Last week I was at the Natural History Museum in downtown Los Angeles, and I had the opportunity to check out their new temporary exhibition on display through October 2 Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs.
According to the NHMLA website, a Pterosaur was a flying reptile that lived 66 to 220 million years ago. They ranged in size from a F-16 fighter jet to a teacup. They flew with their fingers, and walked on their wings; what a satisfying way to describe this prehistoric creature!
My experience with Paleontology, like most children of the 90s is limited to a fascination with Jurassic Park and the cartoon movies Land Before Time. On thing that is for sure is that I grew up in a land before dinosaurs had feathers! Nonetheless, I found this exhibition to be enjoyable and approachable to the mild dinosaur enthusiast.
The NHMLA does a great job of picking interesting and accessible temporary exhibitions. The entry way from the corridor off of the main hall has dramatic sine-age and a realistic model of a Pterosaur in flight suspended from the ceiling. The entry space sets the tone, with an amusing overlay of Pterosaur silhouettes and Los Angeles cosmopolitain buildings. What WOULD it be like if they were alive today and flying around Los Angeles? I don’t think I would mind the little ones, but the ones comparable to a whale might force me to not allow my small dog outdoors unsupervised- bare minimum!
This exhibition was a tight and clean one, with complementary colors that accentuate the earth tones of the fossils and specimens. The space was easy to move through, circling around the outside corner of the building. There was plenty of space for children to run and move freely down the center, with content on the sides. The labels were appropriate and easy to read, including in depth information for a more advanced enthusiast, with pull out graphics and highlighted ‘quick facts’ for the more casual browser (such as myself). I appreciated their minimalistic wire mounts that cradled fossil specimens and suspended them out from the wall. The wire blended seamlessly with the backing of the case, and mist have taken some time to craft in such a delicate manner.
There were several interactive elements in the exhibition. Several rocks had noticeable ‘touch me’ signs. Several large microscopes had samples on view, and small stools with touch screens were available. The more obvious stand out feature that the exhibition had were stations where one could simulate being a Pterosaurs, and ‘fly’ through a digital landscape by flapping your arms. Children flocked (haha, flocked!) to this area and spent time directing their dinosaur avatar up and down, through trees, and in and out of water.
Nothing to me seemed particularly risky or innovative in the exhibition, but overall things were tasteful and well done in a classical sense typical of current museums. The overall goal of the exhibit to me, seemed like it was to present new findings about the Pterosaurs and attract those who enjoy learning more about and taking their kids to see dinosaurs. I can say that I see images of Pterosaurs everywhere, yet I seemed to know next to nothing about them. I have yet to have seen or heard of any other exhibitions specific to this variety of reptile.
While at the museum I also went behind the scenes of the Gem and Mineral hall with my Lapidary Club. If you would like to read more about the wonderful treasures we saw, click here to check out the blog post on my club’s site!
If you are interested in checking out the Pterosaur exhibition, click here to be taken to the NHMLA website. Thanks so much for reading, and enjoy the last bit of the summer!
Peace and long life.