Last June, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CMNH) turned the 100-year-old University Circle facility into a reimagined place where visitors can experience and live the science associated with our own evolution. We launched a three-year, $150 million project to change. .

Museum officials embarked on a project that included an expansion of the current facility, Complete reconstruction of exhibits and development of new public spaces. CMNH President and CEO Sonia Winner said the project is progressing well and is expected to be completed in December 2024.

“this is upon time When a bit under budget, which number 1 so far acquisition To Say’ she jokes. “And I’m the first woman to sign a beam on top.”

A rendering of the renovated Cleveland Museum of Natural History

More importantly, this large-scale project will make CMNH a more immersive experience that can be linked to events and phenomena that happened millions of years ago.

“This transformation is a reinvention of the natural history museum for the community,” explains Svenson. “Historically, museums have focused on becoming curiosity cabinets, aiming to show people something really neat and interesting. It has to be a community asset for the audience as a whole and the wider local community.”

In addition, earlier this month CMNH announced that it has received a $300,000 grant from the Jones Day Foundation to support transformational projects and educational programs. This investment will not only help the museum preserve its collection for future generations, but will also enhance its ability to create and distribute programming for a wide audience, especially the underserved northeast Ohio community. It also helps you raise.

Dr. Gavin Svensson, Chief Scientific Officer, Cleveland Museum of Natural HistoryThe grant will allow the museum to completely relocate its gallery exhibits, renovate its classrooms and learning spaces, build two new studios for its award-winning virtual excursion and learning experience program, and align with the new facilities. help develop innovative educational programs that

Svenson said the transformation will make the new CMNH more focused on hands-on learning. “It’s really hard to put yourself in the context of a 500 million year old, but we’re tapping resources that are millions of years old and there’s a clear human connection to that, so it’s a smart move to do that. There is a way,” he says. We seek to prove that humans are part of nature, and we must prove it through the collections we present. There is relevant information that everyone should care about. ”

new approach
According to last year’s survey, According to Svenson and Winner, 77% of Americans trust natural history museums and scientists to provide accurate scientific information.. Of that group, 85% said they would like to learn more about science. However, nearly half of those people say they are falling behind.

Cleveland’s iconic stegosaurus at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History“Historically, being a traditional natural history museum with a very traditional approach, we are really reinventing who we are to our community and trying to connect people with science.” says Svenson. “It’s not going according to the timeline like it used to, but [natural history] In the context of larger related questions that people usually ask in nature.

“We use objects in different ways to demonstrate and demonstrate the stories of the natural world and to build human connections. Both in how we are connected.

Museum officials worked together in planning the transformation Gallagher & Associates and Architectural Designer DLR Group Reorganize and expand museum space, adopting a hands-on learning approach in environments that encourage guests to ask questions about science and exhibit experts instead of using traditional compartmentalization .

Winer said the museum’s collection has about five million objects and specimens, and CMNH ranks among the top 10 natural history museums in the country.

“We’re not just showing the objects, we’re giving visitors the opportunity to ask questions about the objects and how they relate to all of this,” says Winner. “What is the impact on people? How does the decision you make when you go to the grocery store, vote, or manage your health affect not only your health, but the health of the planet? Huh?」

arouse curiosity
Curators answer questions in the museum’s Current Science Area. The winner says she found 80% of her visitors, especially children, to ask questions of staff.

“We are very excited to host a forum for people to bring in what they find in their backyards and discover those objects and what they mean to the natural world. I can help,” she said.

Svensson The Curiosity Center also encourages guests to bring in objects they find and ask questions, he adds. “The scientific staff here responds to hundreds of public inquiries from people who have found something in their backyard or who have been hiking and observed something really unique and interesting,” he says. . “They are asking questions all the time, and we have a way of supporting that and encouraging people to get used to asking those questions. It’s a fun place to be.”

A rendering of the renovated Cleveland Museum of Natural History

A 50,000-square-foot addition has been made to the former parking lot to serve as a welcome and orientation area and as a gateway to the rest of the museum.

The Wade Oval Entrance and Education Wing is scheduled to open in November. The museum also plans to open a restaurant in the oval. “You can see the building come to life,” he says Winner. It’s really very exciting to see the front of the building and people enjoy it and read newspapers and books on Sunday afternoons. ”

The new 10,000-square-foot Visitor’s Hall houses some of CMNH’s most popular exhibits, from the 3.2-million-year-old Australopithecus Lucy to Alaskan hero dog Balto, moon rocks on loan from NASA, and other interesting natural history samples. Many representative specimens will be on display. — and admission to this area is always free.

“So if you’re a family and you have young children who don’t have the attention span to explore the entire museum, they’ll still get a taste of the museum and enjoy it,” says Winner. .

A rendering of the renovated Cleveland Museum of Natural History Plus, with a grant from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, admission to the museum on Sundays is free for anyone living in Cleveland and East Cleveland. “From the Mandel Foundation he received a three-year grant to experiment and see how the community would be involved and interested,” he says.

It’s all about building relationships and developing an interest in natural history, Svenson says.

“One of our main goals is to build a lifelong learning relationship with the community rather than talking about it as an educational program or curriculum,” he says. “So when people say, ‘I want to go to the University Circle,’[I want to] It’s not just about going to museums, it’s about experiencing conversations with scientists, asking questions, and answering questions. And to go far beyond the usual venues, but to actually experience the real science. ”

The winner said, “Our goal is not necessarily more scientists, but more people who believe in science and love nature, because nature is the gateway to science.”

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