Cornell Lab of Ornithology Visitor Center reopens

The Visitor Center at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is now open again to the public, following a multimillion-dollar redesign that began last fall and focused on interactive exhibits, art and accessibility.

“I am a staunch believer that having in-person experiences matters in a big way,” said Lisa Kopp, the Cornell Lab’s visitor experience manager. “We want to inspire people, feed their curiosity with accessible science, and create a sense of community and belonging. When they leave, we want visitors to feel that they’re much more committed to protecting birds and nature with us.”

The Bird Discovery Lab at the Lab of Ornithology Visit Center.

The new sound table exhibit in the Adelson Family Bird Discovery Lab area features a flowing river of images between eight headphone stations. Touch an image to get playlists or single sounds of birds, mammals, insects and other creatures. Dip into quiz mode to match a sound with the creature that made it, and explore spectrograms – visual representations of sound. Collecting and studying animal sounds has been a cornerstone of Lab science since it was founded in 1915.

“There’s plenty for younger visitors to try,” Kopp said. “We have a hands-on puzzle maze in which kids have to match life-size wooden eggs with the right bird. They can pick up and compare a hollow bird bone with that of a deer, a difference in weight that makes it possible for birds to fly.”

The connection between art and the study of birds is woven through all the public areas, showing changes in skill and style over time. The Wild Birds Unlimited store is also open again, under new owners – who happen to be Cornell alumni.

Great attention has been paid to accessibility during the redesign. In addition to physical access, resources like Braille text, a descriptive audio tour and an American Sign Language video tour will be rolled out over the next few months.

“If you can’t get here before school starts again, save the date for our Visitor Center Reopening Celebration, coming up on Sept. 14, when we will be officially celebrating our reopening,” Kopp said. “And despite all the new bells and whistles in the Visitor Center, one thing stays the same: We want this to be a contemplative, beautiful space that reflects what we are all about – nature.”

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Visitor Center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; the center is closed on Monday. For more information about public events at the Lab, visit

Pat Leonard is a writer for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

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