Better Know a Museum: Los Angeles Part 3

Hey there every peoples!

Time for part three of my of the first part of my new series Better Know a Musem! This week we look at what might be the most popular exhibit at the museum: The dinosaur hall! Except there is really no hall to speak off. It was closed a couple years ago so that it may be reborn in a new part of the museum.

None too soon I would say. The old dinosaur hall wasn’t that much better than the old Cenozoic hall. There were a few mounts that were in life like poses, but most of them were just sitting there. The halls were mostly dark and not much information was to be found. There were few fossils on display in cases. Really the only thing the hall had going for it was the various skeletons on display, from the small Dimetrodon to the gargantuan Mamenchisaurus. However Mamenchisaurus, the centerpiece of the the old hall, had problems: it had the wrong skull. It’s skull looked much more like that of a diplodocid rather than a euhelopid. While the biggest dipslay of dinosaurs on the west coast, it was in dire need of an overhaul.

So in 2008 the dinosaur hall was closed for good. For the museum’s centenial a new dinosaur hall, consisting of two halls (where the Latin America and Native american halls used to be), was to be built. This new hall would be brightly lit with natural light like the Age of Mammals hall. The hall would look like a museum for the 21st century. It will be called Dinosaur Mysteries and will open summer next year. Such specimens to be included in the hall are the plesiosaur Morenosaurus, a partial Triceratops from Montana, a new Corythosaurus mount, a T. rex growth series, and Mamenchisaurus (but with a new skull). Here is a rendering of what one of the halls may look like:

The dinosaur halls reborn!

But while these epic halls are a year away, the museum has created a couple smaller displays to sate the public’s hunger for dinosaurs. First is a small platform in the upstairs North American Mammal hall containing a skeleton and two skulls. Very basic and generic as far as materials go; they have a T. rex skull and a Triceratops skull accompanied by the skeleton of Carnotaurus (only museum I have been to that features this animal). This small display is actually much better, in my opinion, than the whole of the old halls. The Carntotaurus skeleton seems to change modes depending on the angle you are looking at him. If you are looking at him from the front, it looks like he is either chasing after prey or moving in for the kill. If viewed from behind, he looks like he is stalking his prey. The wood railings and rock floor really add some nice naturalistic feel to the display and the lighting is dramatic and moody. See for yourself:

The temporary display of Mesozoic beasts in the North American mammal hall

The other dinosaur display is a thoroughly modern preparation lab:

The Los Angeles Museum's dino lab

This lab was created in 2008 to prep the museum’s teenage T. rex Thomas. Thomas is going to be one of the specimens in the upcoming T. rex growth series. Thomas was 13 when he died and was already a hefty 8,000 pounds and ten feet tall at the hips. But as time went by and significant progress was made on Thomas, the lab has been used to prep other specimens for the new halls and the museum’s collection. Lots of stuff going on in there. Here are some specimens:

What appears to be a hadrosaur sacrum

A block of red sandstone containing the jumbled remains of Coelophysis

A skeletal sketch of some unkown theropod. If anyone can tell me what it is, you get a gold star!

So while the old dinosaur halls left much to be desired, the new halls look to fulfill the museums wish of becoming a dinosaur hub for the West Coast (even if I can get my museum built, they will be able to keep that title at the rate they are going). The temporary displays knock the socks off the old halls and effectively keep the public’s hunger for dinosaurs in check. When the halls are finally finished next year, expect a report and review from me!

Till next time!

2 thoughts on “Better Know a Museum: Los Angeles Part 3

  1. I get what you’re saying about the old one, but when I was a kid and saw it I didn’t give a damn. I was just enthralled by seeing the dinosaurs. That being said, the part I’m lookin forward to the most is the T. rex growth series. In addition to Thomas, the museum has some other specimens it could use, namely LACM 28471 and LACM 23845. Speaking of which, that unknown theropod looks like a juvenile T. rex to me.

    • well yeah i didn’t give a damn either when i was a little kid. But if kids were impressed by the shabby old hall, then imagine their reactions when the new one opens!

      Yeah, i know they have a 60 pound 2-year-old they plan to incorporate into it and i think something between that and Thomas. And i’m not so sure it’s a juvenile T.rex in the sketch. Skull has some features that suggest otherwise to me (namely that cone shaped structure on the back of the head).

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