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Field Museum to revamp 'Sue' display, add cast of largest dinosaur ever discovered

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In celebration of The Field Museum’s 125th anniversary in 2018, Sue the T. Rex will be getting a makeover and a touchable cast of the largest dinosaur ever discovered will be put on exhibit, courtesy of a $16.5-million gift from the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund, one of the largest private contributions ever to a Chicago museum.

“The Field Museum’s never-ending goal is to offer the best possible dinosaur experiences. Ken Griffin’s long-time support is a major step forward in achieving that goal,” Field Museum President Richard Lariviere said in a statement released this week. “With this extraordinary gift from Ken, we’ll be able to create a more scientifically accurate and engaging home for Sue the T. Rex and welcome the world’s largest dinosaur to the Field.”

The new dinosaur is a cast made from the fossil bones of Patagotitan mayorum, a colossal long-necked herbivore from Argentina which belongs to a group of dinosaurs called titanosaurs.

From snout to tail, Patagotitan mayorum stretches 122 feet long, longer than two accordion CTA buses end-to-end. It’s so tall that visitors on the Museum’s second-floor balcony will be eye-to-eye with the creature, which will be situated near the elephants in the Museum’s iconic white limestone Stanley Field Hall. Visitors will be able to touch the titanosaur cast and walk underneath it.

“The titanosaur is huge, and it’ll look right at home in Stanley Field Hall,” Senior Exhibitions Project Manager Hilary Hansen said. “It’s a big, majestic space, which will be the perfect backdrop for the world’s largest dinosaur.”

The Stanley Field Hall cast will be the only Patagotitan in the world which visitors will be allowed to touch and only the second to ever be on display.

Meanwhile, Sue the T. Rex, revamped with scientific updates, will relocated, from Stanley Field Hall to the Museum’s most popular permanent exhibition, The Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet, which traces life from its origins to today and is home to a legion of dinosaurs ranging from tiny, birdlike Buitreraptor to 72-foot long Apatosaurus.

A whole new 5,800-square foot gallery will be added to the dinosaur section of Evolving Planet to showcase Sue and tell the story of her life on Earth, through cutting-edge multimedia technology, digital interactives, and fossils discovered alongside Sue which illustrate the world she lived in.

“At 40.5 feet long, she’s the world’s biggest T. Rex, but in that giant hall, people sometimes remark that she’s smaller than they expected,” Hansen said. “By putting her in her own gallery in our Evolving Planet exhibition, she’ll be put into the proper context of her fellow dinosaurs, and she’ll dominate the room.”

“In addition to getting a new space that showcases what an amazing specimen SUE is, we’ll also be able to update the mount to reflect what we’ve learned about tyrannosaurs in the years since we first put her on display,” Associate Curator of Dinosaurs Pete Makovicky said. “It gives us a chance to tell a more complete story scientifically.”

The most dramatic scientific change to Sue will be the addition of her gastraliaÑa set of bones that look like an additional set of ribs stretched across her belly. Gastralia are rarely preserved in tyrannosaurs, and scientists weren’t quite sure how to position them when Sue’s skeleton was first mounted in 2000. In the years since, research on Sue’s gastralia has illuminated their function and placement.

“T. ex had a bulging belly and wasn’t sleek and gazelle-like the way you might think from looking at Sue now without her gastralia,” Makovicky said. “We’ll also update her body stance, so she’ll be walking rather than skulking, her arms will come down a little, and we’ll readjust her wishbone.”

Sue will be removed from her current mount in February 2018 and then unveiled in her new home in the spring of 2019. The titanosaur will go up in less than a month next spring and will be on view starting in late spring 2018. Along with the cast of the titanosaur skeleton, there will also be some of its real bones on display, including an eight-foot thighbone.

Sue’s renovation and the titanosaur’s arrival are possible thanks to the continued support of Ken Griffin, whose gift of $16.5 million to create ground-breaking new dinosaur exhibitions and update Stanley Field Hall is helping take the Museum’s world-class dinosaur experiences to the next level.

Griffin, the founder and CEO of Citadel, set a new standard for the Field’s exhibitions in 2006 with his support for Evolving Planet and is providing funding for the 2018 exhibition Antarctic Dinosaurs, accompanying dinosaur education programs, and updates to Evolving Planet. “The Field Museum has a huge impact on our ability to understand and appreciate dinosaurs. I’m thrilled to partner with such an extraordinary institution to help put natural wonders like SUE and the titanosaur on display for the city of Chicago and its visitors,” Griffin said.

 

Posted 9/1/2017

 
 
 
 

 

 

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