Those of you familiar with Edwina, the Dinosaur That Didn’t Know She Was Extinct by Mo Willems — whose work is currently on view at the NY Historical Society — might be surprised that the book’s main character Reginald Von Hoobie Doobie could have been wrong. According to a new exhibit, dinosaurs aren’t exactly extinct; in fact, as the title of the exhibit suggests, they live among us today in the form of feathered friends. While the suggestion that birds are descendants of dinosaurs isn’t a new idea, the exhibit, through detailed research and modern technology, is educational, interactive, engaging and surprising in many ways.
For starters, the exhibit opens with a three-minute video on three, funky-shaped screens (think twisted hexagons) that immediately draws the viewer in through animation and graphics that will be as interesting to a budding artist as a “Sid the Science Kid”-type. Following that, visitors encounter a series of interactive stations, and they can collect stamps in a provided visitor’s guide at each one.
It’s Not Just Bones
While older kids might love to read about species, eggs, fossils and feathers, this exhibit isn’t just skeletons on display and texts to read. Older toddlers and children 4-6 will enjoy climbing on a nest to help hatch a dinosaur, as well as turning wheels to figure out which eggs belong to what creatures. There’s even a place to listen to modern bird calls that asks the visitor if dinosaurs could also have indeed made sounds in this same way.
Other Cool Visuals
One of the best aspects of the exhibit (for visitors small and big) is that you don’t have to be scientifically-inclined to find it interesting or accessible. Whether it be feathers on display in all shapes and sizes or unexpected items such as wishbones — there were many visuals to capture even the type of kid (or adult) who finds it tough to relate to science. In fact, during the exhibit preview, members of the 4th grade from PS 87 enthusiastically looked at every aspect of the exhibit.
Quite possibly the most popular with the kids was the “Will It Fly?” interactive section of the exhibit. It’s here that visitors can digitally build a dinosaur by selecting a wing, body and a muscle size, and then see if that particular combo can actually achieve liftoff. Kids kept going back to see the results of different combinations, and this engineering element of the exhibit was clearly a big hit.
But Wait, There’s More
The visitor’s guide is also helpful in that it contains a scavenger hunt-like section for museum-goers to find different types of dinos throughout the exhibit, and then draw on a meter displayed how “bird-like” each one is. It’s a helpful, sly and fun way to get kids to focus and discover even more along the way. The back of the guide contains even more info on the exhibit, and also shares amnh.org/ology, the museum’s website for kids, where you’ll find games, hands-on activities, videos and more.
And of course, you shouldn’t leave the museum without checking out its newest dino, the 122-foot-long Titanosaur (but he’s pretty hard to miss).
Museum Of Natural History
Mar. 21, 2016 – Jan. 2, 2017
Tickets to Dinosaurs Among Us, which include general admission, are $27 (adults), $22 (students/seniors), and $16 (children 2-12)
Member Preview Days are Fri.-Sun., Mar. 18-20
Central Park West at 79th St.
Do you think we still live in an age of dinosaurs? Check out the exhibit and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
— Kim Sunshine