You’d think kids would run screaming at the sight of 15 massive and moving dinosaurs, but OMSI’s new exhibit, Dinosaurs Unearthed, doesn’t seem to frighten even the smallest of the small fries. In fact, the closer and more fierce the creature, the more it makes the kids just want to reach over the ropes to touch their sharp-looking teeth.
After you pass through the main entry’s turnstile, you’ll see them. First, the fuzzy, feathery, towering Gigantoraptor and then the smaller, rubber-skinned Dilophosaurus, are out in the main walkway area. Inside the main hall, it’s pretty dark. Parents and kids slowly wind their way through the singular, roped-off path that lets them sidle right up next to the dinosaurs. Moaning, groaning and shrieking can be heard around every corner, and for once, it’s not the kids. The noise level is fairly constant, but it never seems overwhelming.
Each animatronic animal is lit by its own set of spotlights. Their eyes blink, mouths open and close, tails sweep from side to side, front legs paw at the air, sides heave and their necks crane. It’s not like the old days of hokey, jerky heads moving side to side. These things look pretty real and all of them move really smoothly. Habitats for the dinos are made up of real mulch, rocks and silk ferns or silk palm trees and rubber gravelly bits the size of kitty litter, depending on what their surroundings would have been back in their day.
Though most are by themselves, some of the dinos are in pairs of two, including the jaw-dropping adult T-Rex and baby, covered in soft, downy feathers, on the north side of the exhibit. It’s hard to believe these things used to roam around North America.
There are also a couple of side-by-side skeletons next to their moving versions, like the Apatosaurus with its 9-meter neck and the Stegosaurus with its spiny back. Though it’s amazing to see the bones and learn about the mechanics, the dinosaurs definitely look much bigger and ominous when they’re covered with “skin” and moving around.
Actual bone, egg, horn, and claw fossils are placed around the exhibit in glass cases. The kids don’t seem too taken by these because there are so many other moving things to look at, so it helps to point them out – maybe on your second pass-through.
Other displays are there for the touching and dinosaur fast facts, are everywhere. Near the Stegosaurus, you can push down a plunger that will let you hoot like a Corythosaurus, which is how these hollow-headed dinos used to talk to each other. Get ready to plug your ears, though, because it’s high-pitched sound – and kiddos are happy to try it out over and over again.
On the outside of the exhibit near the cafeteria is the Junior Paleontologist Field Dig area. A low table is set up with rubbery gravel and paint brushes to let kiddos and their handlers discover any fossils below. Over, near the windows is an ongoing craft station that will be periodically set up for making cute Triceratops dinosaur masks.
OMSI is also showing Dinosaurs Alive 3D, Flying Monsters 3D and Sea Monsters 3D in the Empirical Theater daily. Check omsi.edu for showtimes.
1945 SE Water Ave.
Portland, Or 97214
Tues.-Sun., 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Summer Extended Hours Effective June 14: Sun.-Thurs., 9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 9:30 a.m.- 9 p.m.
Exhibit runs now through September 2nd.
Online at: omsi.edu
Does your little one love dinosaurs? Let us know if you’ll be checking this out in the Comments section below!
Photos courtesy of OMSI and Suzie Ridgway