Night of Ideas 2019

The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County Brings 'Night of Ideas,' to L.A.


Friday, February 1, 2019 

L.A. line-up includes “Liminal Sound Bath” with Jónsi (of Sigur Rós), Alex Somers, and Paul Corley; vegan fashion show produced by Le Frenchlab; panel discussions and mini-talks on the environment and future cities with U.S. and French thought leaders; live DJs and musical performances; French film screenings; science speed dating and much more.

Los Angeles, January 7, 2018—On February 1, 2019, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County 
(NHM), in collaboration with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, will present the Los Angeles program
for ‘Night of Ideas’ (La Nuit des Idées), an annual, worldwide event that celebrates the stream of ideas
between countries, cultures, and generations. The NHM event is part of a five-city U.S. series of these all-night
 marathons featuring discussions, screenings and performances. The Los Angeles line-up features a live
“Liminal Sound Bath” with Jónsi of Sigur Rós, Alex Somers, and Paul Corley—an experience that unfolds in the
landmark North American Mammal Hall. There will also be a performance about climate change by Los 
Angeles Baroque, led by seismologist Lucy Jones; a vegan fashion show organized by Emmanuelle Rienda and 
Le Frenchlab to kick off Vegan Fashion Week; screenings of French films from the Fonds régionaux d’art
contemporain (Regional collections of contemporary art – Frac); and musical performances by DJ Bobby
French and DJ Mr. Swift. Prominent speakers and panelists will include architect Kulapat Yantrasast, President
 of the French National Museum of Natural History Bruno David, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Robert

“We are thrilled to bring together this international group of thought leaders and artists to focus on some of
the most pressing issues we face in our world, including global climate change,” said Lori Bettison-Varga, NHM
President and Director. “I think that by investigating this intersection of science and art, and collaborating with
the French Embassy to host guests of this caliber and diversity, participants will be inspired in new ways to
perceive global challenges and, more importantly, effect change.”

“It is an honor to partner with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County to host the annual Night of
Ideas festival,” commented Christophe Lemoine, Consul General of France in Los Angeles. “This historic and
 beloved institution, which is driven to explore both the past and the present, is the ideal setting for guests to
explore these topics through new collaborations and dialogues.”

Each year, Night of Ideas provides the opportunity for people around the globe to learn about and discuss the
latest discoveries and prominent issues facing the world today. This is the second time this event, coordinated 
worldwide by the Institut Français and spanning five continents in 2019, will take place in Los Angeles; it was
previously held at Bergamot Station Art Center in 2017. For the first time this year, the Cultural Services of the
French Embassy, in partnership with the Institut Français, Paris, and local partners, have organized a U.S. series
of Night of Ideas / A Night of Philosophy & Ideas programs—with events in Washington D.C., Houston, San
 Francisco, Brooklyn, and L.A.

This year’s Night of Ideas theme, “Facing Our Time,” explores questions related to the nature of our current
 political, social, and ecological moment, ways to effect change in response, and the power of imagination and
creativity. The Night of Ideas event in Los Angeles is organized by NHM and the Consulate General of France in
Los Angeles, to explore ecological and climate change though an interdisciplinary lens at the intersection of
science, nature, and art. NHM will activate its galleries, diorama halls, theater and public spaces, inviting
intellectuals, researchers, musicians, and artists to illuminate these topics through engaging lectures and
 conversations, live musical and dance performances, readings, art installations, screenings, and much more.

Night of Ideas will take over the entire museum, activating each of the halls, labs, and rotunda. Each space will
host a range of different activities, from panel discussions about the effects of climate change on your wallet
and mini lectures on restoring our watershed, to all-night DJ’d dance parties, and a performance about climate
change by Los Angeles Baroque led by Lucy Jones. The evening will also feature an intimate site-specific
 Liminal Sound Bath from Jónsi (of Sigur Rós), Alex Somers, and Paul Corley within the landmark North
American Mammal Hall. Listeners will lie on mats that radiate out from the musicians, transported by ambient
sounds and a playlist adapted for the space that includes field wildlife recordings. The soundscape of Liminal
filling the hall, as listeners commune with gray wolves, caribou, and polar bears, promises to be an 
unparalleled experience.

Additionally, the famed NHM rotunda will host two rounds of scientific speed dating where guests will have
the opportunity to sit around a table in an intimate setting while the museum’s scientists lead discussions on
their scientific topic of choice before rotating to the next. Details about each activation are below.
 Night of Ideas is free to the public. 



The North American Mammal Hall will feature an array of different events throughout the evening’s festivities
 including a discussion and performance by Los Angeles Baroque, “Mathemagic” with Arthur Benjamin, a vegan fashion show by Le Frenchlab, and more.

Los Angeles Baroque, L.A.'s only community baroque orchestra will kick off the evening with a
 discussion and performance about climate change

Mathemagic with Arthur Benjamin, mathematics professor who performs rapid mental calculations
 and explains his methodology

Welcome Remarks by Lori Bettison-Varga, NHM’s President and Director, and Christophe Lemoine,
 Consul General of France in Los Angeles

Vegan Fashion Show featuring looks from the industry’s premier high-end ethical practices to create a
 global community where fashion meets activism with a deeply conscious twist

Liminal Sound Bath with Jónsi (of Sigur Rós), Alex Somers, and Paul Corley


Building in a Time of Collapse with Nicola Delon, Architect, Founding Partner of Encor Heureux, and
Kulapat Yantrasast, Architect, Founding Partner, Creative Director of wHY Architecture, moderated by
Jon Christiansen

Climaticism: Literature in the Era of Global Warming with architect Philippe Rahm, UCLA’s Caroline
Ford, and UC Santa Cruz’s Karen Tei Yamashita, moderated by Dominic Thomas, Chair of the
Department of French and Francophone Studies at UCLA

Screening of 16 Sunrises Film, which features Thomas Pesquet, French aerospace engineer, pilot, and
European Space Agency astronaut

Guests are invited to join panelists in the North American Mammal Hall throughout the evening for panel
discussions moderated by Patt Morrison. Each panel, lasting approximately 45-60 minutes, will explore a range
of topics including the impact of climate change on your wallet, the human ability to adapt to extreme
climates, urban sustainability and more. A full list of the panels and participants is below.

Your Money or Your Life? Climate Change’s Tradeoffs in $ and € (WORKING TITLE) with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Prize laureate Robert Lempert, Director, Frederick S. Pardee Center for Longer Range Global Policy and
the Future Human Condition, Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School, and Nathalie Blanc, Director
of Research at Paris Diderot University, France

There’s No Place That’s Home: Humans in Extreme-Climate Places (WORKING TITLE) with Christian
Clot, creator of the HAIS (Human Adaptability in Situ), and Shane Campbell-Staton, evolutionary
biologist at UCLA

Bright Green, Big City: Urban Livability Amid Climate Crisis (WORKING TITLE) with Lauren Faber
O’Connor, Los Angeles Chief Sustainability Officer; and Matt Petersen, President and CEO of the Los
Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI).

Lions and Tigers and Bears, No More: Can the Animal Kingdom Survive Climate Chaos? (WORKING
TITLE) with Yves Frénot, Counselor for Science and Technology at the Embassy of France in the United
States in D.C.; Ursula K. Heise, the Marcia H. Howard Chair in Literary Studies at the Department of
English and the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA; and Mark Gold, Director at
UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability


Join a renowned group of architects, biologists, climate change experts, and more for series of mini lectures in
the Age of Mammals exhibition. Lasting approximately 20-25 minutes, each lecture will focus on a different
 aspect of climate change and how we, as humans, can make an impact on our future.

Sustainable Architecture with Philippe Rahm, Architect

Restoring Watersheds with Valer Clark, who has dedicated herself to preserving and restoring
 biodiversity of the borderland region between the U.S. and Mexico, and Juliette Bouquerel, founder of
 Be Your Change Media

No Nature, No Future: Museum Manifesto with Bruno David, President of the French National 
Museum of Natural History

How Climate Change Killed Past Civilizations with Damien Leloup, maritime archaeologist and

Hot Weather, Hot Wine with Kevin Pogue, Professor of Geology at Whitman College

Extreme Environments with François-Michel Letourneau, geographer and senior research fellow at
the French National Center for Scientific Research


Over the course of 90 minutes in speed dating style, guests will have an opportunity to learn from and interact
with 6 different scientists, excavators, and more on a range of topics without ever leaving their seats.
 Throughout the sessions, NHM’s scientists will move from table to table, leading discussions on scientific
topics of their choice.


• L.A. Mammals - Get Rid of All House Cats? with Miguel Ordeñana, Community Science Manager
 and Wildlife Biologist at NHM

• Native and Non-native Plants: Do Natives Matter? with Daniel Feldman, Head Gardener at

• Changing Oceans with Regina Wetzer, Associate Curator & Director of the Marine Biodiversity
 Center at NHM

• Why Synthetics? with Saskia Wilson-Brown, Founder and Executive Director of the Institute of
Art and Olfaction

• Anthropocene with Emily Lindsey, Assistant Curator and Excavation Site Director at La Brea Tar

• Entomophagy with Alie Ward, Ologies podcast host


• Mars: Plan B with Clifford Johnson, Professor in the Physics and Astronomy at USC

• Green Mobility with Joe Linton, bike and L.A. River activist and author

• What Would Happen If All of the Minerals in the Ocean Dissolve? with Aaron Celestian,
 Associate Curator of Mineral Sciences at NHM

• Invasive Earth Worms? with Kirk Fitzhugh, Curator of Polychaetes at NHM

• Eating Invasives? With Jann Vendetti, Twila Bratcher Chair in Malacological Research at NHM


The African Mammal Hall will host to three outstanding DJs throughout the evening. Guests are invited to join
DJ Novena Carmel, DJ Bobby French and DJ Mr. Swift for dancing and mingling.
A screening of A Border in the Jungle and a question and answer session with Francois-Michel Le Tourneau
 will be hosted in a gallery space (TBD).

About the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC)

The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County include the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park
(NHM), La Brea Tar Pits in mid-Wilshire/Hancock Park, and the William S. Hart Museum in Newhall. They
 operate under the collective vision to inspire wonder, discovery, and responsibility for our natural and cultural
worlds. The museums hold one of the world’s most extensive and valuable collections of natural and cultural 
history—more than 35 million objects. Using these collections for groundbreaking scientific and historic
research, the museums also incorporate them into on- and offsite nature and culture exploration in L.A.
neighborhoods, and in a slate of community science programs. This creates a new natural history museum
experience that explores the past, but increasingly addresses the present and the future.

NHM is located at 900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Visit

About A Night of Philosophy & Ideas

Night of Ideas is a marathon of philosophical debate, performances, screenings, readings, and music produced
in connection with La Nuit des Idées, an annual world-wide event organized by the Institut Français, Paris.
Since 2015, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy has co-produced intellectual marathons in the U.S.
The first Los Angeles edition took place in 2017.

This kind of intellectual marathon is now being expanded
 around the country, taking different shapes and names depending on regional partners and local expectations. The events will take place in five U.S. cities: Houston (Jan. 26 at Rice University’s Moody Center for the Arts);
Washington D.C. (Jan. 31 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden); Los Angeles (Feb. 1 at the Natural
History Museum of Los Angeles County); San Francisco (Feb. 2 at the San Francisco Public Library); and New
York City (Feb. 2 at the Brooklyn Public Library). All events are co-produced by the Cultural Services of the French
 Embassy, the Institut Français, Paris, and local partners.

Night of Ideas is an evening program that aims to encourage and foster discussion across cultures and
 generations. Talented artists, top-name musicians, and panels in various formats will engage and challenge
audiences. NHM will be open to explore with pop-up performances, installations, real-time illustrators, and
video screenings in historic halls and brand-new exhibitions. Learn more about the event by visiting

About the Cultural Services of the French Embassy

The Cultural Services of the French Embassy promotes the best of French arts, literature, cinema, digital
 innovation, language, and higher education across the US. Based in New York City, Washington D.C., and eight
 other cities across the country, the Cultural Services brings artists, authors, intellectuals, and innovators to
cities nationwide. It also builds partnerships between French and American artists, institutions, and universities on both sides of the Atlantic. In New York, through its bookshop Albertine, it fosters French-American exchange around literature and the arts. Learn more at

About the Consulate General of France in the U.S.

The Consulate General of France in Los Angeles is a consular representation of the French Republic in
the United States. Its jurisdiction covers the Southwest region: Southern California, Southern Nevada, Arizona,
Colorado and New Mexico. Under the authority of the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs (the equivalent
of the Department of State in the United States), the Consulate General of France is responsible for the
protection and the administrative affairs of French nationals living or traveling in the five states of its 

The Consulate is comprised of a political Chancellery, a consular section providing various administrative
services to the French community and to those who desire to travel to France, an Office for Science and
Technology, an Office for Cultural Affairs and Creative Industries, a Press and Communication Department and
a French Tech Department. Therefore, one of the roles of the Consulate General of France in Los Angeles is to provide a platform for
exchange and innovation among French and American artists, academics, educators, students, tech
communities, scientists and the general public.

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