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Prehistoric past comes alive once again as Yale Peabody Museum reopens

The Yale Peabody Museum in New Haven, CT is set to re-open its doors on Tuesday March 26, 2024 - after an extensive renovation to its exhibits and experiences. March 11, 2024
Dave Wurtzel
/
Connecticut Public
The Yale Peabody Museum in New Haven, CT is set to re-open its doors on Tuesday March 26, 2024 - after an extensive renovation to its exhibits and experiences. March 11, 2024

The Yale Peabody Museum reopened Tuesday after a four-year-long renovation and expansion of its facilities. Visitors like Malik McCant, who came on a field trip with classmates from Augusta Lewis Troop School in New Haven, are now seeing the museum better reflect the needs of the community, even if its displays are hard to fathom.

“I can't believe this, like, it feels not real, but at the same time it is real,” McCant said.

McCant is one of hundreds of visitors to arrive Tuesday, and there’s a lot to see. The brontosaurus exhibit has been revamped. And office space was turned into additional exhibit space, along with other improvements.

The museum is now more inclusive and more connected to the community with new learning spaces and free admission, according to Yale Peabody Museum Director David Skelly.

Allowing visitors in for free made sense, Skelly said.

“Before we closed, the Peabody was the only Yale museum that was charging admission,” Skelly said. “And yet, it really in many ways, is the most connected to New Haven and the public in Connecticut in general.”

Museum visitors are able to see the Peabody’s famed brontosaurus exhibit more accurately, now that its tail is in the air, the result of advancements in research on the animal’s biomechanics.

The museum now boasts eight additional classrooms for academic research and facilities for K-12 students. The expansion and renovation was the result of a $160 million gift from Yale University alumnus and billionaire Edward P. Bass to the museum.

Skelly said the new focus on community engagement reflects wider changes in the museum’s mission over the last years. Before, exhibits were depicted as the authoritative depiction of an object, but now, it also includes individual displays by everyday people and future workshops on making scientific fieldwork more inclusive.

And for some visitors like Julianna McVeigh, a graduate student at the Yale School of Public Health, the museum’s free price makes sense.

“It was in the ground. And now here we are, so we might as well be able to see it.”