First renovation in almost a century at the Yale Peabody Museum – NBC Connecticut

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A huge project is underway at Yale. The Peabody Museum of Natural History is getting a makeover for the first time in nearly a century.

Imagine walking past The Peabody and seeing a huge dinosaur fossil framed in the window. This will be a new highlight thanks to the major renovations.

“People are going to come back to see old friends, but in a new light,” said Mariana DiGiacomo, curator of natural history.

Construction is progressing at full speed.

“It looks very different from what people used to see,” DiGiacomo said. “For example, we had an exhibition on Egypt there!

After receiving a donation of $ 160 million, the project began in 2020.

“The Peabody Museum has been in this corner of New Haven since 1925,” said museum director David Skelly. “We put the whole building back in bricks, then we add 50% more exhibition space. “

The additions will include new exhibits.

“A new gallery on the history of science, we’re going to have a Native American gallery, we’re going to have a gallery on Pacific cultures,” Skelly said.

There will also be brand new educational spaces, where Yale students and K-12 children can enter a world of immersive learning.

“We’re going to be able to share our collections a lot more with the community, and that’s super exciting,” said DiGiacomo.

While major construction work is in progress, extra care should be taken with all elements of the exhibits.

“We have to be very careful with the millions and millions of items that were in this building, they all had to be moved,” Skelly said.

However, that’s a different story when you consider the colossal dinosaur bones.

“We have three fossil skeletons. One of them is attached to the wall and the other two are too big to move, ”said DiGiacomo.

These fossils are housed in place, including the skeleton of an Edmontosaurus and a fossil fish.

Eleven dioramas are also protected, secured with temperature control and filtered air.

“At the moment, they don’t have their windows in place anymore, so we can put them up and take a look inside,” said DiGiacomo.

Two murals painted by Rudolph Salinger are the main attractions of the Peabody and also cannot be moved. One is called “The Age of Mammals and the other” The Age of Reptiles.

“We’re standing right next to the T-Rex that’s painted on this amazing mural,” said DiGiacomo. “We are doing everything in our power and even beyond to keep it in good condition during construction. “

The preservation of a work of art completed in 1947 requires daily visits.

“We look at all the images in this mural and make sure everything is where it’s supposed to be,” DiGiacomo said. “Some things are more difficult than others. For example, when there is a demolition, there are vibrations. And so we come here, and we’re constantly monitoring these vibrations to make sure we’re keeping them in place.

The project revealed some pleasant surprises. Museum staff found a forgotten mural, painted in 1994, but hidden for years behind a wall.

“It was one of those fun things that we discovered, and we’re a little bit amazed,” said Tim White, director of collections and research. “It kind of brought back a lot of excitement.”

They also rediscover an iconic original architecture.

“It’s things like double arches. It’s a hallmark part of The Peabody’s lobby, ”White said. “We started to find these arches that had been covered over the last 50 or 60 years.”

It is a transformation in the making.

When the museum reopens in 2024, visitors will also get a pleasant surprise.

“One of the things that really gets us excited is free entry,” said DiGiacomo.

Entrance will be free in the future. The museum, a lighthouse, inviting you to stroll and marvel in its rooms.

“We hope what we are offering is a fantastic experience,” said Skelly. “So that people can better understand the world around them. “


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