Toledo Zoo Promedica Museum of Natural History

Toledo, Ohio

Buehrer Group Architecture & Engineering, Inc. was hired for the renovations to the existing Museum of Natural History at The Toledo Zoo. The goal of the project was to create a storyline throughout the museum showcasing biodiversity in Ohio 13,000 years ago to now. Using Taxa (terrestrial invertebrate and venomous taxa), Geographic, ecosystem, and historic examples the museum visitor will learn about biodiversity from a global and local perspective. Parallels were made whenever possible and appropriate to highlight North American biodiversity in a global context.

The main hall will showcase Ohio 13,000 year ago to when American lions, mastodons and other giant predators roamed the land. This area will allow visitors to experience the prehistoric biodiversity of Ohio and highlight the “exotic” species that once flourished here with similar species to what visitors already recognize. Additional exhibits will include a glacier wall with a chilled section to allow visitors to feel the simulated ice. The first floor will have a headwater and wetlands area were Visitors will experience the changes experienced by wetlands locally. A streams and rivers exhibit will have touch tanks where visitors can explore a slice of life on the banks of our local waterways as you flip rocks and happen upon live animals that live in our own backyard. Another display, being called Nature In Hand, will be all about getting hands-on with pelts, skulls, and other specimens. In the basement of the building, a new research lab has been created which is available to the public for viewing and will be used to study multiple animals and ecosystems such as prairie habitats and Spray Toads, a species of toads, which in 2009, was officially declared extinct in the wild.

On the exterior of the building, a new larger greenhouse has been added to the front of the museum and is a two-story, climate-controlled tropical exhibit. Visitors will be able to walk on a section of the museum’s roof to access the upper portion. A smaller, single-story greenhouse in the rear of the museum will feature a walk-through prairie setting. Both greenhouses will exhibit primarily plants, but the zoo plans to add appropriate free-roaming animal species like birds, butterflies, turtles, frogs, and lizards.

The museum’s theater will undergo dramatic change. The historic beams, stained glass, and other such features will be retained, but the sloped floor will be excavated to a level surface and visitors will be able to exit the theater into the museum’s basement. The stage will be taken back to its smaller historical size. The theater will have full audio-visual capabilities, but will become a more flexible space that can be used for a variety of public and private events. The theater, in particular, demonstrated an overall accessibility issue for visitors with disabilities inside the museum, which was dedicated in 1936. Renovations, like the installation of an elevator, will address those problems.

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