We go digging at the Museum of Science and Industry to see if Dinosaurs! — a 5,000 square-foot-exhibit featuring 10 animatronic dinosaurs — is worth a trip back in time.
The northwest corner of the main building was transformed into the Mesozoic era, re-created in a dark space filled with creatures like a soaring Pterandodon, a ferocious Tyrannosaurus rex and two popular herbavores: the Parasaurolophus and Stegosaurus.
Why this is a good exhibit for kids:
1. The dinosaurs really move. But shhhh, don't tell the kiddies it's all robotics. They'll have more fun thinking the T-rex really just roared at them.
2. There are also cute little baby dinosaurs, if the bigger ones are scaring off your young ones. Almost makes you want to jump the rope and go nurture that poor little Ankylosaurus crying for his Mommy.
3. The dino dig box invites little hands to brush aside rubber chips to expose dinosaur bones.
4. If you're there at the right time, a cart is wheeled through the exhibit for some hands on learning. Dinosaur fossils like teeth and bones are shown to those interested, and explained as well.
5. The gift shop has a mechanical dinosaur (boneless, skinless) that shows you how the robotics work by pressing the buttons.
What might hold you back:
It's a very small, compact exhibit. For professional dinosaur seekers who have been to Utah, Wyoming and Colorado's finest dinosaur museums (like us) don't expect too much. You'll be done in about 10 minutes. It is, after all, an exhibit. Not a museum. Oh, and they should throw some brushes in at the dino dig box and more paper at the rubbing stations, to keep the kiddies more occupied.
1. Cool stuff in the gift shop, from buildable models to T-shirts to 4-feet tall stuffed T-rexes.
2. Bathrooms are right around the corner from the exhibit.
3. MOSI's cafe is stocked with dino nuggets.
4. Plenty of free parking.
5. Enough other stuff in the rest of the museum to keep the exhibit free from crowds and more enjoyable to navigate.
If you're a MOSI member, admission to Dinosaurs! is free. However, for non-members, it's a bit pricey: $23.95 for adults; $19.95 for kids. In fact, we'd almost call those prices ridiculous. Stopping us is this: the price does include admission to the rest of MOSI and an IMAX movie (not including full-length features films.) Essentially, you're paying $3 more on top of the regular admission price to see Dinosaurs! Personally, for families of 3 or more, we'd suggest popping for the $99 family pass for the whole year. Which means for an extra $25 or so, you can come back as much as you want and see the Dinos again, or just kill a rainy day at the Kids In Charge play area. Plus, the pass will get you into 250 other museums around the country.
Dinosaurs! is a neat little detour at MOSI — not an all-day excursion.
Dong-Phuong Nguyen can be reached at (813) 269-5312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.