to represent and how we wanted to celebrate that,” Student Government Vice President Palak Gosar said. “A lot of that is what went into picking the American History Museum as opposed to one of the other venues.”
The two other venues in consideration were the National Portrait Gallery and the National Building Museum, according to Gosar. But the American History Museum’s policy of keeping all their exhibits open for outside events such as the Founders’ Day Ball clinched the deal.
“It’s so cool that the whole museum is open for us to be around,” SOC sophomore Micah Parsons said. “It’s so festive. It’s prom meets an actual adult event. It’s a very strange fusion.”
Like any typical prom, students enjoyed a standard dance floor on the second level, DJ’d by AU alumnus Shea Mulcahy, who went by the name DJ Reoffender. A cover band made up entirely of current and former AU students, The Red Spetters, also performed for the first hour. But of course, the main draw of the event for many students was being able to dress up in floor-length gowns and complex hairdos.
“It’s nice to step out of the academic world because I feel like a lot of people are focused on schoolwork or club activities,” SOC sophomore Jasmine Lok said. “It’s nice to get dressed up and treat yourself.”
Because the Founders’ Day Ball is one of the few formal dances that AU hosts, the demand for tickets was high. In an attempt to remedy some of the ticketing controversies of last year, SG offered about 300 to 400 more tickets than last year, selling 100 tickets every day for two weeks, according to SG President Emily Yu. A total of 1,300 tickets were sold out to the student body, according to Gosar.
“I’m really glad that a lot more students were able to come this year than last year,” Yu said. “I think students were a lot happier with the fact that they had multiple opportunities to get their tickets.”
Despite the efforts to make the ticket-buying process more streamlined, many students still spent hours waiting in line. One casually-clad student—dressed in converse shoes, a flannel shirt, vest and tie—decided to make the most of his wait by dressing how he wanted.
“I just figured that this is my Founders’ Day ball that I’m coming to and I want to make it the way that I want it to be,” SIS sophomore Patrick Moran said. “I don’t want to dress up because that’s what people expect. If I wait four hours line, I ain’t gonna be in no tux!”
While some students may have had some qualms, most attendees agreed that the ball was an impressive achievement on AU’s part.
“I think it was a good mix of culture and fun,” SPA senior Andrew Erickson said. “It was really great that we could have this kind of historic event and put a twist on it so students can enjoy it.”