This is the one I’d been thinking about all year! On 18 July 2019 Royal Musuems Greenwich opened The Moon, an exhibition celebrating 50 years since the Apollo 11 Moon landings, and I had the privilege of opening the show. Not only is RMG the only institution outside of the US to be lent artefacts from the mission by the Smithsonian, but the night was also extra special because it marked Dr Kevin Fewster’s penultimate day as Director of Royal Museums Greenwich.
300 guests and staff arrived at The National Maritime Museum for a reception with bespoke stellar food and drink provided by Moving Venue, including ‘The Moon Walk’, a special concoction crafted by Joe Gifford of the Savoy Hotel in London on the occasion of The Moon landings and the first drink taken by Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins when they exited Quarantine.
Sir Charles Dunstone, RMG Board Chair and co-founder of Carphone Warhouse, kicked off the night with a rousing speech about Greenwich’s connection to space exploration, followed by a poignant speech by Director Dr Kevin Fewster on mans unwavering fascination with The Moon and a little known ancedote about Neil Armstrong’s visits to the Royal Observatory.
After the applause settled the crowds descended on the exhibitions, curated by Dr Melanie Vandenbrouck and Dr David Rooney. This blockbuster exhibitions includes Egyptian statuettes from 664-332 BCE, a copy of Earthrise by Major General William Anders and Buzz Aldrins Apollo 11 ‘Snoopy Cap’.
I introduced digital check-in to RMG for the first time, with ‘Snafflz’ guest listing app, which came in particularly handy when at half eight we siphoned off 90 guests for dinner in the iconic Great Hall of the Queens House. Entering via the carriageway to Inigo Jones is icon of a house of delight, the first Palladian building in the UK, a cubed 40ft square topped and tailed by a ceiling commission courtesy of Turner Prize winning artist Richard Wright and the original 350 year old Belgian black and Italian white marble floor.
The diners were there to celebrate The Moon but could deny the truth that a change of guard was imminent. First Sir Charles took to the podium again, followed by Lord Sterling of Plaistow GVCO, former Chairman of the museum, with another speech by Dr Fewster tracking the success of the museum and finally Mr Paddy Rodgers, incoming Director, insisting he had tough act to follow.
For a museum with a maritime focus, environmentalism is key to the vision of the Royal Museums Greenwich. In honouring that I, Director of Development Kate Seeckts, and caterers Moving Venue developed a special pescetarian menu for the evening. Desserts being a Moving Venue speciality, they did not disappoint, with a custom dark chocolate, coconut and passion fruit Moon!
It was a treat to work on this type of stylised theme event, all elements crafted from the the charger plates and tumblers to the exquisite Moon Orb LED lighting.
Big thanks Colin Head and Ash Event Productions for music, audio and lighting across both sites; to Katie Carter and Skye Thompson for unrivalled catering and especially to my colleagues Greta Milenova and Nick Babbs for ops support on the night including saving my neck a few times!
Photos – © National Maritime Musuem 2019
Marketing image – © NASA and Getty Images/Ian Cuming