Delaware Museum of Nature & Science

Wilmington, Delaware

Project Size: 20,000 square feet
Designers: Reich & Petch

Inspiring Exploration and Discovery

The Delaware Museum of Nature and Science is dedicated to inspiring people of all ages to a lifetime of exploration and discovery through its galleries, collections, scientific research, and programs. Formerly the Delaware Museum of Natural History, the museum was founded in 1957 and has been open to the public since 1972. For decades, it has prompted visitors to discover how nature connects us all. The museum completed major renovations to its galleries and public spaces and reopened in May 2022.

The museum is not a static entity but a dynamic place where actively discovering and investigating nature and science is celebrated. Above the interactive galleries are millions of scientific specimens serving as a record of biodiversity on Earth and as a resource for scientists all over the world. Scientists curate and maintain the collections and conduct research.

As new threats to earth’s climate and ecosystems emerge, the museum’s purpose to help develop a caring society that respects and values our planet is more important than ever. The museum’s galleries and exhibits seek not only to inform visitors about nature and the planet but also encourage them to actively care about the natural world and incorporate positive contributions in their daily lives.

Discover Delaware’s diverse ecosystems in the Regional Journey Gallery. While Delaware may be a small state in size, its landscapes are very diverse. Visitors can stroll across a giant floor map of the state and explore the diverse ecosystems in the region, including temperate forests, dunes, salt marshes, the bald cypress swamp, and the Delaware Bay. The displays in this gallery are visually exquisite, bringing to life various locations and making visitors feel as if they are walking beneath actual trees or peering at real fish and other wildlife. Diverse life evolves and adapts to a dynamic Earth in the Global Journey Gallery. Visitors explore some of the world’s spectacular ecosystems, including shallow, midwater and deep oceans, the Arctic Tundra, African Savanna, and Tropical Rainforest. Who lived in the Mid-Atlantic region during the Cretaceous Period? That question and many others are explored in the Ellice & Rosa McDonald Foundation PaleoZone, which looks far back in time and includes a dedicated space for the only permanent dinosaur exhibit in the state of Delaware. The focal point of the PaleoZone is a dramatic presentation of creatures that lived in the Mid-Atlantic United States during the Cretaceous Period. The Skylight Atrium is a bright central space features a bold visual interpretation of the Tree of Life, depicting the evolution of organisms over billions of years and the relationships between them in increasingly diverse branches. Moveable exhibit cases explore evolution and natural selection concepts.

Working with designer Reich + Petch over the course of 14 months, kubik maltbie’s scope of work included exhibit platforms, display cases, scenic sculptures, and fascinating dioramas. Improvements in lighting, A.V., media, graphics, and signage were essential. Work was also done to the reception area, cafes, and retail desks including millwork. The overall vision for this project was to bring about a “metamorphosis,” ushering in a new and improved Delaware Museum of Nature and Science by reimaging its main galleries, public spaces, and outdoor campus from static dioramas to interactive, ecosystem-based engagements.

The Delaware Museum of Nature and Science envisions its role as a regional leader in experiential nature and science education and outreach. kubik maltbie’s role in fabricating and installing these exhibits has contributed to making the museum a center for the pursuit and distribution of knowledge about nature and science. The museum continues to motivate visitors to discover, examine, and uncover the wonders of science in the natural world.