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New Natural History Museum in New Mexico



Small, local museums often lack the polish of the big guys, but offer a
unique experience by reflecting that very "localness".  The newly opened
Mesalands Dinosaur Museum in Tucumcari, New Mexico, has both refinement
and abundant local flavor.   This is a serious museum, a division of
Mesa Technical College, and a true grassroots effort on the part of the
people of the Tucumcari area.  Eastern New Mexico has plentiful Triassic
fossils, and those are the emphasis of Mesaland's 10,000 square feet of
exhibits. A good blend of well displayed, real fossils and casts lead
visitors through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous, with a small
section on the Cenozoic as well.  The collections and exhibits are
curated by Dr. Adrian Hunt, formerly Curator of Paleontology at the
University of Colorado, Denver.  The Museum also has lab and classroom
space for ongoing field and lab classes in paleontology and geology.

Features include: skeletons and reconstructions of  exotic Triassic
archosaurs and early dinosaurs; a window into the prep lab with
volunteer preparators; a children's section with engaging hands-on
exhibits including a dig; the only mounted Torvosaurus skeleton on
public display anywhere; an unusual (unique?) and terrific exhibit on
coprolites; and last but not least, bronze dinosaurs.  That's right,
bronze.  Not just teeny models, but full size skeletons cast from
original fossils by the foundry at Mesa Tech, under Dr. Hunt's
supervision. Because of their durability, many of the bronzes can be
touched.

Mesaland's gift shop carries a large selection of souvenirs,  toys and
books, including some more technical, scholarly books.  It's the only
museum gift store I have ever seen that sells rock hammers, chisels, and
field notebooks.  And, oh yeah, teeny bronze dinosaurs.

You can disregard all the above if you want to (after all, I have been
involved with the design and production of Mesaland's exhibits, pro
bono, for several years) but I think Mesalands Dinosaur Museum is just
too cool and everybody ought to see it!  For more information, call
(505) 461-DINO (3466).

Judy Lundquist