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Beauty of biodiversity on display in new exhibition at Cincinnati Museum Center

A Year on the Edge brings 20,000-acre nature preserve to Cincinnati, opening Feb. 5

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) are bringing the beauty of one of the nation’s most biodiverse regions under the dome of Union Terminal. A Year on the Edge features photographs and scientific specimens from the Richard and Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve System to showcase the nature preserve’s ecological impact and natural beauty. The exhibition opens February 5.

The 20,000-acre Richard and Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve System is home to hundreds of plant and animal species, including Allegheny woodrats, wolf spiders, mussels and bobcats. It has inspired amateur and professional naturalists both past and present. From Dr. E. Lucy Braun’s first days studying the Edge’s expansive forests as one of the first women PhD candidates at the University of Cincinnati to today’s Boy and Girl Scouts and casual hikers looking for a bit of wilderness a short drive away, the Edge continues to awe and inspire with its natural wonder.

Through stunning photographs and scientific specimens you, too, will be inspired by the Edge’s seasons of growth and rebirth. A Year on the Edge features nearly 100 framed photographs captured over the course of all four seasons at the Edge that bring the forest to life. Brilliant sunlight streaming through rock crevices, cascading waterfalls and wildlife holding dominion over the landscape illustrate in vivid detail the beauty of the Edge’s wild spaces.

New photography from Samuel James also shows how the preserve’s 20,000 acres come alive at night. Stunning night skies filled with millions of stars mimic the forests, streams and vernal pools teeming with life below. Through long exposures and countless hours, James has captured the different flashing patterns, colors and behaviors of the many firefly species that illuminate the Eastern forest system. Streaks and dots of yellow and green flash a Morse code across the dark landscape that the blink of an eye fails to capture.

Display cases filled with specimens of some of the animals that call the Edge home highlight the rich contributions to regional ecological, botanical and zoological research. Among the specimens included are a bobcat, flying squirrel, fox, a variety of birds and a collection of research tools, including a plant press and notebook from trailblazing naturalist Dr. E. Lucy Braun. Each year researchers from CMC and The Nature Conservancy learn more about the amazing biodiversity at the Edge. In 2019, researchers discovered the region’s first timber rattlesnake and in 2014 discovered the massive Carolina wolf spider at the Edge for the first time in over 60 years. CMC is leading an ongoing conservation project to protect the Allegheny woodrat, one of the rarest mammals in Ohio and a resident of the Edge.

A Year on the Edge opens February 5 in CMC’s Museum of Natural History & Science. The exhibition is free for CMC Members and included with admission.

A Year on the Edge was developed and produced in partnership with the Ohio Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and photographers Rick Conner, TJ Vissing and Samuel James.

Located just 75 miles east of downtown Cincinnati, the 20,000-acre Richard and Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve System is one of the largest privately-owned preserves east of the Mississippi. It contains 11 unique preserves, four of which have been recognized as National Natural Landmarks, a testament to their national significance and ecological importance. The Edge features nearly 10 miles of trails, three nearby canoe/kayak launches and the Eulett Center, which hosts staff, labs and overnight spaces for amateur and professional researchers. The Richard and Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve System is co-managed by Cincinnati Museum Center and the Ohio Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.


About Cincinnati Museum Center
Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) at Union Terminal is a nationally recognized institution and national historic landmark. Dedicated to sparking community dialogue, insight and inspiration, CMC was awarded the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and received accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums in 2012. CMC is one of a select few museums in the nation with both of these honors, making it a unique asset and a vital community resource. Union Terminal has been voted the nation's 45th most important building by the American Institute of Architects. Organizations within CMC include the Cincinnati History Museum, Duke Energy Children's Museum, Museum of Natural History & Science, Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater and Cincinnati History Library & Archives. Recognized by Forbes Traveler Magazine as the 17th most visited museum in the country, CMC welcomes more than 1.8 million visits annually. For more information, visit