One of several highlights of our Columbus museum includes the 11,000 square foot exhibit known as “The Nature of Ohio.” The exhibit planning team wanted to show not only the wonderful diversity and richness of the natural history of Ohio, but also wanted to set it in the context of the Ohio History Connection. A major goal was to show the inter-connectedness of natural history and history – how each affects the other.
Recently re-orientated, cleaned and highlighted with better lighting, the Conway Mastodon
welcomes visitors to this exhibit in a dramatic way. Along with other Pleistocene skeletons and bones, they not only tell the story of Ohio’s Ice Ages, but also show how the other five galleries in this exhibit must be linked to tell the whole story of our natural heritage. These galleries are: Climate and Weather; Physical Geography; Plants; Animals; and Geology. Throughout the area we have tried to display as many collections items as possible, including 116 Fossils, 164 Mounted Animals, over 200 Rocks & Minerals and a variety of other artifacts. Add to this are various props, graphics, a video segment and nine different interactive computer programs. There is an interpretive approach for people of all ages and backgrounds to explore the Nature of Ohio.
Three special areas in or near the natural history exhibits also promote an interactive theme. The Battelle Discovery Park is designed for children, with imaginative games and places to explore and opportunities for parents to interact with their children. Seating is also provided in this area.
Next to the Discovery Park is our Demo Lab Theater, where educational staff presents programs to small groups on natural history, history and archaeology. Finally, now mixed interpretively with our new archaeology exhibits, is the outdoor Bird Sanctuary. Here bird feeders augment an area of native wildflowers, native shrubs and trees and a small pond to provide habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife. Large windows look out over this area, and benches provide a place to rest and observe.
Natural history collections are also on exhibit at a number of other sites managed by the Ohio History Connection. Cedar Bog Nature Preserve, Fort Hill State Memorial and Wahkeena Nature Preserve each have exhibit areas that augment the natural areas and help the visitor learn about things they may see along the trails. Other OHS sites also include natural history collections objects where they are woven into an understanding of the cultural history that the site represents.