Cincinnati Museum Center: New Exhibit Brings Nature To You

Cincinnati Museum Center: New Exhibit Brings Nature To You

There’s a new permanent exhibit coming to the Cincinnati Museum Center this fall! 

You probably know that being in nature is good for you. But what if you live in the city or can’t get out into nature as much as you’d like? Cincinnati Museum Center’s new exhibit is the next best thing. 

“The John A. and Judy Ruthven Get Into Nature Gallery” will open in CMC’s Museum of Natural History & Science. It’s the latest success in their ongoing $112 million Champion More Curiosity Campaign. Inside the historic art deco spaces of the Union Terminal building, you’ll find a recreated seasonal walkthrough of our local ecosystem, the Eastern Forest. 

While it may not get the same recognition as the Smokies or the Ozarks, the Eastern Forest is just as important for its biodiversity. CMC partners with The Nature Conservancy in Ohio to manage and preserve over 20,000 acres of the Edge of Appalachia Preserve System. This jewel of the Midwest is located 75 miles east in Adams County and is full of prairies, ravines, rolling forests, and diverse wildlife, including rare and endangered species. While you can visit this magnificent preserve for a day hike (and you should!), the “Get Into Nature Gallery” brings it home to Cincinnati for you to experience. 

“It’s going to be a very immersive experience,” says Cody Hefner, vice president of marketing and communications. “It’s more sophisticated than “The Woods” in our children’s museum but still celebrates nature and the biodiversity around us.” 

“It’s this beautifully tall, airy space, filled with light,” says Chief Learning Officer Whitney Owens. “We’re working with those elements in the exhibit design. We have these two huge, recreated trees — an oak and a redbud — that will feel beautiful and peaceful.” 

Pathways will take you through each season to experience the beauty of spring, summer, fall and winter no matter the weather outside. You’ll be able to see, touch, smell and hear things in this habitat that you might not usually notice. 

There’s so much to do and explore for all ages. Peek into a de- composing leaf pile to see the insects and fungi at work. Investigate the live terrariums to see the creatures that live deep in our soil. Touch the models of plants and animals on display that you might not catch up close. Listen to the singing insects and discover how they make their unique sounds. Or maybe just visit for the sense of calm that you find amidst the trees. Who wouldn’t want a taste of spring during cold January days? 

“We are connected to nature whether we like it or not,” says Chris Bedel, the preserve director of the Edge. “We live in Cincinnati, which is in the Eastern Forest ecosystem. This is our life support system. It produces our oxygen; the bees pollinate our food. We’re not going to live without it. This is a chance for us to go into it.” 

While the exhibit will certainly be a beautiful experience, it’s also about how our forest works. For example, did you know that 27 species of insects migrate just like birds? The “Get Into Nature Gallery” lets you learn about their migratory paths. Visitors will also learn about vernal pools, shallow bodies of water found in winter and spring. Vernal pools are critical microhabitats for amphibians, insects and other animals and are rapidly disappearing. 

“We have an amazing modelmaker, Dave Might,” Bedel says. “Some highlights of this exhibit will be the work that Dave Might and the folks in the exhibits department are doing.” 

These include models of cross-sections of creeks and streams, dragonflies, spring wildflowers, and of course, those two enormous trees. The team has been hard at work designing so many wonderful new models for the exhibit. 

Hopefully, after a visit to “Get Into Nature,” visitors are excited to explore the world around them. 

“It’s going to be a chance for families to share some of their stories,” says Owens. “Wherever you’re living, everybody has a nature story. Everyone’s taken a walk or seen a critter or plant that made a big impression on them. The more we share those family connections, the more we can encourage families to get out in nature together. We hope this will be a great home base.” 

Experience the brand new “Get Into Nature” exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center. Visit the museum at 1301 Western Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio 45203, or visit to buy tickets.

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