With a cocktail in hand, you can touch Candy Cane Coral, the skulls of big cats or a replica spacesuit at Discovery Place — experiences not usually available — then listen to world explorers who are experts in those areas, in a three-part national series coming to Charlotte for the first time.
"National Geographic Live!" will start Oct. 23, a collaboration between Blumenthal Performing Arts and Discovery Place Science. Each of the three events will feature National Geographic photographers and researchers sharing their explorations: oceans, outer space and big cats.
Here's one of the first presenters, talking about how he first got into the field:
“It really is about bringing the world to Charlotte in ways that the public hasn’t been able to see before,” said Catherine Horne, president and CEO of Discovery Place.
The evening will begin with beverages and activities at Discovery Place, and a chance to meet the speakers. After the pre-party, attendees will walk across the street to McGlohon Theater for the talks.
Tom Gabbard, president and CEO of Blumenthal Performing Arts, said the venue lets visitors be close to the speakers and get a high-quality look at the photos and videos.
First up: David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes, a photographic team specializing in underwater imagery. Next will be Terry Virts, a former U.S. Air Force officer and International Space Station Commander; and finally, Steve Winter, a photojournalist who has documented big cats for decades.
Through Discovery Place collections and exhibits, and with the help of UNC Charlotte research partners, attendees can do activities related to each topic —watch a show in the StarLab planetarium, examine 3D-printed replicas of big-cat claws and teeth, and learn about coral reproduction.
“Not only will they have a chance to hear from an expert, but socially they’ll have a chance to meet and engage with other people like them that are curious and interested in learning more about the world,” Gabbard said.
Series tickets — about $80 each — go on sale June 15, and admit buyers to all three pre-show parties at Discovery Place and the three speaker presentations on Oct. 23, Jan. 29 and March 26.
School groups can request daytime student versions of the presentations by contacting Discovery Place.
Gabbard said Blumenthal and Discovery Place have sought a way to partner for years, and "National Geographic Live!" was the right match. They'll take suggestions and feedback, he said, to improve the series as they go.