Skip to main content

Museums and Animal Attractions: McNeil Avian Center Receives Coveted Thea Award


Main Street Design is pleased to announce that the Philadelphia Zoo’s McNeil Avian Center, for which our firm provided interpretive planning and design, has been honored with a Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement from the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA.) 

This year’s awards were announced on November 17th at the International Association of  Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) annual convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The McNeil Avian Center introduces guests to the remarkable world of birds through a uniquely integrated combination of live animal exhibits, bird show demonstrations, replicated natural habitats, interactive and interpretive experiences, and audiovisual theater programs. These are presented in a stunning contemporary setting that preserves key features of the Zoo’s historic Bird House while creating entirely new interiors, exhibits, and experiences, including a dedicated multimedia theater space and a dramatic fully immersive free-flight tropical forest aviary.

One of only 10 projects recognized as Outstanding Achievements, the McNeil Avian Center won in the category of Zoo Attraction on a Limited Budget. In its citation, the Awards Committee noted that “the Philadelphia Zoo has brought to life an amazing venue with a very small budget and footprint that inspires and educates all who experience it. The combination of up close and personal sights, sounds and smells of the real habitats and inhabitants with the multimedia journey that pulls the viewer in and makes people better able to relate to these special creatures is a truly unique experience. The McNeil Avian Center has set a new standard that may be used as a template for educating the world about the beauty, diversity, amazing instincts and endurance of these creatures.”

Said TEA President Steve Thorburn, “It was a good year for museums as people vacationed closer to home, and as our Thea Awards Committee found, museums are delivering superlative new guest experiences… The predominant thread of this awards cycle is a maturation in the use of technology – we’ve mastered the seamless and transparent blend of media and technology with live performers and physical elements – all in the service of storytelling.”

Main Street Design provided interpretive planning and design for the McNeil Avian Center project. Other key members of the project team included the staff of the Philadelphia Zoo, The Portico Group (live animal exhibit and habitat design), Science North Enterprises (multimedia theater program production), SaylorGregg Architects (architecture), and Lynch Exhibits (interpretive exhibit fabrication.)

Photos: Tom Crane Photography

See also:
Museums: Metropolitan Museum Exhibitions Create $593 Million Economic Impact for New York
Museums: Indianapolis’ New Downtown Attraction to Open

More from this author

Your web browser is out of date. Update your browser for more security, speed and the best experience on this site.

Find out how to update