After the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Exploration Place to resort to layoffs, exhibit deferrals, and program closures, they are looking to reopen and pick up where they left off.

CEO Tracey Calogheros compares it to building a plane while flying it, but says the museum is starting things up again with the Palaeo-Botany Hall.

The gallery will replace what once was the atrium with dinosaur specimens, living animals with connections to their palaeo-ancestors, and a wall of living plants.

Family bubble seating pods will also be included, with social distancing protocols in mind.

“It is a complete redevelopment of our galleries; one that I am so excited to share with the community,” said Calogheros.

The museum team is asking for the public’s help to fill out the wall.

“Our team Botanist, Chad Hellenius has started to make species selections in coordination with our Head Keeper Sabrina. There are a number of plants that are commonly grown as house plants,” said Calogheros.

Pothos, Swiss Cheese, and Dracaena plants are common and can be used as cuttings for the wall.

“We are going to need somewhere in the neighborhood of 2000 plants just for the living wall and that gets expensive even at $4.00 a plant!  We are hoping to tap into Prince George’s legendary generosity and collect cuttings that we can get growing NOW so we are ready this spring to plant the wall,” said Calogheros.

Clippings are to be about 4” long with at least four leaves, from a healthy, bug-free plant.

“Bring them to us wrapped in a wet paper towel in a zip lock baggie and we will process them from there,” she said.

The museum is also seeking Umbrella Trees, Rubber Plants, and other larger species for the plantings that will fill the Palaeo-Botany Hall beyond the wall.

It hopes to open its doors to the public again on July 1.