The Big Bang Ball

Dinner with a Tyrannosaurus, indoor fireworks, 'rocket fuel' power The Big Bang Ball

Dinner with a Tyrannosaurus, indoor fireworks power The Big Bang Ball

Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, Morian Hall of Paleontology at HMNS
Guests dined with the dinosaurs at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Photo by Marcy de Luna
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, Kelli Weinzierl and Dragonfly designed by Matt Laurenza
Kelli Weinzierl with a jewel-encrusted dragonfly designed by Matt Laurenza. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, Ernie Cockrell, Stephanie Cockrell
Ernie Cockrell, Stephanie Cockrell. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, John Weinzierl, Kelli Weinzierl, Shawn Stephens Jordan, Jim Jordan
John Weinzierl, Kelli Weinzierl, Shawn Stephens Jordan, Jim Jordan. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, Curtis Hartman, Amy Hartman.
Curtis Hartman, Amy Hartman. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, Kelsey Fyffe, Gayla Wetz
Kelsey Fyffe, Gayla Wetz. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, Elise Lubanko, Kelley Lubanko
Elise Lubanko, Kelley Lubanko. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, Morian Hall of Paleontology at HMNS
Guests dined with the dinosaurs at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, Hallie Vanderhider, Bobbie Nau
Hallie Vanderhider, Bobbie Nau. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, Kristen Kelly, BJ Walker
Kristen Kelly, BJ Walker. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, Tony Petrello, Cynthia Petrello
Tony Petrello, Cynthia Petrello. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, fireworks
Fireworks at the Big Bang Ball. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, Morian Hall of Paleontology at HMNS
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, Kelli Weinzierl and Dragonfly designed by Matt Laurenza
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, Ernie Cockrell, Stephanie Cockrell
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, John Weinzierl, Kelli Weinzierl, Shawn Stephens Jordan, Jim Jordan
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, Curtis Hartman, Amy Hartman.
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, Kelsey Fyffe, Gayla Wetz
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, Elise Lubanko, Kelley Lubanko
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, Morian Hall of Paleontology at HMNS
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, Hallie Vanderhider, Bobbie Nau
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, Kristen Kelly, BJ Walker
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, Tony Petrello, Cynthia Petrello
Houston, HMNS Big Bang Ball, March 2017, fireworks

From indoor fireworks to private access to museum exhibits and a dinner with a Tyrannosaurus, it was a thrill-a-minute at the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s black-tie gala. 

The electrifying evening, themed “The Big Bang Ball,” captivated the 500 guests in attendance from the start as several giant sparklers, lined along the hallway from the entrance of the Cockrell Butterfly Center to the museum’s Grand Hall, shot off dazzling white flames. The eye-catching spectacle, along with the decor in a color scheme of pink, turquoise and purple, was created by Kirksey Gregg Productions

Making sure no one went thirsty, servers presented “rocket fuel,” a.k.a. lemon-flavored shots in test tubes, and smokin’ hot pink martinis mixed with liquid nitrogen, made by The Freezing Point.

Just beyond the Grand Hall was a silent auction with several unique items showcased in glass cases. At first glance, it was mistaken by many as an exhibit.

Jewelry, artwork, and gems, including a sensational orange sapphire from Sri Lanka, were up for bid. But it was the three large, jeweled-encrusted insects designed by Matthew Campbell Laurenza that were all the buzz. Valued between $165,000 to $295,000 apiece, each of the three insects, complete with moving parts, featured more than 1,000 carats of gemstones.

The auction layout ended at the entrance of the world-renowned Mummies of the World exhibit, open to gala guests for touring with cocktails in-hand. As if the night wasn’t already a smashing time. 

When the dinner bell rang, the crowd made their way to their tables, positioned throughout the museum, from the Frensley/Graham Hall of African Wildlife to the dinosaur-clad Morian Hall of Paleontology, where a drool-worthy steak dinner and grand chocolate dessert by City Kitchen was served.

Capping off the evening, the party moved back into the Grand Hall for late-night snacks, including “nitro” macarons on-a-stick, also by The Freezing Point, and free-flowing cocktails. Lively tunes, from disco to rock, performed by Houston show band, Infinite Groove, kept the night going until well past midnight. 

Chaired by Shawn Stephens and Jim Jordan, along with Kelli and John Weinzierl, the cosmic celebration raised over $850,000 in support of Houston Museum of Natural Science’s educational programs, benefiting school children in Houston and beyond.  

Also seen in the crowd were Laurie and Reed Morian, Amy and Gentry Lee, Wally Wilson and Jeanie Kilroy Wilson, Stephanie and Ernie Cockrell, Susanne and Bill Pritchard, Kelly and Bill Montgomery, Kathy and Peter Huddleston, Cynthia and Tony Petrello, Kim and Dan Tutcher, Bobbie Nau, Stuart Rosenberg, Monica and Fox Benton, Carolyn and Garry Tanner, Melinda and Sam Stubbs, Kelley and Steve Lubanko, Lainie Gordon and David Mincberg, and Houston Museum of Natural Science president Joel Bartsch and his wife Susanne.