Brukner Nature Center is unveiling a new look created during renovations made possible by the support of some friends – actually a good number of friends.

“We are so lucky,” Deb Oexmann, Brukner’s executive director, said of the $500,000 project completed last month.

The renovations focused on the Interpretive Center main floor and feature updated catering facilities, updated restrooms, a school group gathering area, wildlife-friendly landscaping, hands-on wildlife displays and “tons” of storage, she said.

Oexmann said the project was made possible thanks to support of the Duke Foundation, the Robinson Fund, Thom and Pat Robinson, The Troy Foundation, Lundgard Foundation, Virginia Kettering Foundation and Dayton Foundation along with more than 150 individuals, companies and organizations.

This renovation follows the 2011 renovation of the Interpretive Center’s lower level and the addition of the Heidelberg Auditorium in 1998. Also during those years the Iddings log house on the grounds was renovated.

Oexmann said the latest renovations followed the theme of the 2011 project. “We had a vision for what we wanted ... We wanted some warm colors, to bring our wildlife up here so people saw our mission when they walked in the door,” she said.

The center again worked on a project with architect Candy Goodall of Troy and Exhibit Concepts, which also were involved in the lower level project. “They had done the downstairs. We felt that they understood what we wanted,” Oexmann said.

While showing a visitor around the renovated area, she said the mission has been accomplished.

“We wanted people to know what we are all about when they walked in the door. We wanted them to know we are all about wildlife ... and wanted to work on flow,” she said. “It didn’t fell like it flowed before. Now people come in with one obvious entrance, get the information they need at the desk and move on.”

To focus on wildlife, the center brought some of its residents to the first floor such as an owl, a snake and a toad.

To incorporate in the look the center interest in educating through art, an artist was asked to create a Monarch butterfly for display. Michelle Stitzlein of Columbus was sent items collected by center membership to incorporate into a recycled material art.

“She put together one of her amazing found-art pieces,” Oexmann said. “Everybody loves it. The kids will look at it and say, ‘Oh my gosh.’”

Among items seen in a close inspection of the colorful butterfly are a game controller, lawn sheers, poker chips, lawn hose, door springs, thread spools and an ice scraper handle.

The first floor also includes some hands on activities for children, exhibits that can be changed by the season, a small play area and a nature shop with items to help people continue their education with field guides, butterfly nets and souvenirs for children to take home.

The center founded by the late Clayton Brukner and the Interpretive Center built in 1974. A new history hall takes visitors back to the land’s early days and travels through the property’s purchase and preservation by Brukner and events and center awards over the years.

“We are so lucky Mr. Brukner had the vision to preserve this land. I hope he would be proud with what we’ve done with it. I think we have changed a lot of lives,” Oexmann said.

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