“Traveling SUE the T-Rex Exhibit Opens at Science Center of Iowa”

SUE: The T.Rex Experience, a traveling exhibit created by The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, opened at the Science Center of Iowa on Saturday, September 5, A.D. 2020 and will run through Sunday, January 10, A.D. 2021.  The Field Museum created this 5,000-square-foot traveling exhibit SUE: The T.Rex Experience as part of the Griffin Dinosaur Experience (like Antarctic Dinosaurs), which is financed through the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund.[1] 

The exhibit SUE: The T.Rex Experience includes a fully articulated cast skeleton of SUE with added gastralia; full-scale replicas and touchable models; mechanical and digital interactive displays; videos; and a “gallery-wide soundscape.” A life-sized model of SUE created by Blue Rhino Studio for the exhibit was briefly on display in Stanley Field Hall at The Field Museum last month.[2] 

“We jumped on this opportunity not only because we know that, no matter your age, we can all gaze at dinosaurs and be instilled with a sense of awe and wonder – but also because it is an exhibit that we felt confident we could open safely amidst this ‘new normal’ that we are adapting to,” stated Curt Simmons, Science Center if Iowa President and Chief Executive Officer.  “As always, our plans during this pandemic are rooted in science.”

Almost exactly three years ago, the Science Center of Iowa hosted the traveling exhibit Tyrannosaurs: Meet the Family.  That exhibit, developed by the Australian Museum, opened on September 30, A.D. 1017 and ran through April 22, A.D. 2018.

Figure 1 Credit: Katharine Uhrich, Field Museum Caption: This is how the life-sized model of SUE looked when it stood in Stanley Field Hall last month.  The model depicts SUE devouring a juvenile Edmontosaurus head-first.  Created by Blue Rhino Studio, it was assembled by Field Museum staff members. This model is now at the Science Center of Iowa as part of the traveling exhibit SUE : The T.Rex Experience.

Figure 2 Credit: Science Center of Iowa & Blank IMAX Dome Theater Caption: This is the front of the Science Center of Iowa & Blank IMAX Dome Theater.  This picture was taken in August of 2005, three months after the building opened.

Figure 3 Credit: Science Center of Iowa & Blank IMAX Dome Theater Caption: This is the front entrance of the Science Center of Iowa with the “SCI” logo visible.  The address is 401 West Martin Luther King, Junior Parkway, Des Moines, Iowa, 50309.

Figure 4 Credit: Science Center of Iowa & Blank IMAX Dome Theater Caption: Before the COVID-19 lockdowns, the Science Center of Iowa served approximately 300,000 people annually, including museum visitors, preschool students, and participants in a statewide educational program.

Figure 5 Credit: Science Center of Iowa & Blank IMAX Dome Theater Caption: This is the side of the Science Center of Iowa & Blank IMAX Dome Theater.

Figure 6 Credit: Science Center of Iowa & Blank IMAX Dome Theater Caption: SCI Preschool is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children in Washington, D.C.

The Science Center of Iowa & Blank IMAX Dome Theater is located on Martin Luther King, Junior Parkway in Des Moines, Iowa.  It opened as the Des Moines Center of Science and Industry in October of 1970 in Greenwood-Ashworth Park. Originally, it was a project of the Junior League of Des Moines.  The Des Moines Center of Science and Industry was one of the world’s first few science-technology centers. [3]  Its name changed in 1986 to the Science Center of Iowa (S.C.I.) to better reflect the statewide reach of its educational programs.

At the end of the 20th Century, in the year 2000, the S.C.I. began to layout plans to move into a larger facility in downtown Des Moines.  The S.C.I. re-opened in its new home in May of 2005.  By 2017, it had served over 5,000,000 visitors with its exhibits, educational programs, and films.

Currently, the Science Center of Iowa is open on weekends.  One can purchase tickets in advance for time slots between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. and between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.  Face coverings are required for visitors five and over.  Go to this Webpage to learn about changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic: https://www.sciowa.org/reopening/.  General admission tickets are $11.

ENDNOTES


[1] As I explained in “What is the Griffin Dinosaur Experience?” Citadel founder Kenneth C. Griffin underwrote, through the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund, the creation of the “Griffin Dinosaur Experience” at The Field Museum, which initially had five components.  Firstly, there was the de-installation of the Tyrannosaurus rex SUE in Stanley Field Hall and re-installation (in a different stance that reflects scientific knowledge gained after she was originally installed and the inclusion of her gastralia) in a new gallery in The Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet.  Secondly, there was the installation of Máximo, a 122-foot-long replica of a Patagotitan mayorum (pronounced pat-uh-go-tie-tan my-or-um) in Stanley Field Hall. Thirdly, there is the creation of the traveling exhibit Antarctic Dinosaurs, which opened at The Field Museum on Friday, June 15, 2018 and ran through Sunday, January 6, 2019 before it hit the road with a first stop at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles.]  Fourthly, The Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet received enhancements – the installation of a flock of life-sized casts of flying reptiles and state-of-the-art hanging gardens.  Fifthly, The Field Museum developed a new dinosaur educational program.  The exhibit SUE: The T.Rex Experience is new six component if the Griffin Dinosaur Experience.

[2] There is an optional add-on package for SUE: The T.Rex Experience that can appear as part of the exhibit at some venues that consists of fossils from The Field Museum’s collections, ranging from tiny fish scales to large dinosaur bones, and even some real pieces of SUE.  However, the Science Center of Iowa did not opt to include this add-on package.

[3] Science-technology centers are modeled on the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.  They are not science museums as such and do not have collections of artifacts or specimens.  [Nor do they have curators, archivists, and research librarians on staff behind the scenes planning exhibits, caring for artifacts or specimens that are in display or in storage, caring for archival documents and books, and conducting historical research or hosting outside scholars who conduct historical research on-site.]  Rather, they have hands-on models, mock-ups, and interactive simulators.  The stress is more on the current state of science (at least at the time the science center opened or an exhibit within it opened) rather than on the history of science and technology.  In recent decades, science-technology centers have tended to drop references to industry or technology from their names and focused more on abstract science rather than the practical application of science by inventors, engineers, and scientists who invented or improved machines. 

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