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NYT Journeys: Science Weekends

Project type:

Multi-day experience design

Announcement in The New York Times:


While I was overseeing Trip Design & Operations at Atlas Obscura, we had the opportunity to pitch the travel division of The New York Times with a co-branded travel offering. Their specifications: The trips should appeal to both the NYT and Atlas Obscura audiences, be three days long, and accommodate up to 80 participants.

While brainstorming trip concepts, I kept circling back to the sciences. I felt that the NYT’s core readership was well versed in the humanities, and less familiar with—but very curious to know more about—fields such as natural history, space, and the history of medicine. I narrowed in on LA and London as two popular destinations where travelers could easily extend their trips, and then grabbed a few poster-sized sheets of paper and began to map out how an 80-person, three-day weekend might take shape. Where could the group all come together, and when could smaller cohorts break off for more individualized activities? How could we orchestrate the logistics elegantly while ensuring opportunities for R&R as well as moments of surprise and delight?

Just a matter of months later, the trips took place. We brought inquisitive individuals into the Dino Lab at LA’s Natural History Museum, introduced them to an amputation “reenactment” at London’s Old Operating Theatre, and threw a white-tie dinner at the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries. It was wonderful to see people of various backgrounds explore new things and tickle their brains together.

Some of the small-group activities were more compelling in description and entertaining in execution than others. People would return from their respective excursions, swapping reports with contrasting levels of enthusiasm, leading to some grumbles. Had there been a second iteration of the trips, I’d have worked to revise, replace, and level-set as much as possible.

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