The aim of the new Dinosaur Hall is to bring paleontology alive! We do this by exploring the questions, or mysteries, that have driven centuries of scientific inquiry about dinosaurs. These happen to be the same questions that are probably in the minds of your children!
Where do these creatures come from? What were they like as living animals? What happened to them? How do scientist know what they know?
To reveal how scientists puzzle out answers to these questions — and to show that we all have the tools of observation — the exhibition invites our visitors to use all their senses and observation skills. They can look at and touch specimens. They can "excavate" on interactive touchscreen stations. They can watch films to see what it's really like in the field.
This is possible because of all the specimens and footage of our scientists in action. The specimen-rich exhibition relies on the discovery and research programs of the NHM’s in-house Dinosaur Institute, led by world-renowned paleontologist and exhibit lead curator, Dr. Luis Chiappe.
The new hall is designed to allow visitors to wander around and in some instances, underneath, the specimens. Because of their innovative platforms, many of the major mounts are not surrounded by thick glass — providing rare opportunities for up-close looks at the fossils.
This is a key to the exhibition’s visitor experience, as many of these fossils were prepared and articulated in recent years, using modern paleontological methods that forgo the thick layers of shellac used by fossil preparers of decades past. Never-before-seen details of the fossils are therefore revealed. Some have rich red and green hues, colored by the minerals in the lands they were found. Some contain visible internal organs, skin textures, and in one instance, the stomach contents of a last meal!
“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.”