Cleveland Museum of Natural History closing to prep new visitor hall
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is closing for almost three weeks starting Tuesday to prepare for the reopening of its visitor hall. It’s the latest phase in the museum’s decade-long transformation project, estimated to cost $150 million.
Since 2015, the University Circle facility has undergone a makeover that’s included a new outdoor wildlife center, front façade and children’s area. Last year CEO Sonia Winner said the project is making the Eisenhower-era building look “a little less like a dentist’s office” before it’s slated to be complete late next year.
For decades, the visitor hall was home to a gallery of taxidermy including Balto, the Siberian husky sled dog who helped bring life-saving serum to a snowbound Alaska town in 1925. Now the visitor hall will include the museum’s “most iconic attractions and visitor favorites,” according to spokesperson Kate McCreary. That will include Balto.
The museum plans to share more details in mid-October about the changes to visitor hall, which will be free to view while the rest of the museum is ticketed.
The reopening will also bring the debut of a pair of 3D films. In Shafran Planetarium, a new show with museum astronomers will discuss the geometry of eclipses in preparation for next April’s total solar eclipse.
Last year, in previewing the changes at CMNH, Winner said they planned to group artifacts thematically, instead of geographically, to tell what she called “the story of life.”
While the facility is closed, an animal encounter takes place outside on October 8. CMNH will also continue holding various events at Mentor Marsh. The main building reopens for members on Saturday, October 14, and to the general public the next day. Since last year, residents of Cleveland and East Cleveland can visit for free on Sundays.
The Centennial Transformation Project began in 2015. Winner took the helm in 2018, not long after the opening of a parking garage and reimagined wildlife area. She's reconfigured the project so the museum could stay open throughout the construction.
Last year, she said natural history museums in general have evolved as their mission becomes less about "objects."
“What we are imagining is two separate wings: one focused on biological processes; one focused on planetary processes," she said.