A new breed of dinosaur has taken up residence at the Cincinnati Museum Center on its first stop in North America.
“Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants from Gondwana” features real fossils and 20 full-scale skeletal casts, many of which have never been seen before in the United States. The exhibition takes up 15,000 square feet of museum space.
The fascination with dinosaurs seems to be ever-present.
“I think it’s safe to say at some point in our lives, we’re all been fascinated by dinosaurs,” said Dave Duszynski, vice president of featured experiences for the museum when he introduced the exhibit at the press opening. ” I think they are fascinating because of their size and because they no longer exist. And they don’t look like anything else that exists.”
The dinosaurs that have come to Cincinnati, he said, are different from those that most of us have grown up knowing because they evolved in isolation in South America, Africa and Madagascar.
“Their names are not familiar because they’ve been uncovered in the past 20 years,” he explained. “Some of them will look somewhat familiar.”
AR Technology introduced
Part of the fun is the amazing technology: This is the first time the museum has used Augmented Reality (AR) for an exhibit — layering virtual or computer-generated animation over real environments.
You can, for instance, focus an iPad that’s on a movable stand on a specific part of a giant skeleton and that dinosaur will be fleshed out so you can see how that creature looked when the dinosaur was alive and covered in skin.
“We have a free app that you can download from the iTunes store that will bring the dinosaurs to life at the exhibit as well as in our advertising and around town,” explained Casey Kroger, marketing manager for the museum. ” If you take your device and hover it over markers on the floor of the exhibit, the dinosaurs will pop out of that marker.”
Thanks to technology, you’ll also learn how to pronounce the name of each dinosaur, and view it in comparison to something familiar — a skateboard, a minivan. On huge screens, you’ll see the dinosaurs as they move around in their natural habitat and in one huge computer animation game, you’ll get the chance to bring the world back together when it has been divided.
Approach some of these dinosaurs and they’ll move to match your movements, thanks to xbox motion tracking sensors.
There’s lots of interactive activities — flip a series of cards, for example, and you’ll see the growth of a particular dinosaur as compared to a human being’s growth.
Along with the exhibit, the museum is premiering a new Omnimax film entitled “Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia.”
“We like to say that some of these dinosaursare too big for the exhibit and can only be seen on this five-story screen,” says Kroger. “It shows these dinosaurs in action.”
Cinci and fossils
You may not realize that the Cincinnati museum has one of the largest fossil collections in the Midwest and sends paleontologists throughout the world in search of everything from trilobites to dinosaurs.
This exhibit gives the museum an opportunity to highlight the role paleontology has played in the Queen City.
“Among scientists, Cincinnati is known as a world-class area for finding fossils and has a long history of quality research at both the museum and the University of Cincinnati,” said Glenn Storrs the museum’s curator of vertebrate paleontology. “They come from around the world to study fossils in our collection and in recent years there have been a lot of dinosaur excavations and research in the field. Dinosaurs are not just for kids anymore.”
Storrs says there are all sorts of things you can learn from dinosaurs because they are long-lived and a diverse group of organisms.
“It has been confirmed that birds are living dinosaurs,” he said. ” They share over 150 unique evolutionary advanced characters.”
Storrs said the new exhibit unveils specimens that most of us have never before seen. The goal of exhibits like this one, he explained, is to create lifelong learning experiences and budding scientists. He says what it’s really all about is getting your kids interested in science.
The show is recommended for children ages 4 and up. Kids can pick up a passport and stamp an imprint of each dinosaur as they make their way through the exhibit.
This exhibit, which comes from the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, tells how continental drift affected the evolution of dinosaurs on Earth during the Mesozoic Era — 65 million years ago. When dinosaurs first appeared 250 million years ago, the continents of the Earth were assembled into the giant supercontinent, Pangaea.
As Pangaea divided — first into Laurasia in the north and Gondwana in the south and later into many continents— dinosaurs evolved on each of the separate lands.
You’ll meet a lot of these creatures in Cincinnati including:
* Giganotosauris, possibly the largest land predator ever to have lived.
* Suchomimus, a crocodile-faced dinosaur.
* Suchomimus, a horned meat eater.
* Jiganotowsaurus, a bigger badder cousin to T-Rex.
Shop stocked with dinos
It’s no surprise that dinosaurs are always a top seller at museum stores, according to the Cincinnati museum’s director of retail Barb Witschger.
For the exhibit, she’s stocked up on dinos of all sizes and shapes. You’ll see items ranging from pencils at 50 cents to fine cast replicas for $350-$400. There are toddler games and puzzles, videos and books for every age group, excavation kits where kids can dig for dinosaur bones or place the organs inside the dinos as you build their skeletons.
Some of the more unusual items are dino sandals and shoes — when the child walks, the dinosaur footprints are left on the ground.
Dinos with a twist
Coordinator of the exhibit is Ed Lamb, who says he was a dino buff from a young age.
“This exhibit gives us a chance to rediscover dinosaurs but in a way that’s new to everyone,” he concludes. “These dinosaurs are similar to those we’ve grown up with in many ways, but there are subtle differences. The Southern dinosaurs, for example, are more ornate. Some have the same shape but different add-ons.”
Brittany Brown of Centerville is coordinator of Special Programs at the museum and says the overall experience has been “high-spirited and fun” for both the guests and the staff. She enjoys working with the exhibit, she says, because there is something for every age and a large portion of the show is interactive.
” I am particularly interested in this exhibit because so many of the specimens were discovered recently within the last 30 years,” Brown adds. ” It is exciting to share with guests knowing that we may be inspiring the next great paleontologist!”
How To Go:
What: “Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants from Gondwana”
Where: Cincinnati Museum Center, 1301 Western Ave., Cincinnati
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Admission: $15 for adults, $11 for children ages 3-12, and $13 for seniors 60 and older. Museum Center members pay a discounted price once ($9 adult member, $7 adult child) and can return to the exhibit free of charge.
For information: www.cincymuseum.org/dinosaurs. The exhibit will remain in Cincinnati through the fall, no end date has been determined.
Worth the Drive
Dayton Daily News arts and entertainment reporter Meredith Moss has been discovering and sharing special evenings and interesting day trips with newspaper readers for more than three decades.
In Worth The Drive, Meredith visits destinations across the region to give you an inside look at what to expect so you can make sure your time and money are well spent.
For today’s “Worth the Drive” Meredith traveled to Cincinnati to check out the dinosaur exhibit that’s the first of its kind in the nation.
If you have suggestions for places we should visit, please send them to Meredith: MMoss@coxohio.com Please leave a daytime phone number.
Behind-the-scenes: Get a look inside the making of this exhibit at