A walk 600 million years back in time

24 01 2014

What promises to be huge not just from a perspective of the size of its exhibits, the Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction exhibition will open this Saturday 25 January 2014 at the ArtScience Museum. The museum at Marina Bay Sands has once again outdone itself in bringing to Singapore an impressively well curated exhibition that provides not just a visual feast, but also one that provides an immersive and stimulating experience.

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Along the walkway.

Along the walkway.

From a media preview of the exhibition yesterday I was privileged to have been invited to, I was transported back not just to the age of the dinosaurs that the exhibition aims to take the visitor to, but also to my days of fascination as a child with the huge creatures that once dominated the earth. With some than 400 fossils and models, the scale of the exhibition is particularly impressive as is the content it provides the visitor.

Exhibits include coprolites - fossilised 'droppings' that provide insights into diets.

Exhibits include coprolites – fossilised ‘droppings’ that provide insights into diets.

Coprolites exhibited strategically outside the washrooms.

Coprolites exhibited strategically outside the washrooms.

Curated by world renowned paleontologist, Dr. Patricia Vickers-Rich, who did admit to not having that childhood fascination with dinosaurs at yesterday’s preview that most would have assumed she would have had, the ArtScience Museum’s exhibition does actually bring together exhibits from the collections of four different exhibitions. The four collections are from the American Museum of Natural History, San Juan National Science Museum, SCI! Expo at Monash University and artist Peter Trusler.

Dr. Patricia Vickers-Rich at the media preview.

Dr. Patricia Vickers-Rich at the media preview.

The exhibition is spread out over eight galleries in the museum’s basement, occupying a floor area of over 3,700 square metres is the largest exhibition there to date. It takes the visitor back not just to the age of the dinosaurs, but also to the dawn of life some 600 million years ago in the Precambrian age. This however is not before the visitor is first given an impression of the scale of the dinosaurs along the walkway to the exhibition’s entrance and being welcomed, by sound and then sight to dinner – as food for a herd of or rather four of their fossils,  upon entry.

Visitors can appreciate the scale of the larger dinosaurs along the walkway to the entrance.

Visitors can appreciate the scale of the larger dinosaurs along the walkway to the entrance.

One from herd of Herrerasaurus that greets visitors at the exhibition's entrance.

One from herd of Herrerasaurus that greets visitors at the exhibition’s entrance.

The Precambrian gallery.

The Precambrian gallery.

Beside the many imposing recreations of dinosaurs and their skeletons spanning the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, the highlight for me was being able to go up close to real fossils – one of which is a newly discovered fossil of an, uncovered in Argentina as recently as in September 2013. Dr Vickers-Rich was keen to also stress that it is rare that a newly discovered fossil such as this, is allowed to be moved out of its country, and visitors to the exhibition will have the privilege of seeing this (as well several other never exhibited fossils) on display for the first time.

The recently dsicovered fossil of the Adeopapposaurs.

The recently dsicovered fossil of the Adeopapposaurs.

Beside the many imposing recreations of dinosaurs and their skeletons spanning the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, the highlight for me was being able to go up close to real fossils – one of which is a newly discovered fossil of an Adeopapposaurs, uncovered in Argentina as recently as in September 2013. Dr Vickers-Rich was keen to also stress that it is rare that a newly discovered fossil such as this, is allowed to be moved out of its country, and visitors to the exhibition will have the privilege of seeing this (as well several other never exhibited fossils) on display for the first time. Visually, I also enjoyed a diorama in the Chapter 5 gallery, Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, of the American Museum of Natural History section – a recreation of the Liaoning forest, which also provides an insight to the various extinction theories.

The Liaoning forest diorama.

The Liaoning forest diorama.

Visitors can also look forward to a host of programmes and activities being held in conjunction with the exhibition including the opportunity to meet and hear from Dr. Patricia Vickers-Rich and other experts over the opening weekend (25-26 January 2014) – see below.

Very small dinosaurs such as this model of the skeleton of a foot long Chaliminia can also be seen.

Very small dinosaurs such as this model of the skeleton of a foot long Chaliminia can also be seen.

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Those intending to visit the exhibition can also download a free mobile application designed by the museum to  deepen the engagement and enhance visitor experience. The ‘Dawn2Extinction’ app is available in English and Simplified Chinese and features augmented reality experiences, animation and interactive games. The app is available for download now on iPhone 4 and 5, iPod touch, and Android phones.

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The exhibition runs from  25 January to 27 July 2014. More information and ticketing details can be found at the ArtScience Museum’s website.

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Opening weekend activities:

Special Guided Tours

(25 and 26 January 2014; 12:30pm, 1.30pm and 4:30pm; beginning at the first gallery of Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction)

Embark on a guided tour to explore the living habits of dinosaurs and be introduced to the extraordinary creatures that roamed the earth. Gain insight into how the paintings of dinosaurs and their surroundings displayed at the exhibition were reconstructed through leveraging scientific evidence.

Exhibition Talk – The Paleontological Camera

(25 January 2014; 2.30pm to 4pm; held at Expression Gallery, Level 4 of ArtScience Museum)

Curator Dr. Patricia Vickers-Rich and artist Peter Trusler talk about their collaboration to bring to life visuals from as far back as 600 million years ago through their “paleontological camera”.

Exhibition Talk – The Origins of Dinosaurs

(25 January 2014; 5.30pm to 6.30pm; held at Expression Gallery, Level 4 of ArtScience Museum)

Learn about the fascinating origins of dinosaurs through an illustrated talk presented by Dr. Oscar Alcober, Director of San

Programmes/Workshops:

Shadow Puppets Alive!

Visitors can try their hands at creating their own Bullockornis or Megalania shadow puppet to bring home.

A day in the life of a Paleontologist

Visitors who aspire to be or wish to understand the work of a paleontologist can take part in a hands-on demonstration. During the demonstration, members of the audience will have numerous opportunities to participate, including handling tools and specimens, cleaning fossils, identifying bones and making a plaster cast from a dinosaur’s footprint

Stop Motion Dinosaur Wipe-out!

Film and dinosaur enthusiasts can create their own stop motion animation based on one of the main theories of mass dinosaur extinction: asteroid impact, climate change or volcanic eruptions.

Dinosaur Tale

Presented by local puppet theatre company, Paper Monkey Theatre, visitors will be taken on a journey of how animal life adapted over 600 million years, presented through magical puppetry.

Sketch-a-fossil

A drawing workshop conducted by Isabelle Desjeux, a scientist turned artist, who brings fossils to life by having visitors draw them in detail and placing the art piece in a pre-historic landscape.

Sculpture Fun

Visitors can try their hands at carving their own sculpted fossil, be it a shell or bone, out of soap to bring home.



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