Dinosaurs take over OMSI
Will it be third time's the charm for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry?
Not unlike what has happened with other museums and public attractions, OMSI opened two exhibits in the past year and had to shut down each of them because of the COVID-19 pandemic and government restrictions — "Body Worlds" lasted a week, and then a while more after reopening, and "Genghis Khan" only two weeks.
Now, the museum is planning "Dinosaurs Revealed," March 20 through Sept. 6. It's a big, new exhibit with 26 animatronic dinosaurs, skeletons and fossils, and you can time-travel in the form of designated environments and presentations for the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
So, stay away COVID-19! The dinosaurs already were killed off once, don't do it again!
"We were talking as a team, that if we get past three weeks, we're going to be so excited," said Jennifer Powers, OMSI's Featured Hall assistant manager. "'We were able to open 'Body Worlds' in June through October (after shutting down in March); 'Genghis Khan' we hardly got to open it, although we were able to give virtual tours. We just had to move forward with our schedule."
Suffice to say, OMSI had plenty of time to prepare for "Dinosaurs Revealed," an exhibit produced by Union Station Kansas City. And it's the display's Pacific Northwest debut.
What makes it unique is that it focuses only on North American dinosaurs. Fossils have been discovered from coast to coast, but most have been in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and the Plains states and in the Canadian provinces to the north.
"Even as science refines what we know about dinosaurs, there is so much more yet to discover, which is what makes this such a terrific exhibit. It has something for everyone," said Erin Graham, OMSI president and CEO. She said it addresses climate change "in a tangible, accessible way. It's fascinating to see how changes in the Earth's climate over the millennia directly impacted plants, animals and dinosaurs."
The lifelike, life-size animatronic dinosaurs have skin, feathers and teeth. There also are dozens of fossils in the exhibit and two full, body-cast skeletons. The exhibit covers 13,000 square feet over two floors at OMSI, 1945 S.E. Water Ave.
"We had to fit as much as we could in there. It's action-packed, for sure," Powers said, "and it's a very environmental experience. This exhibit is something where you're going to walk inside and be transported into a different world. You'll travel through the Mesozoic era (from 66-252 million years ago), and you can really see the environment change."
Triassic was a warmer and drier period, followed by Jurassic (more jungle-esque) and Cretaceous (milder, subtropical).
"Continents were changing, too," Powers said.
The exhibit also tells of current paleontological sites: Triassic in the Colorado plateau, and Utah/Nevada/Arizona; Jurassic in the Morrison Formation of the western United States, from New Mexico to Montana to the Canadian provinces; Cretaceous in the Hell Creek Formation of the western U.S. including North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
"It's great for folks who want to get into paleontology," Powers said.
And, "because it's an exhibit combining animatronics, casts and real fossils, there will be interest across age groups and backgrounds. Because it is North American dinosaurs, visitors from those regions will be able to make some personal connections. 'That's what our region used to look like.'"
Everybody at OMSI, which has reopened, knows that people really want to return to public attractions with health and safety protocols in place, of course.
"Science is more important than ever, even if it's through limited exhibits, limited hours, limited capacity," Powers said. "We're so excited to have visitors back. Dinosaurs are so fun and universally liked."
It's a good exhibit to reopen with, and hopefully OMSI can remain open moving forward.
OMSI currently is open Tuesdays-Sundays and closed Mondays. It'll be open seven days a week during the Oregon spring break, starting Saturday, March 20, and the museum also will observe California and Washington spring breaks (remaining open two other Mondays, March 29 and April 5). It'll be open daily during the summer, starting June 12.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.omsi.edu, by phone (503-797-4000) or at the museum. It's strongly advised that visitors purchase tickets online, as OMSI only is allowing 25% capacity. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for youth ages 3-13, and $8 for seniors 63 and older.
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