WASHINGTON (WJZ)—Closed for repairs. The dinosaur hall at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has shut down for five years.
Mary Bubala reports fossil fans flocked there this weekend to get a final glimpse before renovations begin.
Eight year-old Bryce Poole calls it the dinosaur bone museum, his favorite.
His mom, Amy, and the rest of the family knew they had to come.
“It’s the last day of the dinosaurs. It won’t reopen until he’s 13, so we thought we’d get one last visit in,” she said.
Even a Tyrannosaurus rex can’t out-muscle museum maintenance.
The doors are now closed as the second-most visited museum in the world undergoes a $48 million overhaul.
The century-old dinosaur hall will close and nearly 8 million visitors a year won’t get to see the museum’s most popular attraction.
“There [is] really no cosmetic fix for this hall. What we’re seeing here is Band-Aid after Band-Aid after Band-Aid,” said Kirk Johnson, museum director.
Walls are being repaired and a new floor will be installed along with other structural issues.
The story of more than 2,000 dinosaurs will be retold after the fossils have also been restored.
“Here’s a place where the bone was filled out with more plaster of Paris. What we’ll actually do is remove the skeleton from the plaster of Paris. It’s almost like we have to re-excavate it all over again.”
The museum is also making room for its newest Jurassic star, a 66 million year old Tyrannosaurus rex, discovered by Montana ranchers 25 years ago.
Until then, visitors can see a smaller collection of dinosaurs and still view the iconic Hope Diamond.
But the rest of us will have to wait until at least 2019 before these creatures can roam our imagination once more.
Every single dinosaur skeleton in the hall will be dismantled, cleaned and remounted.
Experts say when they go back up, they will look less like trophies and more as they were when they were alive in their natural habitat.
Temporary dinosaur exhibits will be open during the renovation, including a “rex room,” where people can watch staff unpack the new T. rex skeleton.
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