Cincinnati Museum of Natural History and Science

I spent the weekend with friends in eastern Indiana, collecting limestone for our upcoming exhibit on the Ordovician Period. On Sunday, after the truck was full we made the short drive to Cincinnati to visit the Museum of Natural History and Science.

The museum is located in the huge Cincinnati train station, which  also contains a history museum, as well as still being an active train station. Visitors are greeted at the entrance by a mastodont skeleton (above), and then descend to what were originally (I think) train tunnels and passenger platforms. This provides a huge amount of space, but with a relatively unusual layout. The museum has developed exhibits that use this space well, especially with their signature exhibits on caves and the Ice Age.

The cave exhibit is quite straightforward; a life-sized, walk-through cave is reconstructed inside the museum:

The picture doesn’t fully do it justice, since I used a flash. The cave is dark, cool, and humid (there’s a flowing two-story waterfall in one place); the only thing lacking is the mud.

The Ice Age exhibit starts off rather traditionally, with mounted cast skeletons of several Pleistocene animals, including the ground sloth Megalonyx jeffersonii:

But then you walk up to a glacier, through an ice tunnel…

…and into a reconstructed Pleistocene landscape:

From a technical standpoint, I was particularly impressed with their extensive use of water in both the cave and the Ice Age. Water is a pain to incorporate into an exhibit for a variety of reasons, but it really enhances the immersive atmosphere.

These exhibits are well worth a visit. As the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History and Science is a member of ASTC, your VMNH Membership will get you free admission (although not free parking). I would definitely encourage a stop if you’re in the Cincinnati area.

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