1830 - 1840
The Museum traces its roots back to a two-room wooden structure on Public Square that served as a meeting place for 26 young men interested in the natural sciences. Because the mounted birds and mammals occupied every corner of the building, it became known as the “Ark.” The young men are called the “Arkites”
Museum of Natural History is formally incorporated on December 13. Trustees appoint Paul Marshall Rea, who was very prominent in museum circles, as Museum Director.
Museum establishes Library and Department of Education.
Museum’s first exhibition of animal heads, hides, shells, stalactites, exotic birds and butterflies opens to the public in the newly renovated Hanna Mansion on Euclid Avenue, then referred to as “Millionaire Row.” Museum establishes Departments of Preparation and Geology. Donations include collections of Ohio birds and mammals; insects, other birds, minerals, fossils and artwork.
The schooner Blossom, led by George Finlay Simmons, departs on an expedition to the South Atlantic islands and collects 12,000 bird specimens for the new institution. Museum establishes the Department of Ornithology (later the Department of Vertebrate Zoology).
Jeptha H. Wade II gave the Museum the greater part of his collection of gems and semi-precious stones, appraised as one of the top six gem collections in the United States. The same year, the Museum received the Holden Mineral Collection.
The Fayette Brown family, father of Barbara and grandfather of Harvey Webster, gave the Museum the Harvey H. Brown house, which adjoined the Hanna House on the east. Clevelanders raise $2,000 to bring Balto and members of his dog sled team to the city for a hero’s parade through Public Square, and to live out their lives in dignity at the Brookside Zoo. Balto lead the last team of sled dogs through blinding snow, hurricane-force winds and temperatures below zero carrying antitoxin serum to the diphtheria-stricken town of Nome, Alaska. Nearly 20 relay teams participate.
Museum purchases the Johnstown Mastodon, found in 1926, and installs first nature trail in North Chagrin Reservation.
White-Fuller expedition begins a three-month safari in Kenya; collects 139 large mammals of 30 different species, 100 small mammals and 600 birds. Museum establishes the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio, with 100 acres of land donated by trustee Ben Bole and Roberta Holden Bole.
Museum-sponsors a “Trailside Museum” on the North Chagrin Reservation. Board appoints Harold L. Madison as Museum Director.
Balto dies. Museum mounts the heroic dog.
Museum installs The Hanna Star Dome, Ohio’s first planetarium.
The Board authorizes the formation of The Women’s Committee as a fund-raising arm for the Museum’s general operations. Kirtland Society also began this year. Museum acquires responsibility of the Brookside Zoo and manages it until 1957.
Dr. David Dunkle discovers the Nanotyrannus lancensis, originally named Gorgosaurus, in Montana.
John Sherwin donates rare double elephant folio of Audubon’s Birds of America to the Museum.
Western Reserve University, later named Case Western Reserve University, donates the non-human osteological material from the Hamman-Todd collection to the Museum. Holden Arboretum becomes an independent corporation.
City of Cleveland leases 1 ½ acres in Wade Park to the Museum.
Museum expedition to Canon City, Colorado, unearths a 70-foot-long dinosaur skeleton named Haplocanthosaurus delfsi in honor of Edwin Delfs, expedition field leader. Museum opens Cleveland Aquarium in Gordon Park on Labor Day.
Museum acquires first natural areas properties, land on Kelley’s Island and Fern Lake Bog.
The Museum moves to its present location at 1 Wade Oval Drive in University Circle. Haplocanthosaurus delfsi is its first new major attraction.
The Museum builds the Ralph Mueller Planetarium and accepts the 10.5-inch Warner and Swasey telescope, built in 1899, from Western Reserve University.
The Jared P. Kirtland Hall of Prehistoric Life opens, showcasing the gigantic dinosaur Haplocanthosaurus delfsi. The Museum opens the Ralph Mueller Observatory, receives the Zahrobsky Insect Collection and resumes publication of The Explorer magazine.
Museum’s name temporarily changes to “Museum of Natural Science,” and charges first admission fee of 50 cents for adults.
Museum acquires a 50-acre parcel of Mentor Marsh wetlands.
Cleveland Shale deposits with Devonian fossil fish are recovered during Interstate 71 construction.
Museum establishes the Departments of Paleontology and Archaeology and begins publishing Kirtlandia, its scientific journal.
The Museum installs the new Stegosaurus sculpture, nicknamed “Steggie,” created by Louis P. Jonas and accepts donation of Medina Sanctuary.
Trustees re-adopt the name “Cleveland Museum of Natural History” in time for the Museum’s 50th anniversary. Museum opens the Ralph Perkins II Memorial Woods Garden, which houses rehabilitated Ohio birds and mammals.
The Perkins Wildlife Center begins its American Bald Eagle-breeding program.
Museum completes major renovation. The additions are Sears Hall of Man, Fawick Gallery, the Thelma and Kent Smith Environmental Courtyard, the Harold T. Clark Library, Murch Auditorium and laboratories. Trustees appoint Glenn Kitson as acting Museum Director.
Dr. Donald Johansen, then Curator of Physical Anthropology, discovers a partial skeleton of a more than 3 million years old female in Ethiopia. He nicknamed her “Lucy.” In 1997, scientists prove that the fossils were a new hominid species described as Australopithecus afarensis.
The Museum earns full accreditation from the American Association of Museums. Museum also acquires its first freeze-drying unit for the preservation of specimens.
The Museum acquires the Ringler dugout, a perfectly preserved canoe made by ancient Ohio inhabitants, near Ashland, Ohio.
Kirtlandia Society begins Adopt-A-Student program.
The Museum’s first traveling exhibit, “Confiscated,” promotes international conservation of wildlife and contains government seized illegal animal furs and other items. Paleobotany Department is established.
New exhibits open on Ohio ecology.
Ralph Pfingsten quadruples the Museum’s herpetology collection by donating 10,000 salamanders. Museum establishes an Archives Department. Museum acquires the Grand River Terraces property.
Director of Wildlife Center Harvey Webster hatches the first bald eagle in captivity.
Museum buries a time capsule as part of the “Halley’s Comet” educational project and establishes the Science Resource Center. Cleveland Aquarium closes.
Museum receives the Frank A. Myers Gem Collection. Board appoints Dr. J. Mary Taylor as Museum Director, the first female director of a major natural history museum.
A new addition to the Museum includes storage space for collections and a cold room to preserve animal mounts. The sixth natural areas property is Koelliker Fen.
The Museum acquires the North Kingsville Sand Barrens property.
The Archaeology Department investigates a Paleo Crossing site in Medina County to discover more about Ohio’s earliest inhabitants. It also acquires Cottonwood Hollow natural area.
The Howard Smead Naturalist Center, the Museum’s first permanent children’s discovery center, opens.
The David S. Ingalls, Jr. Wing is built. It houses the Museum Store, Kahn Hall for temporary exhibits, offices, labs and storage areas.
Museum celebrates its 75th anniversary with a year of activities, including the Cleveland Before Cleaveland exhibition.
Dr. Shya Chitaley, Curator of Paleobotany, and Dr. Kathleen Pigg, describe and name a new genus and species of ancient club moss (Clevelandodendron ohioensis) from the Cleveland Shale.
Museum opens PLANET e, the new Reinberger Hall of Earth and Planetary Exploration, the first permanent exhibition in a natural history museum to integrate geology and astronomy. Admissions area of main lobby undergoes a major renovation. A new and improved “Steggie” sculpture was installed.
The Jeptha H.Wade II Gallery of Gems & Jewels opens. Museum members Richard and Jalane Davidson donate an extensive collection of cabochons, mineral eggs, and other stones and BP America donates a pre-Colombian ceramics collection.
Dr. Bruce Latimer, Curator of Physical Anthropology, is a member of an international team who publish an article in the journal Science about a new hominid species, Australopithecus garhi, which they discovered at Bouri on the Middle Awash River in Ethiopia.
Museum receives re-accreditation from the American Association of Museums.
Museum completes reconstruction of a Coelophysis dinosaur, a Late Triassic theropod, for display and acquires ancient mastodon unearthed near Salem, Ohio.
Museum opens the newly constructed Nathan and Fannye Shafran Planetarium and Reinberger Astronomy Hall and Early Childhood Learning Center, along with newly renovated Ralph Perkins II Memorial Wildlife Center and Woods Garden and Smead Discovery Center.
Museum establishes a Center for Conservation & Biodiversity, which includes the Natural Areas Program, Conservation Outreach Program and the Ohio Conservation Alliance.
Curator of Physical Anthropology Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie and his scientific team working in the Middle Awash valley of the Afar Region in Ethiopia have found dental evidence that Ardipithecus kadabba was the earliest species of its genus, dating between 5.54 and 5.77 million years ago. Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology Dr. Joe Hannibal and colleagues discover a new species of pill millipedes, Amynilspes fatimae, in the Upper Carboniferous deposits of Montceau-les Mines, France. Museum dedicates outdoor exedra and sundial, completing the final plans for the Shafran Planetarium.
Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie, head of a scientific team working in Korsi-Dora in the vicinity of Mille town located in the Northern Afar Region, along with his colleagues, find a partial fossil skeleton of a hominid that is probably around 3.8 to 4 million years old, based on associated animal remains. Drs. Yohannes Haile-Selassie and Bruce Latimer lead a team to Ethiopia and discover 12 early hominid fossil specimens from four localities in Afar Region. Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology Dr. Michael Ryan describes and names a new horned dinosaur species, Centrosaurus brinkmani, who lived about 76 million years in the badlands of Alberta, Canada.
The Museum educates a total of five million students over the last 84 years by mid-February of this year. Natural Areas Program now has more than 48 preserves totaling over 3,200 acres. Health Space Cleveland merges with the Museum.
Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology Dr. Michael Ryan describes and names a new horned dinosaur species, Albertaceratops nesmoi, who lived about 78 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous Period in what is now southernmost Alberta, Canada. EcoCity Cleveland merges with the Museum, and the GreenCityBlueLake Institute forms as a result.
RACE: Are We So Different? exhibit explores topic of race in America. Museum acquires a new life-sized cast of T. rex skeleton.
Museum scientists Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie and Dr. Linda Spurlock are part of an international team who discover and publish an article in the journal Science about a new 4.4 million-year-old hominid species, Ardipithecus ramidus.
Trustees appoint Evalyn Gates, Ph.D. as Museum Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer. Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology Dr. Michael Ryan describes and names a new horned dinosaur species, Medusaceratops lokii, who lived nearly 78 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous Period in what is now Montana. Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie and his colleagues publish findings about "Kadanuumuu," a 3.6 million-year-old partial skeleton found in Ethiopia that is 400,000 years older than the famous "Lucy" skeleton and suggests that advanced human-like, upright walking occurred much earlier than previously thought.