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Cincinnati Museum Center: What To Expect In November

Tana Weingartner
New walkways are being laid on the plaza surrounding the fountain. A crane was used to hoist the original limestone columns back into place.

The Union Terminal restoration is nearing its Fall 2018 completion date, but visitors shouldn't expect a fully reopened Cincinnati Museum Center come November.

"November is the completion date of the construction," says Museum CEO Elizabeth Pierce following a regular meeting of the Union Terminal Restoration Advisory Committee Friday. "And it begins the time in which we are able to rebuild exhibits in the spaces in the museum."

The permanent exhibits will come online during the next several years. Pierce says private fundraising is underway to pay for new and different exhibits like an outer space lab using NASA technology.

This isn't a change, but it may be a perception issue for those who've watched the construction from afar or visited the Children's Museum during the work. Voters approved a five-year, quarter cent sales tax in 2014 to restore the aging Art Deco building.

"The sales tax dollars have helped support the restoration of the building (and have) nothing to do with exhibitry inside the building," Pierce says.

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
While some major projects are still underway, much of the work is focused on finishing touches like replacing windows, painting and installing carpeting.

Status Update

Since WVXU last toured the Cincinnati Museum Center, work has continued on replacing the fountain and surrounding plaza and building out exhibit spaces in the Natural History and Science Museum and the Cincinnati History Museum.

The limestone lightposts are being re-installed, bringing a familiar look back to the building's exterior. They were removed, cataloged, cleaned and restored.

"The fountain is really taking shape again," Pierce explains. "The columns with the lights on it are coming back and the shapes that you remember and the places that you've taken your photographs are being put back in place."

Windows have been cleaned and replaced in the two museum wings' ramp spaces and the Natural History side smells of fresh paint. This area will soon be home to the museum's dinosaur collection, like the Galeamopus on display on Rhinegeist Brewery as part of the Curate My Community initiative. Carpet will be installed soon, and is already going in in other locations.

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
Cars and buses would have entered or exited through this ramp, soon it will be home to the museum's dinosaur collection instead.

Lower into the museums, walls and finishing touches are being done in some spots, while bigger construction details and still underway in others.

The West wall along the train yard remains a big project. Masonry reconstruction begins later this summer. Crews found additional structural concerns with how the concourse was originally removed in the 1980s.

Some roofing work is also still wrapping up.

A last major project that's yet to begin is restoring the southern parking lot. Children's Museum visitors may have noticed the resurfaced north lot with a new payment system. Construction crews encountered some problems while working on that lot, and are therefore anticipating the south lot could have some of the same issues. While a parking lot may not seem like a big deal, Turner Construction officials say it is when the lots are as big as those at Union Terminal.