“I really want to be friends with a whale,” Mikey Day, the “Saturday Night Live” cast member, said this week as he stood inside the American Museum of Natural History and discussed his favorite displays. “They just look so magical.”
“Sorry, it’s Thursday,” he continued. “I just came from work, and my brain is fried.”
In keeping with a longstanding tradition, members of the cast of “Saturday Night Live,” deep in preparations for their upcoming show, put on tuxedos and feathery gowns to join benefactors of the American Museum of Natural History for the institution’s largest annual fund-raiser, held at the museum in Manhattan.
“It’s always a nice cast bonding moment,” the “S.N.L.” cast member Bowen Yang said on a red carpet near the large dinosaur models in the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda. “It’s like a perfect little reception for the new people.”
The gala was chaired by Lorne Michaels, the creator and executive producer of “S.N.L.”; his wife, Alice Barry; the writer and actress, Tina Fey, who was once the show’s head writer; and her husband, the composer Jeff Richmond.
Mr. Michaels, a longtime member of the museum’s board, is such an established supporter that in 2012, a species of daddy longlegs newly identified by a museum scientist was named the Stylocellus lornei in his honor.
“That’s how you live forever, man,” said Kenan Thompson, an “S.N.L.” cast member. “I want to find a special species of praying mantis for myself.”
The event, with Seth Meyers, also an “S.N.L.” alum, as master of ceremonies, raised more than $2.5 million to support the museum’s programming. It was the first museum gala since Sean M. Decatur started as president, and since the Gilder Center, a new $465 million wing, opened this spring.
After cocktails, more than 450 attendees filled the Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life. The crowd included Senator Chuck Schumer, Alec Baldwin, Scarlett Johansson, Colin Jost, Emma Stone, who is scheduled to host this week’s episode of “S.N.L.,” and her husband, Dave McCary, who has produced short films for the show. They sat at tables decorated with white flowers for a dinner of beet and burrata salad followed by jerk short rib, and for a live auction.
“We’ve wanted to come play this evening for many years,” Marcus Mumford told the room during dessert as his band, Mumford & Sons, performed some of its hits. The band gradually brought the crowd to its feet, and attendees in strapless ball gowns circled the stage, dancing under the long blue whale.
Below, see photos from galas for the American Museum of Natural History and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater held in New York City this week.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Opening Night Gala
“I’m just bursting with excitement,” the Broadway actress LaChanze said as she posed on a red carpet on Wednesday night inside New York City Center in Midtown Manhattan. “I look forward to this all year.”
It was the opening night gala for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s 65th anniversary season. The event, which drew about 600 people, including Lena Waithe, the screenwriter; Bianca Lawson, the actress; and André Holland, the actor, raised $2.5 million for the company.
The gala was chaired by Cynthia Erivo, the actress and singer, and Sunny Hostin, a co-host on “The View,” and honored the choreographer Judith Jamison, 80, who succeeded the company’s founder as its artistic director in 1989 and led it for two decades.
“It’s great we get to celebrate Ms. Jamison and all the work she’s done,” Ms. Erivo said on the red carpet.
The mood at this year’s celebration was tempered by the company’s unexpected announcement that Robert Battle — who, as the theater’s director for more than a decade, expanded the repertory and programmed pieces on difficult subjects like gun violence and mass incarceration — would resign from his position immediately because of unspecified health concerns.
“It’s a difficult time, but I think we pride ourselves in honoring all that he’s brought and having a responsibility of continuing it,” said Matthew Rushing, the Ailey’s associate artistic director, who is leading the company while the board of trustees completes a search for a new director.
The evening began with a short speech by Ms. Jamison — in a gold sash and black Hokas — who thanked the company for the honor and expressed excitement about the next generation of dancers.
Her remarks were followed by a two-part piece choreographed for the evening, set to “Feeling Good” by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley and “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell, both sung by Ms. Erivo. The work was choreographed for half a dozen Ailey dancers by the former Ailey dancer Hope Boykin.
After an intermission, dancers performed Alvin Ailey’s best-known work, “Revelations,” a 36-minute exploration of grief and joy, featuring spirituals, gospel songs and blues sung by a live choir.
Performances were followed by dinner — watermelon radish salad, braised beef short rib and Sichuan pepper strawberry cheesecake — and dancing at the Ziegfeld Ballroom.
Around midnight, “Freak out!” came the call through the speakers, and a few hundred bodies busted a last dance move on the ballroom floor before climbing into cars to go home.