The Ron and Lydia Harrington Perennial Playspace

Opening March 19, 2022 at Cleveland Botanical Garden

The Cleveland Botanical Garden announces a new permanent exhibit overlooking the towering plants and trees in the Glasshouses that will engage young and old. The Ron and Lydia Harrington Perennial Playspace will open to the public on Saturday, March 19, 2022.

“We are excited to open this four-season learning and enrichment space that complements our Glasshouse biomes,” said Jill Koski, president, and CEO of Holden Forests & Gardens. “Children and families can use play, observation, creativity, and other hands-on opportunities to create personal and relevant links to their natural surroundings. Our hope is that this experience will plant the seeds for lifelong habits of environmental stewardship.”

The Botanical Garden team worked closely with experiential design firm Roto Group whose philosophy is to deliver full sensory engagement and experiences that forge genuine connections.

Using the plants and trees native to Northeast Ohio and the Cleveland Botanical Garden glasshouses as a jumping-off point, the new gallery will celebrate the importance and variation of plants both locally and around the world. The gallery is hands-on, open-ended, multisensory, and multi-modal. While the target audience is families and groups with children, the whimsical yet organic aesthetics are inviting and sophisticated so that even adults can enjoy and appreciate the space.

The overall design aesthetic aligns with Cleveland Botanical Gardens’ mission which is connecting people with the wonder, beauty, and value of trees and plants. The Ron and Lydia Harrington Perennial Playspace will be clean yet engaging — multi-faceted yet organized in a manner that allows for open exploration. Ultimately, the Perennial Playspace gives members and visitors another year-round destination to explore.

Perennial Playspace Activities:

Sensory Studio

  • Magnification Station- View plants under magnifiers to reveal surprising and beautiful details of various plants
  • Rubbing Table- Use Crayons to reveal the textures of natural plant materials and plates with a leaf rubbing craft
  • Light Table- Observe colorful and translucent images and natural plant materials on a light table
  • Collaboration Tree- Create your own plant-inspired craft using art materials. After finishing your creation hang it up to be on display on the collaborative tree sculpture
  • Sensory Play/Observation Station- This changing activity will allow kids to get their hands into dirt or other plant materials, and learn about the natural world through touch
  • Terrarium- Observe a Madagascar-native panther chameleon in his new permanent enclosure

Marian’s Sensory Play Area

  • Sensory Activities- Sensory Activities geared towards toddlers where they can explore panels with textures inspired by nature, and use pull-up bars to discover themselves in colored mirrors
  • Beehive Climber- This larger-than-life honeycomb cluster encourages kids to buzz around the beehive and pretend to live like a bee
  • Botanical Build- Kids are encouraged to build a sculpture using 2D plant shapes to learn about their importance in our ecosystem
  • Organic Orchestra- Users can have fun making sounds and songs using bamboo, gourds, and more
  • Sketching Frames- Pick up a digital frame to sketch your favorite animals, plants, and trees they saw in the glasshouse, gardens, or gallery.
  • Mural- Learn about Northeast Ohio’s plant communities and those you can find inside our Costa Rica and Madagascar biomesvia a beautifully designed mural

Additional Featured Attractions

Artist Display

In both the Studio and the Play area, on display will be feature artists’ work that is inspired by plants, and whose aesthetic or theme is relatable to children.

Rooftop Planter

Viewable from the play area, a small, curated garden will be on the rooftop to cultivate a green thumb for all ages.

About Roto

Roto is an interdisciplinary creative design agency offering planning, experience design, immersive media, interactive engineering, and custom fabrication for museums, zoos, aquariums, brand destinations and attractions. For more information, visit 

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