Our Expanding Nature Center – September 9, 2017

Fast and furious!

That’s the pace of activities currently underway in the Nature Center expansion as we prepare for our Grand Opening on October 13th!

The impressive aquarium array is now undergoing finishing touches. Any day now, the tanks will be ready to serve as the new homes of all of our aquatic species – though “moving day” for the animals won’t be until the week of the opening.


Snappy’s new home will be front and center!


All of the aquatic species will have much more space


Meanwhile, Frank Ramey (of Ramey Home Pro) is installing graphic reader rails for all of the exhibits, and pedestals for the two large dioramas that will accompany the aquarium tanks in the main gallery. These two exhibits are being created by Ponds and Plants of Dayton TN. One of these will showcase many of  the mammals, reptiles and amphibians found in the Park, incorporating both live and taxidermy specimens into a woodland scene. The other diorama will feature the wide variety of birds that are commonly found in the Park, along with their descriptions and additional information, including some of the more common bird sounds to be heard.


Diorama construction has begun


Woodland Diorama Design (click to see larger image)


Birder’s Forest Diorama Design (click to see larger image)


While Frank prepares the pedestals for the two dioramas, Ponds and Plants is already working on an interpretive Crawl-through Cave Exhibit located under the grand stairway on the lake side of the building. This interactive feature will not only be great fun for young kids to explore, but also very informative for older children and adults!


Cave construction from above


Cave construction by Ponds and Plants is underway!


They will also be installing a Waterfowl Exhibit in the atrium overlooking the lake and knobs of the Park. As with the dioramas, this display will showcase species that either reside in the Park or frequently pass through during migrations. Nearby spotting scopes will allow visitors to explore the real world as they look beyond the interpretive exhibit through the expansive glass windows above the stairway.


Site of Waterfowl Exhibit soon to be installed


Murals and graphic panels for the aquariums, dioramas and other areas of the Nature Center have been designed by Ed Hackley (our exhibit designer and project manager), and will be printed and installed by Modern D-Signs here in Bristol.

While all of these pieces of the installation puzzle are falling into place, City crews are busy with additional finish work such as painting and lighting installation.  In addition, they are hard at work creating an esthetically pleasing, functional, and highly versatile space for the 1,200 square foot DeFriece-Wilson Classroom.

All of this work is to prepare the new Nature Center for our grand opening during Wildlife Weekend in October.  The official ribbon cutting is now set for 3:00 pm on October 13th.  At 7:00 pm that day, Jeremy Stout will talk about the history of the Nature Center, as provide an overview of all that the expanded facility will have to offer, both immediately and in the future.

We have many more exciting plans for the Nature Center, both in the newly created space as well as in the existing space that will be totally renovated to create additional galleries as well as work areas for the staff, volunteers, and researchers. That means there are still plenty of opportunities to contribute to our expansion effort.  For more information on how you can help make this happen, click here or contact us at: [email protected].


The New and the Old


Upper (Main) Floor Plan (click image to enlarge)



Lower (Ground) Floor Plan (click image to enlarge)

Contact us by e-mail at [email protected]



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