The Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CMNH) today, June 24th, breaks the ground for an ambitious expansion and new installation project valued at 150 million US dollars. Integrated design office DLR group directs the design of the project, alongside museum Planning and design practice Gallagher & coworkersthat will accompany the redesign of the exhibits in the centuries-old museum.
The CMNH campus was founded in 1920 and is located within ClevelandUniversity Circle’s cultural district, home to a variety of other historical arts and educational institutions. These include the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, Case Western Reserve University, and Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra. In addition to a collection of five million artefacts and specimens from the fields of paleontology, zoology, archeology, mineralogy and ornithology, the CMNH looks after over 11,000 hectares Nature reserves in and around the forest city.
Just in time for the museum’s centenary, the expansion and reinstallation project, described in a described Press release As “a rare opportunity for a natural history museum to reinvent its entire complex to tell a unified story of life and the forces that shape the universe,” the CMNH will gain 50,000 square feet of new public space while its existing exhibits are upgraded and redesigned. As the museum noted, the reorganization developed by Gallagher & Associates with the CMNH’s curatorial, education, and collection teams will avoid “traditional time-period, geography, and species-of-living” storylines and instead will be reorganized into “integrated form” storylines of planetary and biological storylines Processes and make these powerful forces tangible and relevant for today’s life. “
Aside from the exhibits, the CMNH in its current form is a bit of a structural hodgepodge of the original museum building and half a dozen extensions that have been carried out over the years and cobbled together into a larger complex. In order to better merge these parts, the DLR Group has come up with a uniform design with towering glass outer walls that create new lines of sight between the exhibits and the Calf oval, a public green space between the CMNH and the Cleveland Museum of Art. The renovation will also wrap undulating white shapes made of fiberglass-reinforced concrete around the museum’s roof lines to “evoke the alluvial shapes carved out by the glaciers that make up Lake Erie and created the Great Lakes, and at the same time show how the forces work in the region “have also shaped the planet and the universe and are still influencing life today”, according to the CMNH.
The expansion part of the museum-wide renovation will include a new visitor hall designed by the DLR Group on the current parking lot. According to the museum, selected specimens will be exhibited in the expansion – including the famous ones “Lucy” Model – and at the same time serves as a “central welcome and orientation area”. From the visitor hall, museum guests can move into two different exhibition wings, one with galleries dedicated to planetary processes and the other with biological processes. Everyone is anchored by one major attraction: the Nathan and Fannye Shafran Planetarium & Ralph Mueller Observatory for the planetary processes wing and the Ralph Perkins II Wildlife Center & Woods Garden for the biologically oriented wing.
In addition, the transformative makeover also includes new and improved visitor facilities, event spaces, educational labs, and a new self-guided interactive space called The Ames Family Curiosity Center. According to the museum, the center, facilitated by the B. Charles and Jay G. Ames Foundation, will “foster real-time links between the CMNH’s collections, visitor experiences and science-related news from around the world.” In connection with the expansion, the museum has announced that it will also take on new curatorial positions, including an assistant curator on the environment and an assistant curator on planetary systems.
“The events of last year have shown how inexorably human life is linked to the forces of nature and how a solid understanding of current science is required to make critical decisions in our daily lives,” said Sonia Winner, President of the CMNH and CEO , in a statement. “We are creating a new model for natural history museums that uses the past to inform our present in order to create a better future together. Our newly designed museum will shed light on the interlinking of human life and nature and show how important science is for our lives. “
While the CMNH is not completely closed during its metamorphosis, various sections are closed while others remain open. However, visitors should plan ahead if they intend to visit a specific exhibition or area of the museum. The gradual opening of the new and remodeled rooms will begin sometime next year.