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Cleveland Museum of Natural History Begins a $150-Million Upgrade

That's not an enhanced critter with Evalyn Gates and Harvey Webster, just an illustration at the CMNH groundbreaking

by David C. Barnett

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History staged a ceremonial groundbreaking this week to mark the start of of a $150-million-dollar expansion project that aims to dramatically reshape the look of the nearly century-old institution. 

The festivities began with a call of the wild.  Naturalist Harvey Webster pulled from his repertoire of wildlife impressions and did a convincing Barred Owl to bring the attendees to their seats.  It was a fitting beginning to an event starting the rehabilitation of the 95-year-old museum, which has educated many generations of Northeast Ohioans about the natural world. Phase One of the expansion will focus on the renewal of the Perkins Wildlife Center, which allows vistors to get up close and personal with owls, eagles --- even porcupines, which Webster says are all native to the area.  

"This is all about our home in Northeastern Ohio --- exploring it, not as political boundaries, but as a biological region."

Director Evalyn Gates went on to note the international reputation of the museum's scientific research team and described how the expansion will help bring that science out of the facility's basement labs and closer to the public.  This first phase of the project is due to be done by next Spring.  Harvey Webster says the various Perkins critters will remain in their current habitats, until their new home on the other side of the museum is ready.

David C. Barnett was a senior arts & culture reporter for Ideastream Public Media. He retired in October 2022.