Friday 14 December 2007

Tyrrell Dinosaurs educate, will the R.O.M.?

Later today the Royal Ontario Museum will open the second floor of the Michael Lee Chin Crystal to card-carrying members who want to see two new galleries: Gallery of the Age of Mammals, and even further back into prehistory, the (takeadeepbreath!) James and Louise Temerty Galleries of the Age of Dinosaurs.

This got me thinking back to my seminal trip to the Royal Tyrrell Museum this past July, and what I liked about how the Tyrrell displayed it's prehistoric beauties. And something in particular comes to mind.


The most effective displays are the ones that let everyone, young and old, explore the featured fossils at their own level. Like this globe wall (above) at the Royal Tyrrell Museum highlighting ceratopsians. Or the Tyrrell's Cretaceous Garden, complete with waterfall and humidity.

What's most effective is when there are three levels of text, allowing people to read as deeply as they choose. Something like this:

Glendon Mellow, 80' long, 90 tons. b.1974

This species of artist grazed on the fossil-fields
of prehistory to create his paintings.

The Glendon was discovered by Page 3.14 and featured in a ScienceBlogs interview. He later went on to produce a logo for Shelley Batts of Retrospectacle, and this led to
fame and fortune. Eventually, he blew this fortune on a new micron brushes and began a series of dinosaur paintings on shale, all of which featured barosaurus with large moustaches and Rip Van Winkle beards rendered in stunningly tiny detail.
The three layers of text allow each visitor to become as engaged as they like. For myself, and many other children, I can remember poring over these captions and devouring each word.

I am a big fan of the R.O.M.'s Crystal, and I have high hopes about how the dinosaur collection will fill the industrial-postmodern caverns. The lights that pores into the Crystal should heighten the drama.

Here are some photos I took at the Tyrrell this summer of how the information could look at the R.O.M. if they let Gordo the barosaurus write his own entry.

These two skulls are part of a larger display explaining the varieties of ceratopsians. The Tyrrell is well-known for its Centrosaurs, (the one on the right), as the nearby Dinosaur Provincial Park is home to a staggering number of their fossils.

Also, check out this howling Dire Wolf display from the Tyrrell's prehistoric Mammal Galleries(rampaging Orcs not included). It's chillingly posed as though still alive, and the wall behind is a montage in information in easy to chew on morsels, (much like this blog).

Both museums have impressed me a lot this year, and as I've stated elsewhere, I've had a lifelong fascination with the Royal Ontario Museum. It was my birthday destination of choice as a child and pre-teen. A spectacular illustration at the Tyrrell; unfortunately no artist credit!

The Royal Tyrrell Museum has a more robust collection of prehistoric fossils than the R.O.M., and that's appropriate, it is specialising and near bone beds. My feeling is that dinosaurs and mammals will be stunning in the Crystal; I just hope the information is there for kids like I was to explore as much as they can.

All photos above taken at the Royal Tyrrell Museum; photo credits to G. Mellow and an unnamed family member of his. Copyright the Tyrrell and the animals pictured. They love the paparazzi.)


Anonymous said...

Wow, I haven't been out Drumheller way since the 70's, but it looks like they've given the place quite a facelift in the past few decades. Personally, I can't wait to check out the ROM's facelift. I just have to see the sauropod that got forgotten about.

Glendon Mellow said...

Yeah, Gordo should be a treat. Longest skeleton in the country, and I think 45% is real bone!

Amazing story too.

Shelley said...

That dino skull was a beauty! Maybe it was Carl's work? :)

And are you really doing some paintings on shale? Cause that would be sweet...

Glendon Mellow said...

Yeah, the illustrations were great. Too bad you couldn't buy a book of them. I'll have to email the museum to find out who they were by. And I think the style was too spare to be Carl! :) Good economy of line though. Maybe Michael Skrepnick?

I've started two more on shale. One's a puzzle that can be put together two ways.

traumador said...

Ah home *slight tear*... I miss the Tyrrell...

I know the illustrator, but her name is not on the tip of my peanut brain... she is the museum's resident artist... I'll find out for you pronto.

I can't wait to check out the revamped ceratopsian display, and the Albertosaur pack in the lobby.

Thanks for the snipet of home ;p

Glendon Mellow said...

You're welcome, Traumador. It must be hard living so far away. Exciting though. New Zealand must be gorgeous.

Please do let me know the illustrator's name! If she has a website of any kind, I'd like to make a permanent link. Her work is impressive. Work those connections!

The Albertosaurs were impressive. Nothing like taking a photo from right underneath a rampaging predator.

traumador said...

Sorry it took SO long, but I found your illustrator!

Donna Lee Sloan. She's the Tyrrell's resident science illustrator.

Hope that helps solve that mystery!

Glendon Mellow said...

Thanks, Traumador! I'll look for her images online, and make a link. Fantastic stuff.

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