The Cleveland Museum of Natural History has always been my favorite museum to visit, and not just because I grew up so close to it. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is an excellent example of a museum done right. It’s educational, engaging, and fun, and it makes you want to go again and again to see everything there and maybe try to find the Easter eggs they hide throughout the museum that I’ll explain more about later.
When you first start walking through the museum, the first area you reach allows you to go to two of my favorite parts of the museum. The first is their incredible fossil collection they have on exhibit year-round. They have numerous skeletons of dinosaurs, including the most complete mount of Coelophysis bauri and some of the best preserved examples of Late Devonian Shale fish known to exist, like their fossil of Dunkleosteus terrelli, a giant armored fish from the period, that was always one of the first things I wanted to look at.
If you head outside from this area of the museum, you enter the live animal habitat, where they have numerous animals from Northeast Ohio. They have everything from skunks, to otters, to several kinds of owls and hawks. The animal habitat is best to visit in the warmer months of the year though, as many of the animals either hibernate or need to be taken inside for most of the winter months.
The museums also has an incredible display of of prints of Audubon’s “Birds of America” collection of his famous realistic prints of birds from all across North America. The prints are stunning in detail and the museum separates the birds into the areas of the country they can be found, with many even having examples of what the birds sound like available for you to play.
Another of my favorite of their year-round exhibits is their exhibition on insects. I personally am terrified of most insects in real-life but find them incredibly interesting to look at and learn about. The Cleveland Natural History Museum excels at allowing for this. The museum has an extensive display of all sorts of insects and arachnids. They have mounts of all sorts of butterflies and beetles, as well as living, caged examples of many spiders, millipedes, and other creatures you wouldn’t want loose in the museum.
One of the things the Museum excels at are it’s programs for children. Every weekend they have some sort of workshop for kids to come in and participate in, many of which I have fond memories of doing as a child. From letting kids handle some of the live animals, to workshops on fossils and where to find them around Cleveland, the museums provides many opportunities for kids around the city to come and be a part of the museum.
The thing that the Cleveland Museum of Natural History may be most well-known for though, is their habit of hiding easter eggs among their displays. Two of the most well known are a small plastic VW Beetle hiding among the mounts of real beetles, and the small chocolate Easter egg in one of the bird’s nests on display. They put others up for short periods of time occasionally, but these are the two that most everyone who visits the museum can find and usually have a laugh at.
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History was one of my favorite places to visit as a child, and I’m always glad to visit it now that I’ve gotten older and see that it’s still just as amazing of a place as I remember. With their focus on making displays interesting and relevant, providing learning opportunities for local kids and schools, and hiding Easter eggs among their displays to keep people paying close attention to the displays, I feel as though the Cleveland Museum of Natural History does an excellent job integrating itself with the community it serves and making visits a pleasant and educational experience.