The Dinosaurs of China

Review

of an Exhibition

by Andrea Bandelli

Published on July 25, 2007

  • Description:

    The exhibition “Dinosaurs of China” was developed by the Miami Science Museum in collaboration with the Beijing Museum of Natural History. It opened in Miami in June 2007, and it displays 14 dinosaurs skeletons plus a number of specimens from 4 regions of China.
    This exhibition combines in very elegant and thoughtful way the spectacular appeal of the big skeletons with their importance to understand the evolution of life on Earth. Throughout the exhibition, well designed elements illustrate not only the characteristics of the dinosaurs, but also the research going on and the people studying them.
    Text is minimal but extremely efficient: four wall-mounted panels describe the four regions where the specimens come from, big labels with basic information identify each skeleton, and all the smaller specimens have more in-depth descriptions that clearly show how scientists come to understand life on Earth millions of years ago through the study of fossils.
    The exhibition has also a very distinctive flavor that constantly remind us of where all the specimens come from. In addition to the subtle “Chinese look” of the overall design, there are also references to the Chinese tradition that saw dinosaurs as big dragons. Walking through the exhibition one cannot but appreciate the big skeletons also for their intrinsic beauty.
    The pathways between the items on display are wide, accommodating all kinds of groups and visitors; one has the feeling of really walking “in between” the dinosaurs, since the fences around them are low but very solid.
    One activity I loved watching – and the kids love doing – is a series of footprints on the floor that show how dinosaurs walked, compared to how a crocodile walks. Kids can walk in the animals’ footprints, and experience how dinosaurs could walk faster and easier than reptiles. This is a good example of linking dinosaurs with something which is common and well known for most of the visitors to the exhibition and easy to relate to.
    Compared to other dinosaurs exhibition I’ve seen, this one really stands out. First of all because it is “real”: no animatronics, models, or reconstructions. It shows that with real objects and real science museums can do great exhibitions that visitors of all ages enjoy. Further, I liked the focus of it: without pretending to tell everything about dinosaurs, the exhibition tells very well the story of the dinosaurs in China, why they are important and what we can learn from them. And finally it is really aesthetically beautiful and pleasant, which to me is a sign of passion and respect that every museum should have for their audiences.

Latest Comments (2)

A serene Dino exhibit!

by Claire Pillsbury - July 26, 2007

From what the photos show, the look and feel is lovely, like walking through a botanical garden. Nice to see dinosaurs as natural wonders rather than semi-animated roaring monsters.
PS. One technical challenge, I would like to view the MP4 files but it isn’t clear how to download them into a quicktime player. Any tips?

MP4 files

by Jim Spadaccini - July 26, 2007

Claire,
You might want to try right-clicking and then selecting “Save link as…” from the contextual menu.

Later this year (hopefully) we’ll add the ability to convert these sort of uploads to Flash video format. That should certain make things easier.

Jim

Log in to post a response.