Taxidermy, an aerial dance display, and 80s pop

Face-painting, crafting jungle crowns and eating bugs: all things relished by seven-year-olds monkeying around. And apparently, with the right setting, fully grown adults too.

The raging success of the most recent Museum Late at the National Museum of Scotland provided plenty of evidence that people are happy to let their maturity regress, especially if you give them access to alcohol.

The Lates are an attempt by the Museum to entice older audiences and promote their latest exhibit: Monkey Business, the theme for the night. Given the size of the crowd, it certainly seems to be working. Despite so many people, the risk of long queues and overcrowded exhibits was surprisingly well mitigated, in part due to the wide variety of options available.

The title exhibition offers a close look at over 60 taxidermy specimens of our simian friends (all of which died of natural causes). Many are mid-action, allowing for a physical snapshot of whatever mischief they would have gotten up to in the wild.

Giant interactive tablets bring an extra draw to the exhibit, and the over-18 entry requirement means you aren’t obliged to let small hobbits take over when you are halfway through.

While the splendour of the museum remained, the themed activities proved to be the real draw.

Those looking to become a baboon or cover their face in exquisite flowers generated the biggest queues at the face-painting stand (and time slot bookings allowed everyone to go off and explore the rest of the night’s delights, without fear of looking less than fabulous for their late-night selfies).

Those that didn’t feel like face-painting could still up their selfie game, with props and masks available at the Monkey House ‘selfie station’.

Primate pillow-talk required people to tap into their inner ape, and re-enact some of the poses used to woo mates in the wild or challenge a competitor.

For this activity, one person was given a scenario and body languages cues, then tasked with living out the scenario as an ape or monkey.

Surprisingly some of the actions can be seen in human body language too, although it has yet to be shown if throwing sticks on the floor then performing a pirouette will work as a pick up technique.

Meanwhile, Patisserie Maxime was on hand with free offerings of their meal-worm brownies and chocolate covered locusts.

The brownies made with ground up insects tasted no different to regular counterparts, although the crispy meal-worms on top did put quite a few off.

The biggest fun here was watching other visitors psyche themselves up to take on their mini ‘I’m a Celebrity’ challenge.

In the main hall, FreshAir DJs were on hand to get the dancefloor moving before headline act WHITE took the stage.

Merging 80s pop with modern Death From Above 1979-style riffs, WHITE did a fantastic job of getting the crowd into their groove.

Topping off the night were two performers dressed as monkeys showing off their skill with an aerial ribbon display to great applause from below.

Image: M J Richardson

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