Those Darn Dinosaur Bones Take Up So Much Room!

BLM and the City of Fruita Fund Collections Space at Dinosaur Journey

Summertime is always busy at Dinosaur Journey. This year, we are kicking things into Ultra-High Gear, since High Gear is now in the rear-view mirror. This spring, the Museums of Western Colorado received a ~$50,000 grant from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to enhance our physical capabilities in specimen and artifact preservation. We are thrilled to be given this opportunity to upgrade our collections spaces. This grant will provide new artifact shelving to accommodate additional materials in our BLM archaeology collections at Museum of the West. At Dinosaur Journey, we will be supplementing this grant with matching funds from the City of Fruita to embark on a larger project: creating a new collections space.

The paleontological collections at Dinosaur Journey have been full or near full for a few years now, especially the oversized collections. (Those darn dinosaur bones just take up so much room!) And while an expansion of the Dinosaur Journey Museum is still a goal, we need to create an immediate solution to our lack of space for large fossils. We are so thankful to our partners at the BLM and the City of Fruita for making this solution possible.

buildBut since we are not expanding the building itself, where are we going to come up with the space for additional collections? We had to get a little crafty. Currently, on the southwest corner of the building is a raised platform that serves as a snack area and birthday party area. We will be removing this raised platform and converting the space into a collections annex. This room will be approximately 300 square feet in area and run behind the existing stream table, with an entrance behind the dig pit area. Our current collections room is approximately 1100 square feet in area—this is almost a 30% increase in storage space. Wow!

It is not an easy process to build this room, though. Building the collections annex is not like framing out a closet. For starters, according to national and international museum collections standards, windows are not allowed into collections spaces – for security, temperature, and UV light reasons. Therefore, when we build this room, we will be removing the large windows on the west wall. We will also be removing the exit door next to the window, stairs to the snack area (which will no longer exist), and the walkway behind Alice the Allosaurus skeleton (as it will lead to nowhere). We have been working with an architect, Michael E. Oney, to draw up plans for the addition, as well as performing an exiting study, to ensure escape routes from the building in case of fire are up to code.

We should begin construction soon, Agape Construction Inc. will be performing the work. The Museums of Western Colorado has worked with them in the past with wonderful results. We are anticipating a smooth project. We hope to work quickly through the summer and have construction complete by early-mid August. After construction is complete, we will be moving in the shelving and cabinets. By September, we hope to be moving in the dino bones!

But what about the snack area and birthday parties? Don’t worry, we are not losing them. The vending machine/snack area will be moving into the hallway between the exhibit hall and the gift store, near the restrooms. And the birthday parties will be relocated into the auditorium, where guests can have a quieter spot for cake and presents, while still having access to the museum and exhibit hall for the party. We promise—birthday parties and Dinosaur Journey will never go extinct.

It is going to be a crazy, whirlwind summer, but we are excited to be moving forward and expanding our collections! Building new collections spaces doesn’t happen very often in museums, but they are always needed. We are excited to be able to have this opportunity to better care for our BLM collections and preserve them for future generations of scientists, students, and the world. So please excuse our mess this summer, we’re doing it for SCIENCE!