Dinosaurs Among Us
The past two years saw major advancements in comparative biology. With the link between dinosaurs and birds becoming practically obsolete, we wanted to share our findings with the public. The show is rich with specimens from the Museum’s collection - most of them never seen before. These objects, juxtaposed with our large, detailed models of dinosaurs, displays one of the best-documented evolutionary transitions in Earth’s history and allows visitors to compare the evidence themselves.
UNIQUE PROPERTIES / PROJECT DESCRIPTION:
Dinosaurs Among Us reveals that dinosaurs are not so extinct after all. Recent research shows that dinosaurs’ evolutionary legacy lives on in birds. We seek to put a fresh twist on the ancient topic on dinosaurs with new research linking dinosaurs to birds. The exhibition has bold colors, quirky quadrilateral shapes and plentiful interactives that contrast against the realistic Dinosauria models and authentic fossils to create a striking, thought-provoking environment.
OPERATION / FLOW / INTERACTION:
Upon entering the exhibition, visitors are introduced to this revolutionary discovery of dinosaurs’ living descendants by a short video. The large central catwalk, which divides the main space in half, hosts many dinosaur models. Stemming from the catwalk, brightly colored linear shapes extend to sections along the walls, which go in depth about an aspect of the narrative, such as “Nests and Babies." These sections’ labels and background panel matches the color stemming from the catwalk to tie the section to its label. The design inspiration for the organization of the exhibition came from the dinosaurs and bird themselves. We wanted the dinos to be the focus of the show, so we placed them on a catwalk as if they were walking the runway. The color scheme, derived from bird feathers, is bold and prominent and denotes cohesion between each creature and its unique narrative.
PROJECT DURATION AND LOCATION:
The project was conceived and began in New York, New York beginning in October 2014. Production finished and the exhibit opened in March 2016. Dinosaurs Among Us will close in January 2017 and then leave the American Museum of Natural History as a traveling exhibition.
PRODUCTION / REALIZATION TECHNOLOGY:
The large, quadrilateral panels through out the exhibition were made with foam core and digitally printed fabric. Nearly everything, including the climbable nest and the catwalk, was fabricated in house. The dinosaur models were created with metal frames, cast molds, fiberglass, and paper maché. The dinosaurs’ feathers, an important scientific discovery, were purchased quills that were then painted.
SPECIFICATIONS / TECHNICAL PROPERTIES:
Dinosaurs Among Us is housed in a 6,500 square foot gallery space with 16 foot ceilings. The exhibition can be easily altered in order to travel to other spaces.
Natural History, American Museum of Natural History, Science, Paleontology, Exhibition, Museum, Dinosaurs Among Us, Birds, Evolution, Fossils, Dinosaurs, Extinction
The dinosaur is the American Museum of Natural History’s sweet spot. We brought forth a cutting-edge twist on the subject since the Museum is uniquely positioned to answer the why’s and how’s of the transition of dinosaurs to birds. The Museum’s researchers have made advances in the field. We used our own research, studied scientific information, public spaces, and visitor surveys to determine factual content, design inspiration, and public interest for the exhibition. Visitor response to an exhibition on dinosaurs always receives a strong response. This gave the education, business, and media relations departments high confidence in our plans.
Narrating the tale of evolution between dinosaurs and birds, who have millions of years of history, and to arrange it into a clear, cohesive story was a challenge. The organizing element had yet to be found, and then we experimented with color as the guiding element. The colors would tie together the model of the catwalk with its respective section. The color organization consisted of bold-colored strips on the floor leading from the model to its section. The sections’ labels and background panel match the floor strips to denote similar content. Once it was decided that color organized the exhibition very well, the development process became easier and more productive.
TEAM MEMBERS (15) :
Sr. VP, Exhibitions: David Harvey, Managing Sr. Dir.: Melissa Posen, Dir. Design, Exhibition Dept.: Michael Meister, Exhibit Designer: Cine Ostrow, Lighting Designer: David Clinard, Dir. Graphic Design: Catherine Weese, Dir. Media: Helene Alonso, Dir. Prod.: Dean Markosian, Sr. Dir. Editorial: Lauri Haulderman, Exhibition Fabricator: Heartland Scenic Studios, Graphics Prod.: Color Edge, AMNH Fabrication Team, AMNH Media Design Team, AMNH Graphics Design Team and AMNH Editorial Team
Image #1: Photographer Denis Finnin/Rod Mickens, 2015
Image #2: Photographer Denis Finnin/Rod Mickens, 2015
Image #3: Photographer Denis Finnin/Rod Mickens, 2015
Image #4: Photographer Denis Finnin/Rod Mickens, 2015
Image #5: Photographer Denis Finnin/Rod Mickens, 2015
Copyrights of text and images belong to the American Museum of Natural History, 2015.