About Tangata at the Bowers MuseumAs you walk through the entrance arch of the museum’s Mission-style belltower, you leave the city streets behind and enter a far more satisfying world. Suddenly you’re in a quiet courtyard, so serene and lovely you can’t believe it exists in the middle of town.
Looking around, you quickly realize that the reason this haven feels so secluded is because it’s completely enclosed by the museum buildings. To your left is a 1930s hacienda, with a second-floor balcony and a sun-dappled garden. Forming an L-shape to your right and behind you is an inviting arcade, whose shady interior offers a cool contrast to the buildings’ bright white walls and red-tile roofs. At the far end of the courtyard is a sunny terrace, backed by the museum’s new wing, which houses some striking event spaces including a gourmet restaurant, Tangata. And linking them all is a broad tree-shaded lawn in the center, bordered by flowers, palms and cacti.
The Courtyard is a natural for weddings. A wide stairway leading down from the hacienda’s second story provides a graceful entrance for the bride. Vows are exchanged anywhere in the Courtyard you like—beneath the bell tower, under the hacienda’s balcony or in front of the statue. Afterwards, the reception is usually held here, too, with tables set up on the lawn and patios. You can also turn the arcade into an open-air dining room; softly lit at night, it makes a very romantic setting.
Another option is hosting your reception in Tangata. Opened in 2000 by famed restaurateur and chef Joachim Splichal, the restaurant serves a diverse menu of California cuisine, "colored" with Splichal’s signature French style. In the main dining room natural light flows in through large picture windows, illuminating the Mediterranean décor. Al fresco dining takes place outside on Tangata’s two-tiered patio, which overlooks the courtyard.
The Museum’s interior spaces also lend themselves to a variety of events. The Fluor & Family Gallery, located on the second floor of the hacienda building, accommodates upscale dinners, cocktail receptions and small ceremonies. The ambiance here is Old World, thanks to the stunning beamed ceiling inset with vibrant murals. These colorful paintings, as well as the exhibits in this room, depict the history of Orange County and California. A stained-glass window at one end also makes the space feel a little like a chapel. The gallery opens out onto a balcony, giving you the option of having cocktails outdoors and a sophisticated sit-down dinner inside. However, one corporation actually hosted a medieval banquet on the balcony itself, seating 40 people around a long table set with candelabras.
Other conference and meeting rooms are available, and for corporate parties you can arrange to have specific exhibits, and even the gift store, kept open for your event. It’s a rare facility that has everything—drama, beauty, excitement and good food—but the Bowers Museum delivers on all counts. So take that walk through the belltower entrance and be enchanted. You won’t believe you’re in a museum, and you’ll be ever so grateful you stopped by.
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