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Museum Center Is Packing Up Ahead Of Renovations

Workers at the Cincinnati Museum Center are already packing up some exhibits and preparing them for storage. Parts of the museum will close at the end of next month as restoration work begins on Union Terminal.

Workers started taking the replica mastodon skeleton down Monday morning. Director of Exhibits Chris Novy says it's fiberglass, supported in places by a steel frame. Novy says it's somewhat delicate, but not difficult to move.

"It's a fiberglass cast so you definitely need to be gentle with it. It is durable. It can support its own weight. There's metal structures inside the fiberglass casts that you see. It's strong but the fiberglass can get chipped, it can get cracked, and we're trying to avoid those sorts of situations."

Novy says many of those taking the replica skeleton apart are the same ones who assembled it in the first place some 25 years ago.

"The models that are made in museums, they're somewhat intuitive and if you've put together other casts and models, there are logical places to look for the points where they connect.

Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU
Visitors to the Cincinnati Museum Center can watch as exhibits are taken apart.

"There's hidden set screws and things like that that'll give you a clue and then you can find out which point is going to disconnect," he says.

Jennifer Jensen watched Monday morning as the mastodon exhibit was taken apart. She's the Cincinnati Museum Center Registrar. It's her job to keep an eye on all of the collections, documenting where everything is and where it's going.

Smaller artifacts will be kept at the Geier Collections and Research Facility in Queensgate during the renovation. But a few exhibits will show up on display elsewhere.

"Such as… the mastodon," Jensen says. "We also potentially are going to have machine tools and some other favorites like the polar bear popping up all over the city."

Jensen says renovations at the Geier Center made room for those smaller artifacts. She  adds there's been a lot of interest in housing the larger exhibits because people don't want them out of public view for more than two years.

"This is really a great opportunity for us to engage in a meaningful way with some of the neighborhoods that maybe don't necessarily see people coming down to the Museum Center. We can engage them in their own communities and then hopefully build a larger and stronger audience when we come back," she says.

The Museum Center is still talking with possible venues for the displays, but announcements could come as early as next week.

The Cincinnati History, Natural History and Science museums are scheduled to close June 30. The Children's Museum and the special exhibits gallery will stay open during the restoration.