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Grandfather and Grandson Set Record for Sleepovers

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Gregory Cox and grandson Shane, 11, have camped out under the blue whale six times. Credit: © AMNH/C. Chesek


When Gregory Cox was a teenager attending the Food and Maritime Trades School in the 1960s, he sometimes took advantage of a midday switch from the East Side campus to the West Side to skip school and head to the American Museum of Natural History.

“I didn’t take the [school] bus, I took the subway,” he recalls over the phone from his home in Brooklyn. “They never caught me!”

Cox, who lives in Brooklyn, went on to a career in ship repair, like his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather before him. Now retired and a Family-level Member, he loves sharing his longstanding affection for the Museum with his grandchildren, Shannon Concalves and Shane and Shamus Drucker of Staten Island.

Contrary to Cox’s playing hooky, Shane, who is 11, uses extra schoolwork as an excuse to get his grandfather to take him to the Museum. “Every time he has a school project, he has to go there to research it first,” Cox says. “He loves it.”

Moreover, since the Museum inaugurated its Night at the Museum Sleepover program four years ago, it is a matter of special pride for Cox that he and Shane have spent six nights camping out under the blue whale in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.

“My grandson is bound and determined to have the record for most times,” Cox says.  So far, he has succeeded. “No one has come close,” says Leslie Martinez, who manages the program.

Cox is so keen on the sleepover experience that he carries around descriptions of the program he printed from the Museum’s website to hand out in doctors’ offices and elsewhere , encouraging others to experience the sleepovers for themselves. “I appreciate that he tells everyone about it,” says Martinez. “He’s a great support.”

At age 3, Cox’s youngest grandchild Shamus is still too young for a sleepover. Shannon, 16, was too old when the program began four years ago for kids 8 to 12 (the age range has since been expanded to 7 to 13), and although Cox says he saw her through an avid dinosaur phase when she was younger, she is now more likely to visit the Museum with a boyfriend. “She outgrew me,” he says, noting that, on the other hand, at Shane’s age “grandparents are everything.”

And even though Shane will outgrow the program in a few years, Cox still foresees many, many years of Museum visits and even sleepovers ahead. “By the time Shane outgrows me, I’ll have the little guy!” he says.

A version of this story originally appeared in the Winter issue of Rotunda, the magazine for Museum Members.

The next sleepover date is Saturday, April 16. For more details, visit amnh.org/sleepovers.

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