Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s $150 million expansion inches closer to completion


Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s $150 million expansion inches closer to completion

Cleveland Museum of Natural History is undergoing a $150 million renovation and expansion to include more gallery and education spaces, a cafe, and additional connections to the surrounding landscape. (DLR Group Westlake Reed Leskosky)

Back in June, DLR Group|Westlake Reed Leskosky was selected to design the next phases of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CMNH) Centennial Transformation Project. The multiphase project was initiated over ten years ago and includes several phases of renovations, as well as a 50,000 square-foot addition for education and exhibition spaces. 

The $150 million campaign to transform the museum’s entire campus is anticipated to be fully finished by 2026, but Phase 1 (Gateway) is gearing up for completion by December 2020, in time for the museum’s centennial celebration. The new changes are expected to improve circulation, expand programming, and provide connections to the surrounding natural landscape. CMNH flanks the Doan Brook Watershed which flows to Lake Erie. 

Exterior rendering of people frolicking next to a pool
The renovation will include additions to the museum’s courtyard including a new nature walk. (Courtesy DLR Group|Westlake Reed Leskosky)

Inspired by the Museum’s commitment to sustainability, DLR Group|WRL’s design evokes the surrounding bodies of water through a continuous form that physically and visually ties the campus together. “DLR Group|WRL’s team was inspired by CMNH’s proximity to and relationship with the surrounding bodies of water,” said DLR Group|WRL senior principal Paul Westlake in a press release. “Our sustainable design concept is an ode to water as a life-giving source and a force that shapes the earth. It speaks to the museum’s significance as a pillar of science, education, research, conservation, and community engagement.” 

The completion of Phase 1 will include renovations to the Murch Auditorium and Fawick Gallery, Kent H. Smith Environmental Courtyard, as well as a new Science News Station which will provide visitors with current information on local and global scientific discoveries. The renovations will also connect two previously remote entrances into one grand visitor’s hall. 

Interior rendering of a curving ceiling
Phase 2 is expected to break ground in 2021 and includes a large, renovated cafe. (DLR Group Westlake Reed Leskosky)

Phase 2 of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History expansion is expected to break ground in 2021 and will welcome the additional two-story exhibition spaces which will include galleries, science studios, labs, museum gift shop, and cafe. Final phases are expected to be completed by 2026 and once complete, the museum will encompass nearly 300,000 square feet of space to house the museum’s five million artifacts.