NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The Yale Peabody Museum has been closed for more than three years for renovations, but it’s beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Anticipation is mounting as the museum is putting the pieces back together after what will be a four-year renovation.
“We’ve been installing exhibits the past two months,” collections manager Vanessa Rhue said.
With new windows to increase light and more doorways to improve flow, the museum is coming back to life after an extensive, years-long renovation.
Rhue said they’re in the “beginning of the last stage,” noting that there is still a lot left to do.
The incredible fossils are returning to the halls, but many are in new halls to increase access and visibility. The Whitney Gallery, now the Human Footprint Gallery, showcases a mastodon.
“One of the opportunities we’ve had is to revisit the conservation of these specimens, remove those older adhesives,” Rhue said.
The brackets that hold the bones together, called armatures, are now more holistic and graceful.
“The visitor really sees the specimen and isn’t distracted by the supporting framework,” Rhue said.
The museum was gutted, from the floor to the ceiling, requiring much care, attention, and expertise to conserve these precious items. The brontops were cleaned and now look entirely different.
One specific mural, the “Age of Reptiles” painted by Yale graduate Rudolph Zallinger in the 1940s, recently re-emerged from an enclosure.
Mariana DiGiacomo, natural history conservator, said they “really cared for this mural during the renovation.”
“We absolutely love it, and it’s part of New Haven so it is an old friend that will come back for a lot of people,” DiGiacomo said.
Another new feature is a model of a Gastornus — a large bird whose modern relatives are geese and ducks. Also, a beautiful central gallery, showcasing skeletons, is new to the museum.
External architectural elements are exposed in the light-filled space.
“There will also be live plants in this area, there will be tables and chairs and soft seating for visitors to stop and take a break,” director of collections and research Susan Butts said.
Years of work — and thought — will result in a museum that’s current, while still showcasing the ancient. It’s a much-anticipated place for exploration and education.
The museum plans to reopen in early 2024 with free admission. Find out more information here.