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Work nears completion on $6 million overhaul of southern Indiana state park's museum exhibits


CLARKSVILLE, Indiana — Work is nearing completion on $6 million in renovations at a southern Indiana state park's museum, with new exhibits highlighting the geography and cultural history of the area along the Ohio River.

The Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center is set to reopen in January after being closed for construction since late last year.

The center's new exhibits will be much more interactive than those which had been at the center since it opened in 1994, park Executive Director Dani Cummings told the (New Albany) News and Tribune (http://bit.ly/1iuPiyF ).

The featured attraction at the state park near the Ohio River town of Clarksville is a 400-million-year-old fossilized coral reef.

The center's new exhibits will include an in-house GPS system that will allow visitors to locate where specific types of fossils are located in those fossil beds. Other exhibits will show how glacial shifts affected the area's landscape and formed the Ohio River, and document the conflicts and interactions between Native Americans and the region's first European settlers.

Visitors will also be able to interact with a "live aquarium" to see the types of plants and animals that can currently be found in the Ohio River in the area near Louisville, Kentucky, and hear what the Shawnee language sounds like through a story.

"We're trying to involve as much sensory experience as we can," Cummings said. "People learn a lot from sound."

For the language feature, Solid Light, a Louisville design firm, worked with a Shawnee tribe, going to Oklahoma to record people speaking the Shawnee language.

"There won't be a word-for-word translation but there will be a summary," she said. "There's a grandmother, a father and the granddaughter. And they've just come back from a fishing trip and that's what they're talking about."

Cummings said the Falls of the Ohio Foundation was able to raise $6 million for the renovation through fundraisers, memberships, grants from foundations, corporations and individuals.

Foundation President Diane Swank said she believed the new exhibits will prove popular with visitors.

"We know there's going to be great excitement to come and see," she said. "Because we've had a lot of inquiries, and we know that there will be great community support because we've had tremendous support in donations so we certainly know that that will feed over into the general public wanting to see the new exhibits."

Information from: News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Indiana, http://www.newsandtribune.com

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