The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History will host a Community Day on Saturday, June 1 to give visitors a chance to learn more about its upcoming renovation and expansion, participate in hands-on learning activities, and take a snapshot with a fearsome aquatic predator from the Cretaceous period.
Admission to the museum will be free from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The day will include the opening of “Peabody Evolving,” an exhibit featuring the renovation plans, architectural renderings, and a virtual tour of the project.
“When this building opened to the public in 1926, its exhibitions reflected contemporary scientific research and thought,” said Peabody Director David Skelly in an open letter on the renovation project. “But just as life on this planet evolves, so must the stories we tell about it. More simply, every natural history museum needs to be spruced up from time to time. The next defining moment in the Peabody’s history has arrived.”
In August, Yale announced a gift of $160 million by Edward P. Bass ’68 toward the renovation of the Peabody, which houses more than 13 million objects in 10 different divisions and represents more than 4 billion years of geological, biological, and human history.
The renovation will expand the museum’s exhibit footprint by 50%. To better facilitate public outreach programs, the renovation will add an outdoor plaza, a three-story central gallery, a lower-level lobby that can accommodate large groups, and classrooms for school children. The Brontosaurus skeleton — the centerpiece of the museum’s Great Hall of Dinosaurs — will be remounted.
This summer the Pteranodon skeleton and one of the Peabody’s Triceratops skulls will be relocated from the Great Hall to the new Yale Science Building’s Marsh Lecture Hall. The Great Hall is scheduled to close in January and the remaining public galleries will close on June 30, 2020, Skelly explained.
“From that point on, and for at least two years, we will be renovating and expanding the museum to better serve students, faculty, researchers, and the community of individuals and families who live in and visit this region,” Skelly said.
The museum’s renowned dioramas and Rudolph F. Zallinger’s “The Age of Reptiles” mural, as well as his “The Age of Mammals” mural, will be untouched by the renovation, Skelly noted.
“[T]his multi-year process will transform the Peabody we know and love,” Skelly said. “I encourage you to visit before this evolution begins. There’s so much to explore and discover. Experience the ‘before’ and we’ll get to work on the ‘after.’”
Visitors on Community Day will have a chance to pose with a cast of a massive mosasaur skeleton — a marine predator that dominated the Western Interior Seaway, the large inland sea that once divided North America. The cast of the mosasaur will be displayed in the museum’s new central gallery following the renovation.
Visitors also can interact with hands-on materials presented by the Peabody’s Sci.CORPS staff — students from area high schools who serve as interpreters of the museums’ exhibits.
The Peabody Museum is located at 170 Whitney Ave. in New Haven, at the corner of Sachem Street, one block north of Trumbull Street. Admission is free on Community Day. For directions and information about parking, visit the museum’s website.