Behind the scenes at the Cincinnati Museum Center - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Behind the scenes at the Cincinnati Museum Center

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Every year, about 1.47 million people come to the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal.

But what goes on behind the scenes? FOX19 took a look.

"Artifacts are not unlike the written word. It's just another tool in history to tell the story," said David Conzett, curator of history collections.

There are thousands of those tools at the Cincinnati Museum Center, and even more locked inside a climate-controlled annex at the Geier Center.

"The history object collection has grown from 8,000 to 9,000 pieces in '89 to well over 40,000 to 45,000 today," said Conzett.

Each item the Museum Center acquires is photographed, given a number and researched before being stored.

There's a collection of General William Lytle's Civil War pieces, some the public has not yet seen.

"And this is General Lytle's medal. It's solid gold, there's an emerald the size of a pencil eraser surrounded by solid white diamonds," said Conzett.

Ulysees S. Grant's baby cradle has been preserved. Henry Probasco's writing set and Nicholas Longworth's furniture is getting ready for display.

There's an old Crosley station wagon, a television camera and of course many pieces of Cincinnati's brewery history.

"Some people get kind of upset. They say, 'Why aren't these things on exhibit?' Well, there's not always the room, there's not always the right story," said Conzett.

There are thousands of objects on display at the Cincinnati Museum Center but what's on the floor is only about 3 percent of their entire collection."

The Museum Center is also a research facility. Crates and cabinets are filled with fossil pieces and dinosaur bones including the skeleton of a 60-foot diplotycus researchers found in Montana.

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"Our hope is someday to put it together in a museum but it's a long, long process to get it out of the ground," said Dr. Glenn Storrs, Assistant Vice President for Collections and Research. "It took us 4 years. And it's a much longer process to clean it in a laboratory and get it ready for exhibition."

Hundreds of boxes hold pieces of Cincinnati's archaeological history. Among them are Native American ornamental pieces and even a fossil more than 500 years old that shows an arrowhead lodged in a deer's vertebrae, found right here in the Tri-state.

"When archaeologists go to bed at night, they dream about other people's trash. So that's what we're doing. We're looking in their trash pits to see what we can find," said Robert Genheimer, curator of Archaeology.

The Museum Center is nearly out of storage space but curators say they'll find the room, anything to preserve Cincinnati's history.

"Whether it's on exhibit or not, it's being preserved. It's being cared for for future generations," said Conzett.

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