89.1 WEMU

creative:impact-Packing Up The Pachyderms And Moving The UM Museum Of Natural History

Dec 19, 2017

Specimens to be moved as part of the relocation of the UM Museum of Natural History

At the end of this month, the UM Museum of Natural History will close its doors.  The contents are being packed up at the Ruthven Museums Building and will be moved to the schools new Biological Science Building.  Listen as the director of the museum, Amy Harris, discusses the process of moving, the plans for a staggered opening and the impact the new facility will provide students and the public. 

Creative industries in Washtenaw County add hundreds of millions of dollars to  the local economy.  Through the feature series, creative:impact, 89.1 WEMU's David Fair and co-host Deb Polich, the President and CEO of The Arts Alliance, will explore the myriad of contributors that make up the creative sector in Washtenaw County.  creative:impact will air at 7:50am and 9:50am each Tuesday as part of Morning Edition.  

Current dinosaur exhibition space in the U-M Museum of Natural History, slated to close for relocation on Dec. 30, 2017.

A “Last Day at the Museum” will be held on Saturday, December 30, 2017, for families and an adults-only.  The “Last Night at the Museum” New Year’s Eve party will be held on December 31.  Then the relocation to the new facility will take place and will open in phases through fall of 2019. 

Architect’s rendering of the new U-M Biological Science Building, view from Washtenaw Ave. (c) 2015 University of Michigan. Design Team: SmithGroupJJR/Ennead Architects.

The University of Michigan Museum of Natural History is ending nine decades at its current location and is beginning the move to its new home.

The museum is leaving its current location in the Ruthven Museums Building and will relocate to its new location in the Biological Science Building, next door.

Key Points:  Short History of the Museum

  • The oldest museum in the state is about to become the newest

  • The Ruthven Museums Building opened in 1928

  • The Biological Science Building will be the museum’s home

  • Community has strong feelings about current home, but the building has its problems

About the Mastodons

  • The female, Owosso mastodon has been on exhibit since 1947

  • The male, Buesching mastodon went on exhibit in 2005

  • Our mastodons are the only known display comparing a male and female mastodon in the world

  • We estimated that these mastodons have greeted more than a million visitors since they “became a couple” in 2005

Moving the Mastodons

  • We are raising funds to move the mastodons — All donors will be invited to see the mastodons in their new home before the Museum opens to the public.

  • A firm from Toronto which specializes in prehistoric specimens will dismantle, move and reassemble the skeletons

  • The Owosso mastodon will go to the U-M paleontologist lab for research and conservation

  • Expected that they will be disassembled into large sections and moved

  • When the building opens for classes, the iconic mastodon couple will greet people in the 5-story atrium (Although building is open for classes in the fall of 2018, the Museum will not open until 2019)

The Last Week at the Museum

  • Next week is the Last Week at the Museum. Museum is closed on Christmas Day and the day after (12/25 & 12/26).

  • Last Day at the Museum - Saturday, December 30, 9am - 5pm - Free fun-filled day for families with commemorative activities

  • Last Night at the Museum - Sunday, December 31, a New Year's Eve gala. Starts at 9:30. Tickets are $125, available via museum website

New Museum

  • Opens in stages

    • Atrium in fall of 2018

    • Evolution gallery and Planetarium & Dome Theater and a few other exhibits open in the spring of 2019

    • The remaining exhibits, including the Michigan gallery will open in the fall of 2019

Bio:  Amy Harris has served as director of the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History since 2002. Harris has a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Cornell University and a M.A. in the History of Art from the University of Michigan. She has over 30 years of experience in the administration of cultural organizations and museums, and holds leadership positions within the University of Michigan and in the greater Ann Arbor community.  Harris has led or co-chaired several campus-wide Theme Semesters at the University of Michigan [Evolution (2006), Universe (2009), Water (2011), Race (2013)].  She is now leading the planning process for a new public museum facility to be located in the new Biological Science Building adjacent to the current Museum building.  The new museum is expected to open in 2019. 

Non-commercial, fact based reporting is made possible by your financial support.  Make your donation to WEMU today to keep your community NPR station thriving.

Like 89.1 WEMU on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu