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COSI and AMNH Team Up To Bring Dinosaurs to Columbus

Jesse Bethea Jesse Bethea COSI and AMNH Team Up To Bring Dinosaurs to ColumbusPhoto by Robb McCormick.
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On Friday morning, dinosaurs were loosed upon the city of Columbus. City, state and local business leaders helped the staff of the Center of Science and Industry and the American Museum of Natural History reveal two massive skeletons; one Stegosaurus and one Tyrannosaurus rex. Both skeletons are on loan from AMNH, and in a little more than a year, these and other ancient creatures will be on display at COSI.

By Friday afternoon, the dinosaurs were boxed up for storage until their new home is ready for them. Surrounded by crates full of bones, Jaclyn Reynolds, COSI’s Director of Communications, said this unique partnership between the museums has been in the works for a while. An investment of $5 million from the state and a $2 million gift from Abigail and Leslie Wexner ultimately made it possible for the partnership to go forward.

“Over the years, dinosaurs have been a perennial favorite of COSI members and visitors,” said Reynolds. “When we have dinosaur exhibitions they’re really well-received and… in speaking with our membership and our guests there’s always a lot of interest there to have a little bit more of a natural history element.”

In 52 years of operation, COSI has hosted dinosaur exhibits on about eight different occasions. But Reynolds said this exhibit is going to be different.

“This is not considered a temporary exhibition,” said Reynolds. “The exhibition hall that will host the dinosaurs will be with us for a long-term engagement and then we’ll also have a second gallery that will host American Museum of Natural History premier exhibitions. So that will be a rotating exhibition gallery and then we’ll have a more permanent, steady, dinosaur exhibition area.”

The permanent Dinosaur Gallery is expected to be finished by late fall of 2017, while the first premier exhibition from AMNH will open in February of 2018. The two new exhibition galleries will be constructed by the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation, which has also invested in an underground parking garage and greenspace project next to COSI.

Reynolds said COSI’s new natural history exhibitions will contribute to the overall vision of the Scioto Peninsula as it develops.

“We are excited to become a premier destination area for families on this peninsula and we think that having an exhibition area with such amazing exhibitions from the American Museum of Natural History will really fill that role,” said Reynolds.

Other than the Orton Geological Museum on OSU’s campus, Columbus does not have a large museum dedicated to natural sciences. While the AMNH galleries will represent only a fraction of COSI’s attractions and overall mission, Reynolds noted natural history exhibits such as these have a lot to teach the public about complex scientific systems. The role of such exhibits as gateways to science was something Ellen V. Futter, President of the American Museum of Natural History, mentioned in a press release issued Friday.

“AMNH and COSI share a deep commitment to enhancing the public understanding of science, and today, broad access to science and to science education is more important than ever,” said Futter. “Museums and science centers have a vital role to play in this arena, and this exceptional collaboration between the Museum and COSI will provide a unique visitor experience and learning opportunity. We are very pleased to bring these exciting new exhibitions and educational resources about current science and discoveries in paleontology to the Columbus area.”

Photos by Robb McCormick.

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