Sunday, February 2, 2014

Saying Goodbye to the Dinosaurs

Where: Natural History Museum

When: through April 28, 2014

I went over to Natural History this week in order to take one last look at the exhibits on dinosaurs and fossils before they close for the foreseeable future.  The entire area is getting a massive renovation, which won't be complete until 2019.  As much as I hate to see such a big and crowd-pleasing part of the museum close for such a long time, this area is in desperate need of a makeover.

This is not the dinosaur exhibit that I remember from childhood, but one that was opened in 1981.  As much of an improvement as this doubtless is over what was there before (my memories are a bit dim, since we're talking some 40 years ago), compared to the museum's newer areas (the Sant Ocean Hall, the Hall of Mammals, the exhibit on human origins), this is dull in the extreme.

The colors are drab, the notes are dense paragraphs of hard-to-follow text and the displays are row upon row of fossils.  What should be a fascinating display of the earliest forms of life on earth are just, well, boring.  The wonderful text notes are the things I miss most - the easy to read and understand explanations in some of the newer areas are not here, and they make a huge difference.

Even the dinosaurs, which are anything but dull, are jammed together in a tight space - I'm hoping the redo will allow the museum to spread these out, so you can see each specimen on its own.  The money for the refurbishment is coming from the Koch brothers, who bankrolled the dinosaur display at the Museum of Natural History in New York.  I've heard that  exhibit is excellent, so I've got high hopes for what the end of the decade will bring us.

Verdict: Go to see this area of the museum (there are five different sections covering fossils generally and dinosaurs specifically) before it closes.  Then you can wait patiently for the new display!

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