Now Closed: Cincinnati Under the Sea


Now closed

About 440 million years ago, most life on Earth existed in the oceans. Back then Cincinnati was underwater, covered by a sea that left the layers of shale and limestone seen alongside local roads today. These alternating outcrops expose fossil remains and provide scientists a snapshot into the Ordovician Period.

Cincinnati Under the Sea shows how regional Ordovician fossils contribute to our understanding of Cincinnati’s natural history—and to our understanding of Earth’s evolution. Unearth the ways organisms adapt to environmental changes and experience the depth of Museum Center’s fossil collection in this free exhibit.

Learn more about Cincinnati’s past by exploring our Ordovician Diorama, built by the noted diorama artists Henri, Paul and George Marchand in the late 1950s. Originally commissioned for the Cincinnati Society for Natural History, this rare model reflects life in Cincinnati 440 million years ago.

This exhibit was possible thanks to the Cincinnati Dry Dredgers and Dan Phelps, president of the Kentucky Paleontological Society.

Coloring Pages

Click each image to download and print these coloring pages inspired by the exhibit.


Meet Brenda Hunda

Geier Center Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology & Daughter of the Queen City

Brenda Hunda has been in charge of the largest collection of Upper Ordovician fossils in the world since 2004. On a typical workday, she curates the collection, designs fossil exhibits and develops educational programming for Museum Center.

"Ohio Valley rocks preserve one of the most complete marine records of Ordovician life," Hunda says. "Scientists regularly visit Museum Center’s Ordovician fossil collection, which is one of the largest worldwide and has implications for present and future scientific discussions."

Learn more about Dr. Hunda's research here.