There's more to Cincinnati Museum Center than meets the eye.

Around 1.3 million visitors annually enter Union Terminal beneath its iconic rotunda to view Museum Center's most popular exhibits such as "Bodies," "Dead Sea Scrolls" and "Ultimate Dinosaurs" that continues through Labor Day. But a mile down the road at Gest and Fifth Streets is where the real action takes place.

"People come from all over the world to study here," said Dave Duszynski, vice president of featured experiences.

Within the 70,000-square foot Geier Collections & Research Center, five full-time curators in the specialties of Zoology, Invertebrate and Vertebrate Paleontology, Anthropology, and Fine Arts, countless volunteers, and researchers from across the globe work to preserve and study thousands of fossils and precious artifacts.

"Around 90 percent of our collections are not on display," says Casey Kroger, Museum Center's manager of marketing and communications. "And it's not just sitting in boxes. There's a lot of ongoing preservation."

Exhibits such as "Ultimate Dinosaurs," which welcomed more than 10,000 visitors in its first two weeks after opening in June, and permanent attractions such as the OMNIMAX theater and Children's Museum, have helped Museum Center achieve steady growth. "We saw an increase in memberships during the recession," Kroger said. "Families saw the value in it."

While Museum Center has earned a reputation as a leading international research facility, it has never strayed far from its roots. Union Terminal, its home base, is steeped in Cincinnati history. "We're all about bringing Cincinnati history to life," said Kroger.

At "Ultimate Dinosaurs" you'll find many newly discovered species that evolved in isolation in the Southern Hemisphere, apart from more familiar cousins Tyrannosaurus Rex and Brontosaurus. You'll find the "CMC" label on many of the fossils on display, meaning they were discovered and preserved by Museum Center staff, including rare samples of fossilized dinosaur skin and eggs. "We always try to highlight our collections and tell our story," said Duszynski.

Museum Center is the first of eight stops for "Ultimate Dinosaurs," which originated at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and was delivered here in 12 semis, taking 30 people five weeks to assemble. The "Giants of Patagonia" will exit Union Terminal next month, but the activity won't slow down at the Museum.

August 10 and 11 is 1940s Weekend, which celebrates an era when Union Terminal was a bustling transportation hub welcoming as many as 34,000 train passengers per day. The event will feature food, dress, and culture of the 40s. October is Science Month with National Fossil Day scheduled for Oct. 19 and BatFest on Oct. 26.

"Our goal is to bring the best possible exhibits and experiences to the Cincinnati community," Duszynski said.