So on Saturday I had the opportunity to check out the new DinoLabs exhibit opening at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. It’s located on the bottom floor of the museum, in the corner near the entrance to the Omni Imax Theater.
As you enter the exhibit, the main focal point is a raised platform showcasing a battle between an Allosaurus (the carnivore) and a Camptosaurus, the herbivore being attacked. The platform is raised and an island, so you can walk around it completely to see all of the bones well.
There are also a couple of display cases with bones and other fossils displayed, like this T-Rex skull.
There’s fossilized redwood and other plant life. My favorite was this palm tree. I think it’s amazing how you can see the pattern of the trunk and leaf stalks in the fossil. You can look at it and see the palm tree it once was, I find that so interesting.
There’s also tall displays on the walls, with rocks, minerals, and fossils grouped together. If you went through and read each card aloud, I’d say you’d spend about 20-30 minutes looking at the displays.
But the really cool part are the video walls. At the back of the exhibit are two 20-foot long video walls. The one facing the rest of the display is a landscape showing a pre-historic world complete with volcanoes and tropical plant life, pterosaurs flying overhead and dinosaurs roaming around. The genius thing about this is that the museum has placed 3 Xboxes in control of this wall, and they utilize the cameras on the Xboxes in a really great way. As you approach and walk along the wall, the dinosaurs ‘see’ you and will react. At one point a group of toddlers were standing in front of the wall, and every time one of them jumped, a velociraptor would jump too, as if it was jumping at the kids.
It was actually a bit creepy how the raptors watched you, but these kids were too little to have seen Jurassic Park, so they likely didn’t know any better.
I also saw a T-Rex come running into the frame and roar at a toddler, who did scream in fright before laughing.
It’s a really ingenious way of having the patrons interact with the exhibit, both the kids and parents I saw really got a kick out this. But the highlight was the second video wall. On either side of this video wall, there’s an opening to go behind the wall and enter DinoLand. DinoLand has some small tables with coloring pages of dinosaur outlines, and some small computer stations. Once you’ve colored in your drawing, you are told to place your picture on the computer station.
The computer scans it, and your dinosaur instantly appears on the second video wall, walking through the landscape with all of the other dinosaurs kids have colored.
This was really fun, the kids got a huge kick out of seeing their dinos pop up on the screen.
The exhibit isn’t very large at all, and the interactive things are cool but slightly geared toward a younger set. I’d say 3-7 is probably the prime targets for the interactive stuff, though older dino nuts will be interested in the bones themselves.
All in all, I would tell you to make sure you check it out while at the museum, but not to make a trip just for this to the museum. It’s not big enough to warrant a trip all on it’s own, but it’s definitely interesting enough to check out while there. I would give yourself 30 minutes to an hour for this section of the museum. Luckily the FWMSH has enough going on to keep you and/or your kids busy for hours, and this is a great addition to that.