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Re: museum (Parks' visits)

On Mon, 11 Aug 1997 20:47:56 -0600 Sue Blakey <ellensb@trib.com> writes:
>It's interesting: here, at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center, a museum that
>dino fossil skeletons and skeletal casts, trace fossils and other
>material, we often get exit cards from kids that ask us why we don't get
>some of the "real stuff" (by which they usually mean animated dino art
>reconstructions) instead of this fake stuff. It's sometimes discouraging
>when we've invested in real science to see the real science being put
>because of ignorance and misinformation. 
        Here in Mesa, AZ, we have the Great Dinosaur Extinction
Exhibition - several complete skeletons, lots of skulls, shark
teeth/jaws, ammonites, sculptures, art from Dinotopia, and I've been
doing some volunteering on weekends. 
        One nice older lady enjoyed the "show", but commented to me that
she'd like to see the "real" dinosaurs - the ones that move and make
noise. She said "They used to be BIGGER!" I don't understand this - the
animated dinosaurs are usually 3/4- to full- size and we have a "real"
(cast) 40' long Acrocanthosaur skeleton - talk about BIG!

>Still, we continue on, knowing that we can't win over or educate
>but we will win over a few, and maybe one of those will be out there
>discovering something important in the decade to come.
          I love to walk through the gallery and talk to visitors -
enlightening them as much as possible. The worst part is teenagers (and
adults) who know all about dinosaurs because "it was in the movie", but
sometimes you can even win them over - if you give them "the real scoop"
as insider information. Who doesn't like to be let in on a "secret"?
         We have done dinosaur exhibits (including the current one)
riding on the interest generated by the movies, but without any logos or
merchandise in sight. Our dinosaur exhibitions are the most well-attended
events here.
          Yes, the movie tie-ins do bring people into the museum, but I
have to agree with Larry to a certain extent - it is not right to display
"movie truth" and expect the docents and volunteers to correct it. What
does it do to the credibility of the museum or of the docents when they
are contradicting each other about an exhibit presented at the museum? It
certainly makes more work for the docents and volunteers, as well. 
          Look at it from a visitor's point of view. They see the
spitting dilophosaur or the artificially large stegosaur in a MUSEUM (an
institution of SCIENCE and TRUTH) and then the docent says "from skeletal
studies, we know stegosaurus was actually only this size" or "there is no
evidence that dilophosaurus could spit or that it had poison glands".
Your docents are saying that the museum is knowingly presenting
"questionable" information - even with the disclaimer that the incorrect
characters were "enhancements" for the movie. 
           I could agree with a contrast and compare type exhibit, where
reality was presented side by side with the movie version, so the public
could readily see the difference. A young friend of mine said something a
couple of nights ago - "If I SEE it, I'm going to believe it - people can
TELL you anything and that doesn't make it true."
          Having said this, I enjoy the animated dinosaurs, (they could
do without the sound effects, though) sometimes observing colors and
reconstructions with a skeptical eye. However, I am also able to use my
imagination (something the general public doesn't seem to use often) to
flesh out and animate the "plain, old" skeletons and bring them to life. 
Deb Boaz

>Sue Blakey, Wyo Dino Center and Big Horn Basin Foundation
>P.S. Do the earth sciences a favor -- promote October as National 
>Ellen Sue Blakey
>phone: 307/864-3391            fax: 307/864-3882
>email: ellensb@trib.com
>snailmail: Rt. 3 Box 209, Thermopolis, Wyoming 82443 USA