Bringing the universe to Union Terminal

Nestled among the Eastern forests, the 20,000-acre Richard and Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve System in Adams County includes a staggering array of unique ecosystems, plants and animals. Thanks to the support of Western & Southern Financial Group, Cincinnati Museum Center now has the opportunity to integrate the Edge of Appalachia into Union Terminal in honor of legendary artist and naturalist John A. Ruthven with the new John A. & Judy Ruthven Edge of Appalachia Gallery.

“We are excited to inspire people to explore the natural wonders of the universe in their own backyards, just like Ruthven,” says David Nevers, Vice President of Public Relations and Corporate Communications for Western & Southern. “Through our support of the John A. & Judy Ruthven Edge of Appalachia Gallery, we look forward to fulfilling our own mission to make the Cincinnati community a great place to live, work and celebrate life.”

Ruthven spent much of his life championing the role of scientific research at Cincinnati Museum Center, starting in 1935 when, as a 10-year-old boy, Ruthven donated his first specimen – a hummingbird that was caught in his window – to the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History. Ruthven would go on to spend several years serving on the board of trustees, which is something he bonded over with longtime friend and fellow Emeritus Trustee, Neil Armstrong. Like Ruthven, Armstrong, too, was in the business of exploring the larger universe around him.

Apollo 11 Commander Armstrong was born and raised in Ohio and, after retiring, moved to the Cincinnati area. He was instrumental in the creation of Cincinnati Museum Center, lending his public support to campaigns to save its home at Union Terminal.

In 2019, Cincinnati Museum Center was selected to host the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibition Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission. Union Terminal was one of only five venues to host the traveling exhibition, and one of only two to host during the 50th anniversary year of Apollo 11’s historic trip to the moon.

“It was our pleasure to help bring Destination Moon to Cincinnati,” states Ed Babbitt, Vice President of Government Relations and Senior Counsel for Western & Southern and Secretary/Treasurer of the company’s philanthropic foundation. The Apollo 11 achievement and story are vitally important to our community and the country.”

Upon entering Destination Moon at Cincinnati Museum Center, guests were welcomed by a commissioned painting by none other than Ruthven himself. Called “Eagle to the Moon,” the painting depicts a bald eagle in Ruthven’s signature detail and commemorates Armstrong’s space flight. It is one of the artist’s most well-known paintings.

The centerpiece of the exhibition was the Apollo 11 command module Columbia, which transported Armstrong and his crew to the moon and back for the historic journey. The exhibition included more than 20 one-of-a-kind artifacts from the Smithsonian, many flown aboard Apollo 11, as well as interactive and unique artifacts from the Space Race and historic videos documenting how the challenge of putting the first human on the moon moved our nation during the 1960s.

“In supporting these two world-class exhibits, we are signaling to all Cincinnatians and visitors to our region that now, more than ever, is the time to invest in our future. By celebrating two of Cincinnati’s finest exhibitions at one of our region’s greatest treasures, we are able to inspire the next generation to take flight and ask the questions that will lead all of us to a better tomorrow,” David added.