Happenings Lifestyle

Dinosaurs Arrive in West Hartford through Interactive Exhibit

Watkinson ad 1 2017

A new exhibit at the Children’s Museum in West Hartford, ‘Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds,’ premiered on Feb. 18, 2017.

A young visitor to the Children's Museum's new dinosaur exhibit inspects a fossil. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A young visitor to the Children’s Museum’s new dinosaur exhibit inspects a fossil. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton

The dinosaur exhibit that opened to the public Saturday at The Children’s Museum in West Hartford isn’t filled with reconstructed dinosaur skeletons to be seen and not touched.

The Museum, which caters to preschool and elementary school aged children, has created an interactive exhibit “Dinosaurs in your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds”– which incorporates many hands-on activities and focuses on dinosaurs that were native to the region millions of years ago.

Large graphics created by James Kuether hang on the walls of the new dinosaur exhibit at the Children's Museum in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Large graphics created by James Kuether hang on the walls of the new dinosaur exhibit at the Children’s Museum in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The exhibit has plenty to interest adults as well, many of whom may be surprised to know that plenty of dinosaurs had feathers and quills. Examples of dinosaurs that look very different from the “Jurassic Park” creatures that usually come to mind are reproduced through enormous and vibrant graphic prints created by James Kuether that hang on the walls of the exhibit hall.

The dinosaurs in the exhibit are also local.

“The scenes are reflective, to the best of our knowledge, of what Connecticut, even West Hartford, might have been like millions of years ago,” said Paul Orselli, who designed the exhibit for The Children’s Museum.

Children’s Museum educator Dan O’Dea said that the dinosaurs depicted in the graphics aren’t all the same age and weren’t all in the area at the same time. They could have roamed the area anywhere from 200 to 220 million years ago, which seems like a huge amount of time in human terms, he said.

This fossilized dinosaur track was provided by Dinosaur State Park. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

This fossilized dinosaur track was provided by Dinosaur State Park. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Orselli said that based on the geologic conditions in this area, very few fossilized dinosaur bones have been found in the region. “Lots of tracks but not lots of skeletons,” he said. “In the Connecticut Valley the geology lent itself to capturing fossil footprints.”

In order to come up with visions of what the dinosaurs that roamed this area looked like, the tracks found locally have been compared to tracks found elsewhere to “fill in the blanks,” Orselli said.

The exhibit is educational and interactive, with plenty of “touchable” and hands-on activities for even the youngest children, while at the same time it’s educational for older children and parents or caregivers. It includes bones, other fossils, life-size replicas, and dinosaur-related games and other activities.

Michael Werle, Executive Director of The Children’s Museum, said that through the exhibit, “We also hope to provide a launching pad for children, families and schools to learn more about dinosaurs by visiting other Connecticut dinosaur exhibits.”

Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds had a preview reception for Museum members and special guests on Friday night and opened to the public on Saturday. The exhibit is phase one of an what is planned as an evolving dinosaur exhibit, said Children’s Museum Marketing Coordinator Renee Hartshorn. It was funded in part by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority. Contributions, including some of the items on display, were contributed by Dinosaur State Park, The Discovery Museums of Acton, MA, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, The Center for Integrative Geosciences and the Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut, Dept. of Environmental Earth Science, and Eastern Connecticut State University.

Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford! 

The replica of the petite Scutellosaurus is true-to-size. Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to the Past exhibit. The Children's Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The replica of the petite Scutellosaurus is true-to-size. Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children’s Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Scutellosaurus was smaller than a young child. Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children's Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Scutellosaurus was smaller than a young child. Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children’s Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Talia Dornbus, 3, of West Hartford checks out the Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children's Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Talia Dornbus, 3, of West Hartford checks out the Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children’s Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Exhibit designer Paul Orselli stands next to a cast of an apatosaurus thigh bone. Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children's Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Exhibit designer Paul Orselli stands next to a cast of an apatosaurus thigh bone. Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children’s Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

One of the interactive parts of Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children's Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

One of the interactive parts of Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children’s Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A young visitor makes dinosaur prints in the sand. Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children's Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A young visitor makes dinosaur prints in the sand. Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children’s Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children's Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children’s Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children's Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children’s Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Close-up of a feathery Sinosauropteryx depicted in one of the graphics hanging on the wall. Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children's Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Close-up of a feathery Sinosauropteryx depicted in one of the graphics hanging on the wall. Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children’s Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Batrachopus prints can be made in the sand. Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children's Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Batrachopus prints can be made in the sand. Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children’s Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children's Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children’s Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Exhibit designer Paul Orselli stands next to a classic 'Jurassic Park' dinosaur. Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children's Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Exhibit designer Paul Orselli stands next to a classic ‘Jurassic Park’ dinosaur. Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children’s Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children's Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Dinosaurs in Your Backyard: A Portal to Past Worlds exhibit. The Children’s Museum, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
klaus larsen cube ad
Geico cube david johnson 2017
ct forum breyer ad
Jeff Brand State Farm 2017 cube
kaoud cube

About the author

We-Ha

We-Ha.com is the place to go for the latest information about West Hartford – a town that "has it all"! We-Ha.com is part of and proud of our community, and we bring a hyperlocal focus to news and features about the people, schools, businesses, real estate, sports, restaurants, charitable events, arts, and more. Contact us at: [email protected] or [email protected]

Leave a Comment

Shares
bowh leaderboard 2017 tickets
kaoud leaderboard
state farm leaderboard
keating leaderboard ad
French Cleaners Mobile ad
jp carrol mobile ad