Friday, March 4, 2011

Behind-the-Scenes at the American Museum of Natural History

Reception in the Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History's Dinosaur Tweetup.

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) had a hand in raising me. I literally spent summers there as a kid. The rotunda Barosaurus and I are old friends—it was under his watchful eye, after all, that I had my introduction to evolution, science, and natural history. With two working parents, the museum was the best way to spend my days and I roamed the Hall of Mammals and the fossil halls freely, soaking it all in. As I grew older, it was frequently my escape. And it still is. After a long week, or a particularly rough day, all it takes is quick run uptown on the C train to make me feel better. Leisurely afternoons in the Hall of Pacific Peoples—which often feels like another world—and the fossil halls are my favorite things. This place played a huge role in the ways I think, write, and talk about science. And last night, the AMNH Dinosaur Tweetup took me behind the scenes and showed me some of the ways the spaces I love came to be.

Tweetup participants mingled in the Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs and were allowed to attend two behind-the-scenes tours, which were determined by the color of the dinosaur silly bandz they selected. The first for me was a no-brainer: the Big Bone Room, home to the largest collection of fossils in the world. The museum only displays approximately two percent of its collection—the rest sits in storage, housed on these movable rack-type shelves that were pushed back for us to reveal some truly cool fossils:

Fossil racks at AMNH.

Left: Cast of Brontosaurus head.

Sacrum of Camarasaurus—it weighs a mere 650-lbs.

One of the neatest things of the night was seeing three prepared fossils that give us a clear image of a brooding dinosaur. Collections manager Carl Mehling actually crouched down to help the group visualize the story that the bones were trying to tell:

80 million-year-old brooding dinosaur—and Carl Mehling.

Following this tour, it was back to the Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs for another selection from the silly bandz pool. The choice I faced was a tough one: meet paleontologist Mark Norell or visit the Exhibition Design Studio. I went back and forth on the my choice, and ultimately chose the Exhibition Studio, where we were in for a treat—we got a look at how the upcoming exhibition The World's Largest Dinosaurs is coming together:

Model for upcoming World's Largest Dinosaurs Exhibit.

Thanks so much to the American Museum of Natural History for an amazing evening. You showed me the museum as I had never seen it, and I was once again reminded of the wonder that this place can evoke. 

Readers, if you'd like to spend a fabulous evening at AMNH, follow the museum on Twitter and/or Facebook, and look for instructions on how to apply for a spot at the next tweetup.

For additional coverage of the AMNH Dinosaur Tweetup, visit Dinosaur Tracking and the AMNH press page. You can also view additional photos on the AiP Facebook page.


  1. Excellent post, Krystal! Loved the Tweetup last night.


  2. Thanks Alex! Sorry we didn't get to chat—next time!

  3. Not to nitpick but... that's not a femur, that's a sacrum (a set of fused vertebra that form part of the pelvis).