By BRADEN LAMMERS
The Falls of the Ohio State Park kicked off its plans to redesign the park’s interpretive center Friday.
First in line for revitalization is remodeling the Interpretive Center’s rotunda, complete with a sculpture made of steel and blown glass being constructed by Flame Run Hotshop and Gallery in Louisville. The shop offered a sneak peek at the sculpture’s design and also served as a kick-off to move the Falls of the Ohio Foundation into its next phase of the project.
“We’ve almost reached our $3 million benchmark in our $5.5 million campaign and we’re really moving out of sort of a silent phase of our fundraising into a much more public phase,” said Jennifer Wilcox, director of advancement for the Falls of the Ohio Foundation.
The goal is to complete the fundraising campaign and to have exhibits being installed by 2013.
Along with giving the constituency a sneak peek at a sculpture and to launching the public fundraising component of the campaign, the group planned to unveil the final design for the new exhibits and project at Friday’s event.
The purpose for the redesign of the interpretive center is to bring the exhibits up to date and make them more interactive and accessible to visitors.
“The exhibits have not been changed since the interpretive center was completed,” Wilcox said. “Overall, the exhibits that are there were designed and fabricated and installed in 1994.”
While she added the story that the Falls of the Ohio’s exhibits tell will be the same, because museum visitors are changing the way in which they learn, they experience museums differently and are much more technologically driven, a redesign of the attractions was needed.
“We want to bring our museum experience for visitors up-to-date,” Wilcox said.
Along with tying into the natural surroundings, the interpretive center links 390 million years of history through multiple exhibits consisting of an ancient sea, a changing land, converging cultures and the falls today.
“The combination of science, nature, history and art in this large-scale sculpture design is quite remarkable,” said Dani Cummins, executive director of the Falls of the Ohio Foundation in a press release. “Brook White and his Flame Run team are creating an amazing focal point for our Crossroads Campaign for new exhibits.”
The rotunda project — which is the first update to get under way — will serve as the visitor’s gateway to the exhibit gallery.
According to the Falls of the Ohio Foundation, the redesign of the space will include dismantling and reconfiguration of the central diorama specimens and artifacts elsewhere in the Interpretive Center; moving the Mammoth to the entrance of the auditorium; installing interpretive signage along the top of the rotunda introducing the four exhibit themes; and the design, fabrication and installation of the Flame Run blown glass sculpture to hang from the ceiling.
Reconstruction of the rotunda is set to begin Monday and is scheduled to be complete by Aug. 20, when the Falls will host its annual Rock the Rocks fundraising event.