WKYC-TV Chief Meteorologist and News Anchor Betsy Kling joined Cleveland Museum of Natural History President & CEO Sonia Winner on stage while serving as the emcee during the ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the Museum’s new Wade Oval entrance. Photographs by Daniel Milner

Cleveland Museum of Natural History Board Director John A. Baco and Board Secretary Douglas McCreery arrive at the ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the Museum’s new Wade Oval entrance.

With the recent grand opening of new and reimagined spaces, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s multiyear, $150 million transformation has entered a new era.
“In geological terms, we are now in the Mesozoic Era,” observes Sonia Winner, the Museum’s President & CEO. “We are in the middle stage of our construction project, with much work still to be done but also a great deal that has already been accomplished.”
The transformation is scheduled for completion in 2024, with the Museum staying open every step of the way.
“Through the transformation and expansion of the Museum, we are pioneering new ways for visitors to experience our irreplaceable collections, the groundbreaking work of world-renowned scientists, and dynamic educational programs that inspire awe and encourage curiosity,” Winner adds. “There are great new things to discover, and the best is yet to come.”
On December 7, the Museum hosted a free grand opening so all guests could enjoy the latest updates and experiences, including Smead Discovery Center—Presented by PNC, Murch Auditorium, and the Nathan and Fannye Shafran Planetarium.
The reimagined Smead Discovery Center—Presented by PNC continues to encourage hands-on learning for children through the addition of even more interactive experiences. The intergenerational space has been completely redesigned, with an emphasis on accessible opportunities for all styles of learners. Guests of all ages will enjoy the wonders of science and nature together as they dig for dinosaurs, take an up-close look at Museum specimens, design their own constellations, and more.
Meanwhile, the updated Murch Auditorium now features 3D movies through a partnership with D3D Cinema, a creator of immersive cinema and VR experiences and experiential storytelling through first-to-market technology. The auditorium’s inaugural Cinefolio films will beSuperpower Dogs, an immersive adventure featuring the inspiring bravery of some of the world’s most amazing dogs, and Dinosaurs Alive!, a global journey that brings to life creatures from the Triassic to the Cretaceous Period as paleontologists search for clues.
The world-class Nathan and Fannye Shafran Planetarium has also reopened, complete with a software upgrade to Digistar 7 and new seating that allows for more customized and creative configurations. The Museum’s astronomy team is eager to share the wonders of the night sky through the planetarium’s newest program, Unfolding the Universe, which highlights NASA’s latest engineering marvel, the James Webb Space Telescope.
Corning Gallery, a new home for rotating exhibits that highlight the intersection of art and nature, is hosting its first installations:the Museum’s bound first-edition set of 19th-century artist and naturalist John James Audubon’s Birds of America and the Museum’s set of Pop Art icon Andy Warhol’s Endangered Species, a portfolio of 10 vibrant screenprints featuring animals at risk of extinction, including an African elephant, black rhinoceros, and orangutan.
The newly created Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Community Space serves as the main lobby of the Museum’s expanded Education Wing, which features an enhanced, flexible multipurpose space, classrooms, and a lab—all with state-of-the-art technology.
The new Wade Oval Entrance, with a welcoming patio, invites guests into the Museum while linking the Museum to Wade Oval and neighboring cultural institutions. The entrance provides access to Origins Café, a new on-site year-round café featuring indoor and outdoor seating. In a new strategic partnership, Levy, the critically acclaimed hospitality company, is responsible for creating all dining experiences for the café, as well as catering for private events at the Museum.
Throughout the Museum’s transformation, members and guests will still be welcomed by Steggie, the 18-foot-long, 8-foot-tall Stegosaurus sculpture, and can continue to enjoy presentations by scientists and other guests, the Thelma and Kent H. Smith Environmental Courtyard, the Museum’s three publicly accessible natural areas, and the live animals in the Ralph Perkins II Wildlife Center & Woods Garden—Presented by KeyBank.
All visitors must reserve their tickets before they arrive at the Museum. Advance tickets are available for members to reserve and nonmembers to purchase online at CMNH.org/visit or by phone at 216.231.4600.