Arts and Culture

America's Best Dinosaur Exhibits: Marvel at Monsters From Our Prehistoric Past

Filed Under: Chicago, Colorado, New York, Wyoming

Adults and children marvel at magnificent dinosaur exhibits that give us an inkling of what life was like when these giants ruled the Earth. Behold the beauty of dinosaur bones and get your hands dirty on a dino-dig with paleo-technicians at these great dinosaur exhibits.

Wyoming Dinosaur Center
Thermopolis, Wyoming
There's plenty of room for the wild things at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center with 12,000 square feet of exhibit space. The museum's central hall features 20 full-size dinosaur skeletons. Outside the museum, visitors can learn how scientists find and remove dinosaur bones during a dig site tour in the hills of Warm Springs Ranch, home to over 60 dig sites. For a more intense experience, adults and children can join paleo-technicians on a search for Jurassic dinosaur fossils on an active dig site.

Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center
Woodland Park, Colorado
The Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center (RMDRC), near Colorado Springs, houses more than 30 life-size prehistoric specimens. Impressive displays include the carnivorous Albertosaurus libratus (a close relative of T-rex, but 10 million years older) and the Bambiraptor, one of the most complete raptors discovered in North America. Visitors can take a peek inside the Paleontology Lab to see scientists working on their latest field discoveries and then head off to the Children's Resource Center where little ones can construct their own species of dinosaurs out of magnets and other art supplies.

American Museum of Natural History
New York, New York
The American Museum of Natural History has been a New York institution since it opened in 1869. It's a must-see stop on any great dinosaur tour around the country. The main attraction is the jaw-dropping Barosaurus that towers over spectators in the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda. This 5-story beauty is the highest freestanding dinosaur display in the world. In addition, the museum's 4 majestic fossil halls feature the largest collection of vertebrate fossils in the world with a total of nearly 1 million specimens of all sizes. Two of these halls are dedicated to saurischian dinosaurs, like the easily recognizable Apatosaurus, and the plant-eating ornithischian dinosaurs.

Field Museum of National History
Chicago, Illinois
People are so familiar with the Field Museum's resident T-rex that she is known to most simply as Sue. This famous lady in Chicago is over 67 million years old and is the largest, most complete and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex fossil in the world. Children and adults alike stand agape at the surprisingly delicate and bird-like feet of this 13-foot-tall and 42-foot-long beauty and marvel at her razor-sharp teeth and massive legs. Despite her girlish name, scientists actually don't know if Sue is male or female, so she bears the name of the fossil hunter who discovered the skeleton, Sue Hendrickson. After a visit with Sue, head to the Genius Hall of Dinosaurs where specimens from every major dinosaur group are displayed, including the rare Rapetosaurus krausei. This sauropod from Madagascar was just a kid when it died, but a pretty big one at 18 feet long. It's the only one of its kind exhibited anywhere in the world.

Dinosaur Journey Museum
Fruita, Colorado
You can do more than ogle the dinosaur bones at Colorado's Dinosaur Journey Museum, a hands-on, interactive museum celebrating paleontology. While there are authentic fossils and cast skeletons of creatures including a Velociraptor and a Stegosaurus, kids will be equally impressed with the robotic creations that show how dinosaurs moved. After touring the exhibits, let the little ones chill out with some good dino-books in the reading room, and then head to the kids' quarry to make some dinosaur tracks and hunt for Jurassic bones.

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
Washington, DC
The Hall of Paleobiology at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, is a study of the history of life on Earth, dating back nearly 3.5 billion years. The first fossils were added to the museum's collection in 1859, and since then scientists have led expeditions around the world to bring back the goods to this world-renowned museum. The museum's Dinosaur Hall features the tall, long-necked Diplodocus and the armored Stegosaurus. In 2001, the museum's Triceratops had a restorative makeover that included a more accurate posture and new bones replicated by molding and casting and 3-D technology. The original fossil bones are now stored in the museum's collection to protect them from humidity, vibrations and general wear and tear that comes along with museum life.

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