John Tolley, April 17, 2019
Ancient mastodons, prehistoric cetaceans and the scourge of the Late Cretaceous skies, the dread Quetzalcoatlus northropi have moved into some fancy new digs.
The recently-built 312,000-square-foot Biological Sciences Building is the new home to the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History. Previously, the museum had spent 90 years in the Albert Kahn-designed Ruthven Building across the plaza. Its new home provides curators opportunities to make exhibits more interactive and immersive and for expansion of educational experiences for students and visitors alike.
Alongside the relative plethora of mastodons about, those cetaceans swimming through the naturally-lit atrium or the swooping pterosaur, visitors will find features such as a state-of-the-art planetarium and dome theatre, a showcase of U-M undergrad work and a multimedia Tree of Life Exhibit.
Sure, to incite both curiosity and fear, is the museum's newest fossil acquisition, Majungasaurus, an apex predator from Madagascar that is thought to have turned on its own kind when the pickings were slim.
Speaking with U-M News, University of Michigan Museum of Natural History president Amy Harris noted that, while the museum has been around for quite some time, it almost seems like a grand opening.
"This is such an exciting time for the museum," said Harris. "We're looking forward to seeing our visitors' faces as they discover old friends such as the mastodon couple in their new home, or meet our new dinosaur, Majungasaurus, for the first time. It is an important moment for the university and the community at large, and we look forward to sharing our new space with everyone."
The museum is designed to fully integrate its mission of exploratory learning into the larger backdrop of a major research university. U-M students wind past exhibits as they come and go, and visitors are invited to watch as the work unfolds in the museum's two open labs, including the Fossil Prep Lab where, via an intercom, visitors can speak with faculty and student-researchers.
The museum fully opened to the public on April 15, with new exhibits cycling in throughout the year. Admission is always FREE, although donations are most welcome. To learn more about ongoing exhibits and learning opportunities, visit the museum's website here.