“You say the word ‘dinosaur’ and everybody flocks,” says Amy Hock, director of marketing and public relations for the Science Center of Iowa.
She is standing underneath an 11-foot-tall, 60-foot-long statue of Mamenchisaurus that is currently visiting the Science Center as part of The World’s Largest Dinosaurs exhibit.
Mamenchisaurus is not the largest sauropod the exhibit showcases, but it is the largest statue they could fit inside the Science Center’s exhibition room. Surrounding the statue, there are a variety of different interactive stations that aim to show just how big the creatures really were. In one station, you can lift a giraffe neck bone and compare it to the weight of a sauropod neck bone. In another, you can see just how much food sauropods, who were herbivores, needed to eat every hour to produce enough energy to survive.
There is also a cork dig-pit so patrons can experience what it’s like to search for fossils, a model of a sauropod’s lungs that lights up to show how they breathed, and a life-sized replica of a Supersaurus leg bone. All the while, there is a video playing that narrates some of what we know about sauropods.
The traveling exhibit is curated by Mark Norell of the Paleontology division of the American Museum of Natural History, and it will be visiting the Science Center for about six months, which is an especially long period of time for traveling exhibits.
“How cool that it is here over Thanksgiving break? And winter break? And even spring break?” Hock says. “If you’re looking for opportunities for things for kids to do, the Science Center’s open.”
But the exhibit is not only for young dinosaur lovers. In fact, since its opening on Oct. 15, Hock says people of all ages have come in just to experience it.
“[On the first day], it wasn’t just grandparents coming with their grandkids. It was grandparents coming because they wanted to see it, too,” Hock explains.
Looking up at the life-sized mural of a sauropod whose neck can’t even fully fit on the wall, it isn’t hard to understand why. In a time where the largest animals we see are behind zoo fences and removed from the context of our everyday lives, it feels natural to be intrigued by these giant creatures who once roamed free on this very land.
The World’s Largest Dinosaurs exhibit will live at the Science Center until April of 2023, but don’t let that keep you from making it a priority. Traveling exhibits like this one are the only dinosaur exhibits the Science Center presents, so once it’s gone, it’s gone.
“When the exhibit goes away, people automatically assume that we just always have dinosaurs,” Hock says. “And so we’ve got a lot of sad kids that come and there are no dinosaurs.”
The exhibit is included in general admission tickets to the Science Center. Patrons can also view it during certain Science Center special events like Murder Mystery Mixology on Oct. 28 and Spooky Science on Oct. 29.
Can you hear the rumbling in the distance? That’s the sound of a 90 ton Sauropod tromping into downtown Des Moines! Come experience the magic of these creatures at the Science Center of Iowa. The traveling exhibition, The World’s Largest Dinosaurs, is open NOW! @AMNH pic.twitter.com/faNWgCq3YJ
— Science Center of IA (@SCIOWA) October 15, 2022