Dinosaurs shake grounds at MASM
Mid-America Science Museum is putting the finishing touches on 18 different dinosaurs that will be featured in the Oaklawn Foundation Dino Trek outdoor exhibit in time for the grand opening on May 26.
“What’s really exciting, to me, about Dino Trek … (it is) the first outdoor dinosaur exhibit of its
kind in the state. It’s going to be a great additional attraction for the museum (and) for Hot Springs,” said the museum’s marketing director, Jim Miller.
A grant of $400,000 from the Oaklawn Foundation combined with $100,000 from the museum went into the project. The overall plan for the Oaklawn Foundation Dino Trek at Mid-America is to continue to build upon the exhibit, Miller said.
The money allowed the museum to purchase all 18 of the models, including the massive Brachiosaurus and ferocious Allosaurus, build the paved trail, and add a fence line along the museum’s property. Construction on the trek began last July.
“It’s been wonderful. I’ve learned so much about dinosaurs because what I learned in school is different. They’ve found more facts, they’ve found more dinosaurs. With the Arkansaurus that they named a couple of weeks ago, that was exciting. It seems like everything is dinosaur related, even outside of the museum,” said exhibit designer Lori Arnold.
The outdoor exhibit covers just about a mile of previously unutilized land on the museum’s property. Visitors have the opportunity to walk through a chronologically ordered exhibit featuring the earth’s most massive reptiles that once roamed Earth.
“We will have sound effects, as well. So you’ll be able to hear all the dinosaurs while you’re out here experiencing the dino trek. There is also going to be a lot of educational programming surrounding the trek for people who want to learn more about the dinosaurs,” Miller said.
Miller also stressed the museum’s excitement to find a way to utilize a large portion of the property that’s remained undeveloped for many years. The exhibit flows along the west side of the building and around a portion of the rear of the building.
“It’s just been wonderful, this whole project. A lot of volunteers have come out to help us with things like moving the dinosaurs. We’ve had a lot of volunteers come in and that’s really neat,” said Arnold.
In addition to the Oaklawn Foundation Dino Trek, the museum will also offer a dino camp to kick off a seven-week summer camp series for local youths.
On the opening day of the exhibit, the museum will host a members-only event called “Dinos and Donuts,” sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts. The exhibit will be open to the public after 10 a.m. that day.
“Since it’s all outdoors, (visitors) will also be able to come out here and enjoy the natural beauty around the museum. This is just going to be an extension of our exhibit floor, essentially,” Miller said.
PREHISTORIC PROGRESS: Triston Bracewell, with Fast Signs Hot Springs, helps his father, Bill, left, and Skyler Smith install the head to a Brachiosaurus featured in the new Oaklawn Foundation Dino Trek exhibit at Mid-America Science Museum on Thursday.