Inside the Hall of Birds at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History | Animal Issue | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper
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Inside the Hall of Birds at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History 

“We want to make people feel like this is not just something to rush through. It’s an exhibit, a destination to connect with.”

Toucan Sam and other fowl in the Hall of Birds

CP photo by Carley Bonk

Toucan Sam and other fowl in the Hall of Birds

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History knows how to turn every inch of free space into a learning experience, including the hallways. One exhibit that proves this is the Hall of Birds. 

The hallway, connecting other exhibits at the museum, displays 306 taxidermied birds of various sizes and habitats — just a fraction of the Carnegie’s collection — including some specimens more than 100 years old. And Rebecca Shreckengast, director of exhibition experience, says this high-traffic area makes a lot of curious guests slow down.

“Even if people are in a rush to get to where they’re going, we have this intrinsic connection to birds,” Shreckengast says. “They are a part of our everyday lives, we hear them, we know about them.”

Shreckengast is part of the team that is looking to re-imagine the Hall of Birds so it connects with visitors even more. The dark hallway is lacking entrance signage or much decoration, but that’s something Shreckengast is hoping to change.

“We are also looking at the long term, how we can create a more atmospheric feeling in here, like trees touching over a road and there’s sort of a tunnel effect,” Shreckengast says. “We are also going to be describing the connection between dinosaurs and birds as well.”

However, since projects like this are usually funded through donations from patrons and organizations, Shreckengast says the renovation is expected to be slow-moving. 

“We want to make people feel like this is not just something to rush through,” Shreckengast says. “It’s an exhibit, a destination to connect with.”


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