The Cleveland Museum of Natural History debut its newest exhibit, 100 Years of Discovery: A Museum’s Past, Present & Future. The special interactive exhibit celebrates the museum’s centennial by bringing to life key moments in its history, featuring rare specimens from its collection, and sharing its vision for the museum’s future.
“We are thrilled to share this historic celebration with our community through this exciting exploration of the Museum’s past, present, and future,” says Sonia Winner, the museum’s president & CEO. “While this exhibit tells the story of the Museum’s history, it also exemplifies how we’re living out our vision for the next 100 years: to explore, engage, and empower for a better tomorrow.”
The exhibit commemorates the museum’s pioneering efforts in scientific research, education, and exploration. Designed around major events in the institution’s history, it traces the museum’s 1830s origins on Public Square, its founding in 1920, its high-seas field expedition to the islands of the South Atlantic, its conservation endeavors, and its important research in human evolution and human health.
The exhibit also celebrates noteworthy community connections in the Museum’s past, including its historical oversight of the Cleveland Aquarium, Cleveland Zoo, and Holden Arboretum, and its stewardship of more than 11,000 acres of natural areas across the region.
“The planning of this exhibit has been a substantial museum-wide collaboration,” says Dr. Gavin Svenson, the museum’s director of research & collections and curator of invertebrate zoology. “Our team of educators and researchers worked together to select the many fascinating specimens that showcase the Museum’s work and to share their stories with our guests.”
In total, more than 300 items on display will illuminate the museum’s research and growth over time. The majority of the items in this exhibit are housed in the museum’s permanent collection, including visitor favorites like Balto the heroic sled dog and Jane the juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex. Also included are archival objects and rare photos from the museum’s history. Interactive displays and replicas will further bring to life these captivating stories of science, nature, education, exploration, and discovery.
Guests begin the journey by stepping into an immersive re-creation of the 1830s “Ark” building where Cleveland’s earliest natural history collections were on public display. Guests can then take the helm of a reproduction of the Blossom schooner on its oceanic voyage, command a dog sled and mush across an Alaskan snowscape, interact with a replica of a 1940s traveling trailer museum, survey bald eagles in the wild from a re-created observation tent, and more.
Visitors can also get an expansive view of the museum’s protected natural areas, which represent examples of the region’s highest-quality habitats; engage with fossils from the museum’s rare collection of Devonian Period armored sea predators; explore the breakthrough discoveries by museum scientists of human-ancestor fossils such as Lucy and MRD; and learn about technologies museum researchers use to unlock critical information from specimens.
“This exhibit is a wonderful opportunity for visitors to see pieces in our collection that they don’t normally see and understand the continuing relevance of the scientific research the museum has undertaken throughout its history,” Dr. Svenson says. “They’ll have unique experiences that will place them right at the center of the museum’s most remarkable moments.”
The final section of this exhibit highlights the museum’s ongoing transformation and offer a glimpse of the future museum experience. Guests will have the chance to view a walkthrough of the reimagined campus and exhibits and learn more about the interactive galleries that will distinguish the new museum as a dynamic space for discovery.
“Our transformation is an important part of the museum’s story in this exhibit,” Winner says. “We invite you to learn how we’re creating a space for lifelong engagement with science and nature — a place where you can stay informed about the latest scientific research and how it impacts all of us.”
Access to this special exhibit is included with general admission, and free for museum members. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors can also explore the exhibit during special holiday Late Night Fridays, when the museum stays open until 9 p.m. as well as on December 3, 10, and 17. 100 Years of Discovery: A Museum’s Past, Present & Future runs through July 24, 2022. Learn more and purchase tickets at CMNH.org