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Museum Center Re-opens Cave, 'In Motion' Exhibits, With More To Come

Months after the grand re-opening, the Cincinnati Museum Center is still bringing exhibits back online. The latest take visitors underground, and back in time.

The center re-opened in November 2018, after years of renovations and updating.

The cave exhibit is back, and while the interior hasn't changed, Museum Director of Communications Cody Hefner says the entrance has. There are videos and interactive displays showing how caves form, and a map of caves around the world. "You swipe your finger across and move the globe and look at caves from Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, North America. I think I'd play with that for 30 minutes."

Hefner says the interior of the cave has been refreshed, with cleaning and some new paint, and some new water features. "It's quite a large undertaking to recreate a cave. People are going to feel pretty familiar as they're going through there. But that's what we want. We want them to have that excitement again of shimmying through corridors and walking by underground rivers and waterfalls."

The cave system has been at the Cincinnati Museum Center since 1990. "There are parents bringing their kids here. There are grandparents bringing their grandkids here. And the thought of them walking through and going 'Isn't this awesome; isn't this cool?' is really neat. That's what we keep hearing from people."

The Cincinnati in Motion exhibit is back as well, featuring a 1/64 scale model of Downtown Cincinnati from the 1940s. And it transitions from day to night. "There's lighting effects. This blue hue casts itself over the city, and the lights pop up, and the buildings and the street lights turn on. It's unbelievable. It looks incredible."

Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU
The Cincinnati in Motion exhibit was placed under a tarp during restoration. It was dusted, pieces repainted, and had lights replaced for the re-opening.

Like with the cave, Hefner says every building was touched up, some with new paint, and the lights were switched from halogen to LEDs. "Everything was dusted, because it was tarped, but it was still in a construction zone so it got a little dusty over three years."

Hefner says there's still more to come. "This May we're going to open the first phase of our space exploration gallery. That's really looking back at the Apollo space mission, Neil Armstrong. And then down the road we'll open the next phase of that which talks about the future of space exploration," he says.

"Then we've got a bio-medical gallery that's coming, the Ice Age Trail, the Ice Age Cave are going to come back online."

Hefner says there are also plans for a gallery in the history museum that explains what it means to be a Cincinnatian: "The food, the beer, the people, the economy, the businesses, the celebrities, talking about Rosemary Clooney all the way to Nick Lachey, and everyone in between, those are all still to come."

The Cave and Cincinnati in Motion reopen to the public Friday, March 22.