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New Dinosaur Hall to Create Landmark Experience at Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
Luis M. Chiappe, director of the Dinosaur Institute, in white shirt, talks with a journalist at a preview of a Tyrannosaurus rex growth exhibit, featuring three specimens of varying ages, at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011. Featured are fossils of a 30-foot-long young adult, about 18 years old, upper left; a 20-foot-long juvenile, about 14, right; and an 11-foot-long baby, about 2, said to be the youngest known specimen, lower left. The T. rex trio will be the centerpiece of a new, expanded Dinosaur Hall, with some 300 fossils, 20 full-body specimens, interactive and video exhibits, in two large galleries that will more than double the previous space. The hall is scheduled to open to the public in July, 2011. AP Photo/Reed Saxon.

LOS ANGELES, CA.-This summer, the much-anticipated new Dinosaur Hall opens to the public at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. The large-scale permanent exhibition will be presented in two light-filled galleries – twice the size of the Museum’s old dinosaur galleries. The Dinosaur Hall will rival the world’s leading dinosaur halls — for the sheer volume of individual fossils displayed; the size and extraordinariness of the major mounts, including the world’s only T. rex growth series; and the transparent treatment of the science that surrounds these creatures — not as static, definitive knowledge but as a vibrant, ongoing investigation of mysteries solved and still unsolved.

The exhibition features over 300 fossils, 20 full body specimens, manual and digital interactives, and large-format video. The T. rex series features an adult, juvenile, and baby. The adult, nicknamed Thomas, is one of the most complete T. rex specimens in the world, excavated by NHM paleontologists from 2003-3005. Other standouts include an imposing Triceratops, a 68-foot long-necked Mamenchisaurus, and specimens from California and the water that once covered it — the mosasaur Plotosaurus, and the plesiosaur Morenosaurus are both cantilevered over the main floor in a breathtaking, gravity-defying scene. Two-thirds of the full-body specimens have never been displayed before; the specimens that have been displayed have all been re-articulated in new and more dynamic poses.

“The new Dinosaur Hall is a spectacular realization of the goal of our transformation, which is to bring the research and collections of the Natural History Museum vividly to life for a public that is hungry for wonder, discovery and knowledge,” said Dr. Jane Pisano, NHM President and Director. “The exhibition will emerge as one of the major dinosaur experiences in the world, and its specimens and science will easily position the Museum as the West Coast’s hub for dinosaurs.”

The Dinosaur Hall is the latest component of NHM Next, the six-year, $135 million campaign that will transform the Museum. Now at its midpoint, this unique public-private partnership has raised more than $80 million. The new exhibition follows this summer’s critically-acclaimed, campaign-supported openings of Age of Mammals and the Haaga Family Rotunda. By 2013, the NHM Next Campaign will have supported an institution-wide, indoor/outdoor evolution: five new permanent exhibitions; a pedestrian bridge and car park in 2011; 3.5 acres of urban nature experiences and the Nature Lab, the outdoor space’s indoor component, in the summer of 2012; and an exhibition about Los Angeles’ natural and cultural history in late 2012.

The Dinosaur Hall is organized around a series of questions or mysteries. What is a dinosaur? What was their world like? How did they live, grow and behave? And finally, what happened to them?

To provide insight into how scientists puzzle out answers to these questions — to reveal the stories behind these astonishing specimens — the specimen-rich exhibition relies on the ambitious discovery and research programs of the NHM’s in-house Dinosaur Institute, led by world-renowned paleontologist and exhibit lead curator, Dr. Luis Chiappe. Fossils are the building blocks of everything we know about the dinosaurs, but Chiappe has created a sense of a continuum for the thrill of discovery and scientific inquiry — there are specimens yet to be unearthed, and research technologies yet to be discovered.

“The new Dinosaur Hall has the potential of inspiring new generations of scientists, since this exhibition highlights discovery-based fieldwork, the experience of going outdoors and finding treasures, and then understanding how they fit within current scientific record,” said Dr. Chiappe. “Most dinosaur exhibitions are organized around specific types of dinosaurs or by periods of time. Our approach is quite different. Using new discoveries and research findings, we’re able to bring visitors into the world of dinosaurs by exploring the great questions of how they lived, behaved, and died, and whether they still exist.”

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