Franklin Park and the Conservatory became the host site for AmeriFlora ’92, a six-month international horticulture exposition. Renovation of the historic Palm House and a $14-million expansion began in 1989. Additions totaled 58,000 square feet and included expanded plant collections, classrooms, a library, gift shop, café and administrative offices.
At the end of Ameriflora, Ohio Legislature created the Franklin Park Conservatory Joint Recreation District for the long-term management of the Conservatory. Ownership of the Conservatory and surrounding 28 acres was conferred to a new 10-member board of trustees and an executive director.
In 1994, the Conservatory debuted Blooms & Butterflies, becoming the first conservatory in the nation to showcase a seasonal butterfly exhibition. More than twenty years later, this annual exhibition continues to attract thousands of visitors and school groups each year.
In 2003, the Conservatory presented Chihuly at the Conservatory, a popular exhibition that brought a record number of visitors to view it. The Friends of the Conservatory, a private, nonprofit group, purchased most of the pieces in the exhibition to become a permanent collection.
Several exhibitions that merge nature and art have followed. Chapungu: Stories in Stone was a collection of beautiful and compelling stone sculptures by self-taught artists from Zimbabwe, Branching Out featured the work of Patrick Daugherty, and Paul Busse’s imaginative garden railroads delighted all in Enchanted Express. Contemporary artists including Dennis Oppenheim, Laura Stein, and Andy Goldsworthy came together in the exhibition Bending Nature.
Glass artist Debra Moore’s orchids were displayed in 2011, and Aurora Robson’s sculptures debuted at the Conservatory in 2012. In the fall of 2013, the Conservatory hosted an exhibition by internationally recognized British artist Bruce Munro. Light at Franklin Park Conservatory featured 10 large-scale light installations and gallery works, and created an enchanting evening experience for Conservatory visitors.