Cleveland Museum of Natural History launches $125 million campaign to expand its building and impact
Posted December 04, 2012 in Articles
Author: Steven Litt
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, which halted a previous expansion plan during the 2008 recession, has come roaring back with a $125 million project to transform its physical presence in University Circle.
The project, which the museum will announce formally on Wednesday, calls for demolishing roughly half of its existing facility on the west side of Wade Oval, and adding two glassy new exhibit wings and a crystalline lobby.
One of the museum's very large dinosaur skeletons will very likely be visible from the outside.
Dr. Evalyn Gates, the respected particle physicist who became the museum’s director in 2010, said the project would boost science education in Cleveland by making the museum’s collections and research activities far more visible and dynamic than they are today.
She said she also viewed the project as part of a wave of investments in cultural institutions that could help attract new residents and industries to Cleveland.
“When you look at the great cities around the world their cultural institutions are at the core in terms of bringing people there to live,” she said.
The architect for the project is Curt Fentress of Denver, whose previous credits include Denver's international airport and an expansion of the museum of natural history in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The Cleveland museum has no precise timetable for the project, but will break ground when it has raised roughly 70 percent of the construction cost of its expansion, Gates and other museum officials said.
Ongoing capital campaigns for the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Orchestra and other institutions are attempting to raise hundreds of millions of dollars, but Gates and her colleagues say they’re confident that donor fatigue will not be an issue.
The natural history museum can tap new donors outside those who normally give to University Circle institutions, they said.