Di­nosaurs shake grounds at MASM

The Sentinel-Record - - FRONT PAGE - GRACE BROWN

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.

The Sen­tinel-Record/Grace Brown

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.

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