T-Rex: The Ultimate Predator

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Review

of an Exhibit

by Hae Oh

Published on June 18, 2019

  • Museum: American Natural History Museum (AMMH) in New York

  • Visit Date: June, 2019

  • Description:

    T-Rex: The Ultimate Predator at American Natural History Museum (AMMH) in New York

    Do museums think of their releases in cycles? The release of this exhibition was timed around spring break through the summer season. In thinking of timing, it is the “Marvel” movie of the season that family visitors can count on and AMNH is delivering. The age old topic of “T-Rex” dinosaur is timeless, and this is a 4,500 sq. feet exhibition dedicated to a deeper dive into this single fascinating dinosaur. We already know T-Rex is a predator, that it lived in the mesozoic era, and it is one of the most ferociously iconic dinosaurs. At any given time, there are several exhibitions that travel throughout the nation and world about this dinosaur. They are filled with animatronics, purchased fossils and dinosaur replicas, but I prefer a story framed from an authentic place of research and science.

    Dinosaurs are a subject area that natural history museums claim strongly, especially those with paleontological research departments such as AMNH. Only a museum with this kind of department can help tell the story the 100 million year old history in the most authentic way. This exhibition is where you can have real paleontological specimens and reference replicas from discoveries as early as 1905 from AMNH’s own fossil hunter Barnum Brown.

    There is also a place for new discoveries and new technology, such as touchable specimen replicas, VR stations, 30 foot interactive wall with a Cretaceous forest, articulated sculptures and a shadow puppetry battle between the T-Rex fossil and its victim. It also displays the growth series of T-Rex families as an important feature, with supported videos online to show details by the curator of the science behind the sculptural models.

    This is an open space plan with futuristic “lab” features geared towards a contemporary family audience. There are many “specimens” but the casts and real specimens have few distinguishing and legible text identifications. I asked a staffer whether people care what is a specimen “real” or not, but they said that is the most common question asked. There were several children particularly mesmerized by the interactive wall and the parents watch quietly behind them.

    Admittedly, I am just as fascinated about the fact that our publics are consistently enthralled by both dinosaurs and The T-Rex.

Latest Comments (1)

overall experience?

by Kathleen Mclean - June 21, 2019

I am trying to figure out if you think this exhibition was well done, or just another in the long line of T rex exhibitions. I appreciate your overview of the “positioning” of the exhibition during this time period, and your understanding that AMNH is a leader in the field of research. But did they really deliver for you?What exhibit components were most successful, and what stayed with you? You have a great perspective given your work in natural history museums.

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