Behind the Scenes: Night at the History Museum

Have you ever wondered what the History Center is like after the visitors leave?

Recently, nearly 150 Girl Scouts and their chaperones discovered first hand at the Night at the History Museum overnight, presented in partnership with the Girl Scouts of Western Pennsylvania.

When the Girl Scouts arrived, they were greeted with some troubling news. You see, every night throughout the museum, historical figures come to life in the exhibits thanks to the magical power of a Celeron plate, an “artifact” from the mid 1700s, when the French explored modern day Western Pennsylvania. But this night was a little different.

Grizz the bear in the Rediscovering Lewis and Clark exhibition at the Heinz History Center

As the story goes, Grizz, the mischievous bear from the Rediscovering Lewis & Clark exhibition, broke the Celeron plate and spread the pieces throughout the History Center. If the Girl Scouts could not find all of the pieces soon, none of the life-like figures would be able to roam the History Center ever again.

Girl Scouts with Rosie the Riveter.
Girl Scouts talk with an 18th century sailor from the Royal Navy.

The Girl Scouts broke into groups and went on a hunt for the pieces of the plate with museum docents serving as “security guards.” Along the way, the Girl Scouts met Rosie the Riveter and H.J. Heinz, among other life-like figures, who told them about their experiences in Pittsburgh. Rosie told the Girl Scouts about the many important roles women played during World War II, while an 18th century sailor helped them imagine what it would be like to part of the Royal Navy during the French & Indian War.

Girl Scouts with the Celeron plate pieces they discovered in the museum.

Fortunately, the Girl Scouts saved the day and found all of the pieces of the Celeron plate, ensuring that the life-like figures could roam the museum again the next night.

After their hard work re-assembling the Celeron plate, the Girl Scouts settled in for snacks and a movie in the Mueller Education Center. The following morning, they had breakfast and were able to explore the museum by day with the life-like figures back in their original locations. It’s only be a matter of time before they came to life again for the next group of scouts who come for an overnighter at the History Center!

For more information about the History Center’s scouting programs, including Night at the History Museum, Scout Badge Days, and drop-in activities, visit the Scouts page or contact Education Programs Coordinator Nate Rodda at or 412-454-6433.

Nate Rodda is the education programs coordinator at the Heinz History Center.

Date May 12, 2016
  • Nate Rodda