On the move…
Summer clean-up of the fourth floor is now complete as we anticipate the start of construction on the fourth floor of Morrill Hall this fall. Closed to the public for more than 50 years, the fourth level of the historic 1920s-era Morrill Hall will soon be transformed into state-of-the-art exhibits using modern technology comparable to those of the Smithsonian.
What was on this floor? Classrooms, offices, and storage. For the last few decades, the floor was frequented by University of Nebraska-Lincoln students attending classes in geology, geography, and anthropology. Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Anthropology faculty, graduate students and Emeriti also had offices and research labs on the fourth floor of Morrill Hall. You can just imagine the shelves and shelves of books and rows of filing cabinets with scholarly research papers. Although off-limits to the public, the fourth floor has been an active research and teaching space for the past two decades.
And, let’s not forget about all the storage! Various rooms and closets were used to store field equipment (nets, waders, picks, tents, boots), photographic equipment, archaeological dig materials, topography maps, teaching collections and teaching equipment –like rocks and mineral specimens, microscopes, and hand lenses. The museum had its educational resource items stored up there (school kits and trunks, Dinosaurs and Disasters program materials) and of course, some exhibit taxidermy - polar bears, mule deer, and peacocks.
What happened to all these people and this ‘stuff’? For starters, the classes that were once held in Morrill Hall will now be located in nearby buildings, closer to the faculty who teach them. For example, geology labs will now be held in Bessey Hall and anthropology courses will relocate back to Oldfather Hall. And all the faculty, Emeriti and graduate students have been provided new office spaces in or near their home-departments.
As for the museum’s educational and exhibit materials, the Museum sorted and made decisions – to keep or not to keep? That is the question. Our taxidermied animals, like the polar bears, have migrated to Nebraska Hall and back into our scientific collections. Educational materials that were not needed have been donated, recycled, or disposed of. Remaining materials found new storage homes throughout the museum. It was a big job.
In addition to the move-out happening on the fourth floor, the Museum’s fourth floor content planning team continues to work closely with Kenneth Hahn Architects and design firm Gallagher and Associates to finalize exhibit design details of the redevelopment plan. Taking the scientific content and translating it into exciting exhibits is no easy feat. We have moved into exhibit design development and are creating construction documents.
When completed, Cherish Nebraska will celebrate Nebraska’s natural heritage – the diversity of life that has been shaped over the millennia by Nebraska’s changing environments. Visitors will journey from Nebraska’s Landscapes through time and space, and learn how our state’s natural heritage – our birds, plants and animals - is shaped by geological changes and human-impacts. They will become engaged in the joy and excitement of scientific discovery as they learn about University of Nebraska research on all UN campuses.
In the upcoming months, we look forward to sharing our progress with you and some ‘behind the scenes” images and video as we renovate the fourth floor.
July 28, 2017. The last inhabitant of Morrill Hall's fourth floor, an old and very heavy safe.
July 28, 2017. A lab has been emptied prior to construction.