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Cincinnati Museum Center awarded competitive national grant

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) was awarded yesterday a prestigious grant by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The highly competitive grant totaling nearly $250,000 will fund future exhibit development as the museum continues an extensive multiyear museum experience refresh.

CMC was one of just 122 projects nationally – and one of only two projects locally – to receive funding from the IMLS’s Museums for America program. The program supports projects that strengthen the ability of individual museums to benefit the public by providing high-quality, inclusive learning experiences. The Museums for America program is IMLS’s largest competitive grant program. The $249,685 grant was just shy of the IMLS’s Museums for America grant maximum of $250,000 for the funding cycle.

“This is a thrilling day for Cincinnati Museum Center as we continue a bold vision for the future of our museum. The Museums for America grant will help us develop and deliver on a transformative museum exhibit that will give voice to and bring forward the incredible history of our region’s indigenous people,” said Elizabeth Pierce, president & CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “To us, this is a statement of our value and our unique role as a conduit for our region’s cultural heritage. We’re grateful for the generosity of the Institute for Museum and Library Services.”

The IMLS grant will be used to fund a future permanent exhibit that will explore the region’s long history of human habitation, from the earliest indigenous groups to the tribal nations who still call the central Ohio Valley home. The exhibit, currently in development and slated to open in 2026 or 2027, will build on more than a decade of work by CMC, including over a dozen years of archaeological excavation and research in the Little Miami River Valley, close relationships with 17 federally-recognized Tribal Nations and ongoing Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) work.

The future gallery will be the latest in CMC’s ambitious museum refresh funded by its $112 million Champion More Curiosity campaign. Since 2018, CMC has opened a dozen new or reimagined permanent exhibits – including Dinosaur Hall, Neil Armstrong Space Exploration Gallery presented by the Harold C. Schott Foundation, Made in Cincinnati and the John A. and Judy Ruthven Get Into Nature Gallery – plus active labs and programming spaces, including the Paleo Lab, DNA Lab, STEM Lab and History in the Making Classroom.

The newest permanent addition to the museum experience will open this fall when Ancient Worlds Hiding in Plain Sight opens in the Museum of Natural History & Science September 29. The gallery will transport guests back in time 450 million years as they begin their journey in a tropical prehistoric sea that covered the Cincinnati area in the Late Ordovician Period and then evolve into the Silurian, Devonian and Carboniferous Periods. The gallery is CMC’s opportunity to showcase its collection of Late Ordovician fossils – considered to be among the largest and finest in the world – and introduce guests to prehistoric animals including trilobites, giant cephalopods, crinoids and the giant-jaws of the fierce armored fish Dunkleosteus.

“Ancient Worlds Hiding in Plain Sight is an exhibit 450 million years in the making and is our opportunity to show why Cincinnati is world famous in the field of invertebrate paleontology,” added Pierce. “It’s the latest way we’re building our future museum, one that will create future scientists, innovators and leaders and foundational memories for a new generation.”

Visit for more information on the Champion More Curiosity campaign, including a timeline of completed exhibits.

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