Dinosaurs arrive at Hands On! Museum

Sue Guinn Legg • Sep 19, 2012 at 8:37 AM

“Dinosaurs,” a traveling exhibit of six animatronic dinosaurs and a nest of babies from the Catawba Science Center in Hickory, N.C., will open Saturday at Hands On! Regional Museum.

“The truck was unloaded Friday and we’re setting up now,” Exhibit Manager Liz Nevil-Smith said. “The dinosaurs are all set up and ready to go and today we’re setting up foliage for the scene that they’re in. We’ve tested them and all they’re running smoothly. Their heads move. Their mouths open. They roar. And they do make quite a bit of noise.”

The robotic stars of the exhibit are Tyrannosaurus rex, Triceratops, Pachycephalosaurus, Dimetrodon, Stegosaurus and mother Apatosaurus and her brood of newly hatched children. They all operate on air compressors and each is approximately half of the size the prehistoric creatures they represent. At 27 feet in length theApatosaurus, the dinosaur formerly known as Brontosaurus, is the longest in the exhibit. T. rex is the tallest by far.

“Their feet move. The eyes move on one of them. They’re neat. When you watch them, they sort of come to life,” Nevil-Smith said.

The exhibit is a continuation of the “All Dinosaurs. All Year” 25th anniversary theme selected in celebration of the wide margin of popularity dinosaur exhibits have held among young guest at Hands On! since the museum opened in 1987.

In addition to an interactive opportunity to learn about the lives of dinosaurs, where and when they lived and what their diet included, the exhibit includes an art area for drawing dinosaurs, a dinosaur-themed play area for toddlers and, for the mechanically minded, a cross section cutout in one of the exhibit’s cast to show the workings of its robotic innards.

The exhibit will run through Jan. 8. Museum admission is $8 and free for children age 2 and under. Hours are Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday from 1-5 p.m. and Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For information, visit www.handsonmuseum.org or call the museum at 434-4163.

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