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Just How Do You Make Dinosphere Bigger?

On March 8, 2021, we did the unthinkable. We closed Dinosphere: Now Your’e in Their World®—our most popular exhibit—for more than a year. This wasn’t a surprise. And it certainly wasn’t an extinction-level event. This was a planned closure. While closing Dinosphere® might have caused some heartburn and maybe even a few sleepless nights for many, the proverbial light is at the end of the tunnel. And what’s shining that light? Some massive creatures surrounded by beautiful, immersive environments in a major expansion to the Dinosphere® that you’ve already come to know and love, created in a way that only The Children’s Museum can.

Before we celebrate the March 19, 2022, opening of the new Dinosphere® and its four areas—Giants of the Jurassic™, Creatures of the Cretaceous™, Monsters of the Mesozoic Seas™, and the Dinosphere Art Lab—we thought we’d take a look back on what has brought us to this exciting moment.

Timeline for the new Dinosphere®

March 2019—a BIG announcement

Children posing near a giant dinosaur femur at the announcement of Mission Jurassic with The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

We announced Mission Jurassic—an exciting new partnership with institutions around the world, led by The Children’s Museum created to explore and excavate the fossil-rich site in Wyoming known as the Jurassic Mile™. This site is a treasure trove of Jurassic fossils—bones, trackways, and preserved plant life from millions of years ago—that reveal never-before-told stories about the Jurassic Period.

Summer 2019—Mission Jurassic begins

Scientists placing a fossil in a field jacket at the Jurassic Mile dig site in Wyoming.

An international team of scientists joined staff from The Children’s Museum at the Jurassic Mile™ dig site in Wyoming. Tons of fossilized material were brought to The Children’s Museum for prep, documentation, and storage.

Sept. 2019—R.B. Annis Mission Jurassic Paleo Prep Lab opens

A large field jacket that contains a sauropod bone is sitting on one of the new tables in the expanded paleo lab. Dr. Jenn Anné and Taylor are using tools to remove the field jacket.

The sauropods from the Jurassic Period are larger than any of the Cretaceous critters that our scientists had worked on in the Polly H. Hix Paleo Prep Lab. Bigger bones meant we needed bigger equipment. And more room. So we built a new prep lab for our scientists to work on the massive bones they dug up in Wyoming. Now they work in both labs!

Summer 2020—our scientists return to the Jurassic Mile

Quote with a photo of Prof. Phil Manning at the Jurassic Mile in Wyoming. “There’s enough dinosaur material here to keep a thousand paleontologists happy for a thousand years.”

The Jurassic Mile™ is a treasure trove of fossils. Extraordinary Scientist-in-Residence Professor Phil Manning and Mission Jurassic Lead Scientist has described it this way: “There’s enough dinosaur material here to keep a thousand paleontologists happy for a thousand years.”

The two giant four-legged, long-necked sauropods that will be on display in Giants of the Jurassic were dug up by our scientists at the Jurassic Mile dig site. While in the field, these two specimens were referred to as Lower Sauropod and Upper Sauropod, based on their location in the dig site. Tons of fossils were brought to The Children’s Museum for preparation—including Lower Sauropod. The Baptanodon and a significant portion of Upper Sauropod were sent to Research Casting International (RCI) for prep and mounting. RCI also gave our Plioplatecarpus a good cleaning.

March 2021–we met SUE

Visitors wearing masks and looking at the cast of SUE the T. rex in the SUE Meets Bucky exhibit.

A cast of the world-famous SUE the T. rex helped fill the upcoming Dinosphere void that would inevitably come with the long, but temporary closure of Dinosphere. A cast of our own Bucky the teenage T. rex joined SUE in a temporary exhibit—SUE Meets Bucky.

March 2021—Dinosphere® closes to the public

An almost empty Dinosphere featuring a silhouette of Stan the T. rex. Bucky the T. rex and Kelsey the Triceratops have been removed. from their mounting

All fossils were removed from the dome in Dinosphere® and the artwork was removed from The Mann Properties Gallery Featuring the Lanzendorf Collection of Dinosaur Imagery. 

A second shipment of Lower Sauropod fossils was sent to RCI for mounting.

April 2021—spring cleaning begins

In preparation for reopening, our scientists began cleaning all Cretaceous material that was on display in the original Dinosphere®.

May & June 2021—off they go!

Our paleo team completes their part of the preparation of the Lower Sauropod from the Jurassic Mile. It will be shipped to RCI so it can be mounted. 

Paleo team makes histology sections for the exhibit by using bones from the Jurassic Mile™.

The last pieces of the Lower Sauropod are shipped to RCI for mounting.

July 2021—return to the Jurassic Mile

The first wave of the 2021 Mission Jurassic team standing in the Jurassic Mile dig site.

The first wave of The Children’s Museum paleo team returns to the field in Wyoming.

August 2021—field work continues

Dr. Jenn Anne uses a  phone to take a photo of Dr. Victoria Egerton holding a fossil at the Jurassic Mile dig site.

More scientists returned to the dig site. The Jurassic Mile™ is so rich with fossils, work will continue at this site for many years.

“Have no fear because this is not our last season digging here…The future of the Jurassic Mile is longer than a Diplodocus.”
Lead Paleontologist Dr. Jennifer Anné

September 2021—a new catwalk

Recreating the Jurassic Period environment requires a lot of theatrical lighting! A new catwalk was installed, which allows us to hang lighting equipment and video projectors safely above the sauropods. Having this catwalk helps our team easily access this equipment so they can inspect and maintain it for years to come! 

Extraordinary Scientist-in-Residence Prof. Phil Manning and Eli Lilly and Company Extraordinary Scientist-in-Residence Victoria Egerton visited RCI in Canada to study the Lower Sauropod.

October 2021—a new platform

New sauropod platform in Giants of the Jurassic.

A team from RCI visited The Children’s Museum to install a platform and get the stage ready for the sauropods to be installed in Giants of the Jurassic. Do you remember how we said these dinosaur bones are huge? They needed a platform that was specially-designed to hold them! We told RCI what we needed for this exhibit space and they created the platform in their studios.Then they brought the platform to the museum and installed it, making sure it fit perfectly with the armatures that carefully cradle each fossil. They also sculpted and painted the surrounding rockwork to look like the riverbed we imagine our herd of sauropods is walking through. 

Sauropod tail with labels at Research Casting International in Canada
Dr.  Anné, Dr. Egerton, and Professor Anne Schulp—resident paleontologist at our partner institution Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, Netherlands—visited RCI to study the Upper Sauropod.

November 2021—something BIG…is HERE!

Man holding sauropod head and ready to mount it.
A team from RCI in Canada installed Lower Sauropod in Giants of the Jurassic™. After millions of years underground and months of preparation, this colossal creature was finally in its new home!

Installing giant murals in Monsters of the Mesozoic Seas inside the new Dinosphere

Installation experts also installed some amazing paleo art murals to represent the environments in Giants of the Jurassic and Monsters of the Mesozoic Seas

Entrance to new Dinosphere Art Lab. Under construction. A sign lit up above the entrance says

Did you know you can try your hand at creating paleo art in the new Dinosphere®? The Dinosphere Art Lab is the perfect place for you to combine your newly-acquired scientific knowledge with your own spark of creativity. You’re really going to dig it.

December 2021—filling the space

Two people holding a marine fossil skull during its installation inside Monsters of the Mesozoic Seas, part of the new Dinosphere.

Casts that will be featured in Monsters of the Mesozoic Seas, including a giant ammonite, Archaelon, and Elasmosaurus casts were installed by RCI.

Our team began to reinstall all of the dinos you’ve come to know and love from the original Dinosphere®. That’s right. You’ll be able to see Bucky the Tyrannosaurus rex, Kelsey the Triceratops, the Hypacrosaurus family, and the other dinos you’ve  already come to know and love in Creatures of the Cretaceous inside the new Dinosphere®. They aren’t going anywhere.

Huge murals depicting enormous sauropods were installed inside Giants of the Jurassic.

January 2022—more fossils!

An RCI team member is being handed a large sauropod fossil for installation.

Our friends from RCI returned one more time to install Upper Sauropod in Giants of the Jurassic. They also installed the Baptanodon and Plioplatecarpus fossils in Monsters of the Mesozoic Seas.

The reinstallation of the dinos in Creatures of the Cretaceous was completed.

Installing marine fossils along a blue wall in the new Monsters of the Mesozoic Seas inside the new Dinosphere.

Our team continued installing fossils and other objects in Dinosphere Art Lab, Giants of the Jurassic, and Monsters of the Mesozoic Seas.

February 2022—finishing touches

Diplodocid sculpture and other artwork that will be on display in the Dinosphere Art Lab.

The remaining displays, object, and interactives in Dinosphere Art Lab, Giants of the Jurassic, and Monsters of the Mesozoic Seas will be installed. 

The cast of Bucky, which had been on display in the Sunburst Atrium, will returnto storage in our Collections Department. Speaking of the Sunburst Atrium—we have a brand-new show that will be associated with the new Dinosphere®. It’s called Dino Planet: A Trip to the Jurassic. You’ll travel back in time—150 million years ago—to discover first-hand what life was like for the Jurassic giants. You’ll encounter sauropod babies, adolescents, and adults and discover just how these giants grew to be so huge! Be sure to check our online calendar for dates and showtimes. This show will blow you away.

The many team members who will staff this massive exhibit have begun walkthroughs, rehearsals, and run-throughs as all of the final pieces are starting to come together. 

March 2022—ready to open!

The new sound and light show will be completed. It will help set the stage for what you’ll experience when you enter Giants of the Jurassic. And we really mean “enter.” It might not seem possible, but this new expansion of Dinosphere® is going to be even more immersive than before. We aren’t kidding when we say Now You’re in Their World.

An overhead view of visitors taking photos in front of a sauropod in Giants of the Jurassic in the new Dinosphere.

Walkthroughs, rehearsals, and run-throughs will continue as we work towards perfecting the experience for Opening Weekend, March 19 and 20, 2022!

Are you ready? We are!

They ruled the earth for millions of years. A team of scientists led by The Children’s Museum dug them out of the ground. Now they’re here! And we cannot wait to share this brand-new dinosaur world with you.

Masked visitors entering Giants of the Jurassic in the new Dinosphere.

Your jaw will drop as you explore Giants of the Jurassic™, Creatures of the Cretaceous™, and Monsters of the Mesozoic Seas inside the new Dinosphere®. This awe-inspiring immersive exhibit is full of authentic fossils, memorable experiences that include a sound and light show, engaging interactive programming, hands-on interactives and objects, and one-of-a-kind discoveries with real scientists as they continue to work in our two operating paleo labs. Let your imagination run wild as you combine scientific discovery with artistic creativity in the Dinosphere Art Lab.

Opening Day is March 19, 2022. Advance tickets are highly recommended—even for members! We anticipate the opening weeks to be very busy and they might even sell out. We don’t want you to miss this amazing experience. So reserve your tickets today.