Evolution continues: The Natural History Museum will unveil renovations and new exhibits this week

Evolution continues: The Natural History Museum will unveil renovations and new exhibits this week

Eighteen months into its $150 million expansion and renovation project, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CMNH) will invite visitors on Wednesday, December 7 to explore the new and redesigned spaces and exhibits that have already been completed.

Officials have pledged to keep the museum open throughout this four-year transformation that will expand the museum building and outdoor visitor areas to more than 375,000 square feet. It will be closed on Tuesday December 6 before reopening on Wednesday and offering free entry to show progress.

Shafran Planetarium, closed for a year, reopens with software upgrade to Digistar 7“We are in the midst of transformation,” says Gavin Svenson, CMNH’s scientific director. “We have adopted a plan to ensure that visitors can come and visit the museum as we move forward with this project.”

As the museum reaches the midpoint of the project, which is expected to be completed in 2024, officials will show progress this week with the reopening of the Smead Discovery Center – presented by PNC and the Nathan and Fannye Shafran Planetarium, as well as a look at the captivating experiences that visitors will have in the transformed Museum.

This month, the Museum will also unveil installations of famous works of art.

In addition to the Discovery Center and Planetarium, other new additions to this segment of the transformation include 3D movies in the Murch Auditorium; an exhibition space focused on art and nature; valued educational spaces; the new Origins Café; two temporary exhibitions using virtual reality; and theIncredible insects exhibition, featuring the smallest species in the world.

Svenson notes that although the $150 million transformation project began in June 2021, updates and improvements to CMNH have continued since 2016, first with the Perkins Wildlife Center, gardens and a new parking lot in 2016; then the opening in 2020 of a current science exhibit and an upgraded auditorium and courtyard.

He says this latest round of renovations is impressive. “The first time I walked into the finished space, I felt great,” he says. “It feels good to be in there, it’s a cool experience.”

A new approach
Svenson says visitors will notice the changes the first time they approach the museum’s new entrance on Wade Oval. “When visitors stand on Wade Oval, they see what is designed to look like a glacier, and the glacier element continues into the building itself,” he explains. “That excites me a lot – we get experiences that are more unique.”

Upon entering the museum, the new Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Community Space will serve as the main hall of the museum’s expanded education wing, which will include an improved and flexible multi-purpose space, classrooms and a laboratory, all with a state-of-the-art technology.

Classrooms are now centrally located, which Svenson says allows for a more positive learning experience for students, as well as the ability to easily connect with staff at the entrance to the museum.

The reimagined Smead Discovery Center will continue to encourage hands-on learning for children with the addition of even more interactive experiences. Located on the lower level of the museum, this intergenerational space has been redesigned to be accessible to all ages and abilities, and guests can explore the wonders of science and nature by digging up dinosaurs, viewing specimens in the museum up close or by designing their own constellations.

The Origins Café, which overlooks Wade Oval, is enclosed in bird-proof glass for spectacular views while enjoying a snack provided by Levy, and offers indoor and outdoor seating.

Birdly Virtual Reality (VR) Unit – immersive, full-featured virtual reality flight simulator that allows guests to soar among birdlifeFrom 3D to VR
Svenson says he’s enjoying the new 3D movies from Murch Auditorium in partnership with New Jersey-based D3D Cinema. “The 3D is great, a lot of visitors go [enjoy it],” he says. “We can release movies that are science-based and that’s pretty good. And they’re included in the admission.

Films to be screened at the cinema include “Superpower Dogs”, an immersive adventure featuring the inspiring bravery of some of the world’s most amazing dogs, including Halo, a pup trained to join one of America’s most elite disaster response teams; Henry, an avalanche rescue expert in the mountains of British Columbia; Reef, a lifeguard from Newfoundland with the Italian Coast Guard; Ricochet, a California surfing legend who helps people with special needs; and Tipper and Tony, sleuth brothers leading the fight to save endangered species in Africa.

“Alive Dinosaurs!” is a global journey that brings creatures from the Triassic to the Cretaceous to life as paleontologists search for buried clues in the Gobi Desert and Ghost Ranch, Mongolia, New Mexico, and uncover fossilized evidence that dinosaur descendants may still walk (or fly) among us.

Two virtual reality (VR) Birdly units – immersive full-body flight simulators – allow guests to soar among winged wildlife like a pterosaur or butterfly.

Starting this month, the museum will offer two VR experiences. In “Jurassic Flight”, guests play as a pterosaur and soar among the dinosaurs that roamed the Earth during the Jurassic period, 150 million years ago.

The North American premiere of “Butterflyallows participants to take flight like a butterfly and explore a living ecosystem filled with highly detailed plants, insects, birds, reptiles, snails and mammals, discovering aspects of our world usually hidden from view. human eyes. UV-Vision will allow guests to see hidden patterns on plants and animals while “Smell-O-Vision” will allow them to discover insects hidden by their pheromone trails.

“You put on VR goggles, you fly, and you move around in that space,” Svenson says. “It’s as if you were flying. As a pterosaur you fly and watch [the Earth in the Jurassic Period]; with Butterfly, you are a butterfly and fly around a small habitat and see it in ultraviolet vision as they really do.

Smead Discovery Center—Presented by PNCreaching for the stars
The Shafran Planetarium, closed for a year, reopens with a software upgrade to Digistar 7. New seats allow for more personalized and creative configurations. The planetarium’s most recent program, Unfolding the Universe, highlights NASA’s latest engineering marvel, the James Webb Space Telescope.

Using this technology, guests embark on an immersive journey through space and time to explore the earliest eras of the universe, observe galaxies amid titanic collisions, peer deep into majestic stellar nurseries, and pursue research. of life beyond our solar system. while viewing the latest images from the telescope in unprecedented detail.

“We took out the old seats that were bolted to the floor and made them modular and mobile,” Svenson says of the renovations.

“You can come in and dine under the stars, bring in school groups, and the astronomy team is eager to share the wonders of the night sky through Unfolding the Universe, which shines a light on the latest engineering marvel of the NASA, the James Webb Space Telescope,” says Svenson.

The planetarium experience is included in general admission and guaranteed out of this world.

A closer look at nature
From the personal collection of Ryan “The Bug Man” Bridge, the “Amazing Insects” exhibit will feature hundreds of insects from around the world. In addition to donating insects to museums and universities, Bridge has showcased his collection through various exhibits across the country, sharing his passion and knowledge of all things insect-related with audiences of all ages and backgrounds. all interests.

Corning Gallery, a new home for rotating exhibits that showcase the intersection of art and nature, will host its first installations – the museum’s first hardback edition of 19e “Birds of America” ​​by artist and naturalist of the century John James Audubon and pop art icon Andy Warhol’s ‘Endangered Species’ museum set, a portfolio of 10 vibrant silkscreen prints depicting endangered animals including an African elephant, a black rhinoceros and a orangutan.

Recent renovations were designed by Paul Westlake, with Panzica Construction
serving as general contractor.

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