Delaware Museum of Natural History
A new future-focused masterplan was developed for the DMNH, a first step in its revitalization. Digital interactivity, charismatic collections, and hands-on science are features of the new galleries for the Delaware Museum of Natural History.
- Delaware Museum of Natural History
- Delaware Museum of Natural History
- 38,000 sq. ft.
- Exhibit Design, Master Planning
- Wilmington, DE, USA
- Year Completed
R&P was commissioned by the Delaware Museum of Natural History (DMNH) to create a new Master Plan that would set a strategic design pathway for new galleries and exhibits. The plan provides support for its education efforts and public programs, including expanding interactivity, focusing on the interdisciplinary qualities of nature and science, and encouraging community partnerships. It is the first strategic step leading to a capital campaign for new galleries. The new galleries will draw extensively from the collections and the research of the museum.
DMNH is in the midst of a renewal has embarked on an ambitious plan to propel the Museum forward. Strategic planning and market research, and visitor focus group studies were completed, experiments with new types of exhibits were undertaken, and many aspects of the Museum’s operations are being reviewed and revitalized.
The new galleries increase interactivity and feature hands-on science at “Investigation Stations” and Citizen Science programming spaces. DMNH researchers and their discoveries feature in the new “Research Headquarters”. The Master Plan inspired the Museum to rebrand itself as the Delaware Museum of Nature and Science, once new exhibits are complete.
The Museum journey begins in the Atrium. Greeted by installations of diverse animals, birds, shells, butterflies, insects, and more, it’s about biodiversity. On either side of the Atrium, two gallery wings are organized according to Global and Regional ecosystems. Each wing offers hands-on models and interactives and dynamic displays of DMNH collections. Visitors can explore the wonder and importance of biodiversity.
The Global Journey Gallery highlights six global ecosystems, each featured on a global floor map. Displays include a simulated marine submersible, media screens evoking diverse environments, taxidermy specimens, touchable models and kids’ discovery zones with hands-on activities.
Completing the Museum experience is the Paleozone, featuring visitor favourites: two spectacular dinosaurs, complete with VR viewers and a crawl-through with dinosaur tracks; the Delaware fossils collection; and Dr. Fossil, a gallery interpreter. Outside, the new “Evolution Trail” exhibit encircles the building, leading visitors from the Big Bang fountain to present-day as they encounter models of key life forms and learn about milestones in our planet’s evolutionary history.
All of the newly-designed galleries have increased digital interactivity and feature hands-on science in Investigation Stations and Citizen Science programming spaces.
Creating an Exhibit Master Plan for the Delaware Museum of Natural History will help to set the stage for future generations of Museum visitors. The reports form the foundation for planning exciting new experiences for visitors to the Museum and its beautiful campus. R&P led workshops with museum staff, volunteers and members, as well as educators, casual visitors, and stakeholder partners to gain vital feedback from those who would use the redesigned and updated museum the most. The team’s interpretive and design approach, guided by the Museum’s extensive audience research, was well-received and resonated with workshop participants. The R&P Master Plan has resulted in the bold rebranding of the Museum as the Delaware Museum of Nature and Science.