In the fall of 2016, Columbus Downtown Development Corporation (CDDC), in partnership with COSI, entered into a first-of-its-kind agreement with the American Museum of Natural History that would establish two significant new exhibition areas at COSI: the American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery and the American Museum of Natural History Exhibition Gallery, which would occupy a total of 22,000 square feet on the main concourse of COSI’s first floor.
In November 2017, the first phase of this project was unveiled and Dinosaurs made their Columbus debut, permanently taking up residence inside COSI. The exhibit opened to glowing reviews from the young and young-at-heart, entranced by the life-size Tyrannosaurus rex model that greets guests as they enter the space. More than an educational opportunity, these giant creatures spark curiosity that spans ages. But the intergenerational appeal of the exhibit was no surprise, but rather part of a strategic effort by Columbus’ public and private leaders to attract a more varied audience to the institution.
With an eye on growing COSI’s audience to include the entire region, COSI, and civic and community leaders had discussed creative ways to deepen programming and exhibitions. The strength of the American Museum of Natural History’s exhibitions and educational offerings made it the ideal choice for a partnership.
The next exciting phase in this undertaking came to fruition in March 2018, as the Exhibition Gallery hosted its first temporary installation.
A once-in-a-generation opportunity, this project brings together world-class institutions like AMNH and COSI to produce an unparalleled experience for residents and visitors. The American Museum of Natural History will be one in a broader offering of destinations including COSI and the National Veterans Memorial & Museum, which will jointly serve as the cultural anchor for the Scioto Peninsula and future development to the west.
The AMNH partnership was made possible due to a $5 million investment from the State of Ohio and a $2 million gift from Abigail and Leslie Wexner.
As one of the premier cultural attractions in the world, the American Museum of Natural History draws attendance of approximately 5 million to its New York City campus each year. AMNH has established research, exhibition and educational collaborations around the world, but this is the most extensive partnership of this kind, linking as it does a world-class natural history museum and a nationally recognized science center.
CDDC managed the design and construction of the new AMNH galleries. Concurrently, CDDC developed a park, with an underground garage below it, on the ground just west of COSI. The new park, christened Dorrian Green, is designed to serve as a catalyst for commercial and residential activity on the 56-acre Scioto Peninsula as its planned revitalization progresses.