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Tyrant King returns

June 13, 2008 - Summer Wallace-Minger
Sometimes, my kids and I get to do cool stuff because of my job, and I don't like to blog about it, because it feels too much like bragging.

However, this was super cool, and I don't really have any good blogging material, like a fight with the husband (I bought a new c-clamp, but it was the bolt cutters which finally fixed whatever mechanical doodad was messing up the whatchamacallit).

So, in advance: Totally not bragging, okay? Seriously, I'm all paranoid someone is going to think that I am.

We got an advance peek at the "Dinosaurs in Their Time" second phase -- featuring two T. rex battling over a kill -- and it was awesome.

My son, the big dinosaur fan, was thrilled to death, and he was hard pressed not to dance through the exhibit, which I am told, is the result of approximately two and a half years of work and the efforts of hundreds of artists, scientists and contractors.

(The behaving may have been a result of me praying all the way into the city that neither child would do anything to horrendously embarass me in front of someone with whom I need to have a working relationship.)

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History staff is exhibiting a ton of interesting dinosaurs for this phase, including a mounted triceratops and an unnamed oviraptor.

The museum has had a fossil skull of the triceratops, but recently acquired a cast skeleton, allowing them to showcase it as a whole for the very first time. I did not know this -- by the time the dino-loving baby started his obsession with all things fossilized, they had already started reconstruction.

Honestly, this kid's favorite book is an encylopedia on dinosaurs. He wants to be a palentologist, and he's only six. He can talk dinosaurs for ages, though, and he can rattle off their proper names while I'm still trying to figure out how you pronounce Pack-y-seth-whatty?!

Dr. Matt Lamanna (who seems to have a very enthusastic fanbase among the Pittsburgh-area blogging community, but whom I have not had the pleasure of meeting) was part of the team of scientists who discovered the oviraptor, and will help name it. I found that very cool, and my daughter wants everyone to know that oviraptors have eye sockets and hips like a bird. I find the round bone in their eye socket to be creepy, because it looks like they are looking at you.

In addition to all the cool dinosaurs, there also is a pterosaur (technically not a dinosaur, but a lizard capable of flight which co-existed with the "thunder lizards"), the Quetzalcotlus. It has a wing span of nearly 40 feet and is hovering over the T. rex like a modern day buzzard. My son wanted to know if it was going to swoop down and interrupt T. Rex's lunch.

The exhibit opens at 8 a.m. Sunday, and the museum will stay open until 8 p.m. to accommodate the crowds expected. Don't worry about getting advance tickets -- staff members are saying they will not be neccessary.

Other cool stuff to check out at the CMNH while you are there (especially if you are accompanied by small children): Bone Hunter's Quarry, the Egyptian room, Polar World and the Discovery Room. We go four or five times a year, and those are always our top things to hit up.

Admission to the CMNH also gets you into the Carnegie Museum of Art (in the same building), and they have a great program for kids which teaches them about art and allows them to create their own on weekends -- usually between noon and 4 p.m. -- called "ARTventures."

It's great for kids, and they have teen volunteers talking to them briefly about art and the kids get to try their own art projects, which have a tie-in with one of the museum's exhibits. It's free with admission, and my kids always have a lot of fun doing it.

The CMOA also has their International going on, "Life on Mars." My daughter was juiced to see it, and they particularly liked "Cavemanman," but I'm not sure if it's because they understood the symbolism or because they liked running through the installation in their stocking feet.

My daughter also was entranced by Mario Merz' use of the Fibonacci series in conjunction with a series of photographs of people in a dining room. Each photo has a neon number sign above -- 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 and ectera -- and a like number of people in the photo below. She was very proud of herself when she figured out the connection. She gets more awesome every day.

Now, my kids are getting modern art a little more. I don't hate it, but I don't understand it all either. Some of it I get, and some of it I find interesting, but by no means do I understand even half of it.

I've learned to ask the kids what they think about a piece, instead of telling them what I think. Their suppositions are much more interesting than mine.

If you plan on taking the kids, they have a nice little luncheonette in the basement, called "Fossil Fuels" -- we always go there -- and, if you're looking for something a bit more upscale, you can grab lunch at the "Carnegie Cafe" and watch the fountain. Also, South Craig Street is just across from the museums, and they have a ton of places to eat there as well, all within an easy block of the museum.

Ellen James, public relations and communications manager, said to me a trip to the museum makes a nice day trip, and I've got to agree with her.

It's great for kids, and it doesn't take that much gas.


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Blog Photos

An unlucky Edmontosaurus makes a tasty snack, but which one of these Tyrannosaurus Rex is going to chow down? "They don't give you those teeth for picking daisies," said Ellen James, Carnegie Museum of Natural History public relations and communications manager. We also talked about the irony of this life-and-death battle taking place in a field of buttercups and poppies.


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