JANE exhibit opens at Burpee

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11200682516877.jpg’, ‘Photo provided by Burpee Museum’, ‘Burpee Museum of Natural History unveiled its newest exhibit, "JANE: Diary of a Dinosaur," Wednesday morning, June 29. The exhibit will feature four different chapters of JANE's story.’);

Burpee Museum of Natural History, 737 N. Main St., Rockford, officially unveiled its newest exhibit, “JANE: Diary of a Dinosaur” Wednesday morning, June 29. After 66 million years underground and 10,000 hours of painstaking restoration work, the mysterious and rare dinosaur was finally ready to meet her public.

“Three years ago, we faced a major challenge,” said Allan Carlson, chairman of the Burpee Board of Trustees. “We made a significant dinosaur find—one that made Burpee the envy of our museum colleagues—but we had little knowledge of how to go about determining her identity or preparing her for exhibit. Today, we are about to open a truly spectacular exhibit about JANE—and we’ve done it on time and on budget.”

Lew Crampton, president of Burpee Museum, gave high accolades to the JANE team—in particular to Curator Mike Henderson and Collection Manager Scott Williams, who led the bone preparation team that painstakingly chipped all 145 of JANE’s bones out of their rock matrix and coordinated the work of putting JANE together; Molly Holman; Holli Palmer; Aron Wallace; Sheila Rawlings; Jill Hertzing; and exhibit project manager Barbara Ceiga. Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey said: “Museums and other cultural assets are playing a huge role in sparking economic and commercial development throughout the country, and JANE will certainly do this for Rockford. JANE is a unique attraction, and we’re sure she will captivate the world and bring thousands of visitors to Rockford for many years to come.”

Now fully reconstructed, JANE stands 7.5 feet tall at the hips and 21 feet long from nose to tail-tip. She is a perfect example of the three qualities paleontologists value most: rarity, completeness and quality of preservation. Her fossilized skeleton is in exquisite condition, from her skull containing 6-inch-long razor-sharp teeth and tiny channels for nerves and blood vessels, to her long, powerful legs and graceful tail. The surrounding exhibit is arranged in four “chapters”:

JANE’s World: A flat-screen TV shows the barren landscape where JANE was found. With the press of a button, it transforms into the lush forest of 66 million years ago, and Late Cretaceous creatures appear, along with JANE.

While JANE Lay Buried: A timeline spans the 66 million years from JANE’s life to her discovery, and interactive stations about meteorites, the extinction of dinosaurs, the rise of mammals, the spread of grasslands, and the Ice Age glaciers.

Discovery: Visitors to a replica of Camp Needmore (the expedition’s base camp) can watch “home movies” about JANE’s discovery and excavation, flip through photo albums, see other Montana fossils and pick up a phone to hear Burpee benefactor Jane Solem talk about how she felt about loaning her name to JANE.

Stories Written in JANE’s Bones: The piece d’resistance is a fully restored skeleton of JANE, closing in on a smaller plant-eating dinosaur called Thescelosaurus neglectus. A pterosaur glides by overhead, and a full-grown T. rex lurks in the shadows.

Museum hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for students/children ages 3-17. Admission is free to members and every Wednesday for the public.

From the June 29-July 5, 2005, issue

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