Saturday, December 19, 2009

Funding for the Reinvented Museum

If you would like to contribute to the fundraising efforts for the reinvented Geological Museum on the University of Wyoming campus, please send your check to:

UW Foundation
SH Knight Memorial Fund
1200 E. Ivinson
Laramie, WY 82070

You can also contribute online. Go to:

Be sure to note where your gift should go.

Friday, November 6, 2009

UW Announces Donation to S.H. Knight Memorial Fund

Nov. 5, 2009 -- An endowment fund to support the UW Geological Museum has been created, and a generous gift to that fund has been announced.

The $8,000 gift of The Friends of the S.H. Knight Geological Museum, founded in the wake of the museum's closure on June 30, is the latest donation to the fund, bringing the total to $18,000. The nonprofit community benefit organization raised money last summer to raise awareness and funds to reopen the Geological Museum.

"The Friends are excited to be working with the university to reopen a fully operational museum," says Kelli Trujillo, one of the Friends of the S.H. Knight Museum.

Through the creation of the S.H. Knight Memorial Fund, all donations to this fund will be doubled by the State of Wyoming match. UW President Tom Buchanan and the UW Board of Trustees have committed to match all donations to the Knight Memorial Fund up to $750,000. The matching starts when the Knight Memorial Fund reaches $50,000.

An additional gift of $10,000 to the S.H. Knight Memorial Fund was made by John and Susan Masterson, both UW alumni and longtime supporters in memory of his parents, James A. and Mary W. Masterson.

"We're delighted with these initial gifts, and what they will help us accomplish for the museum and the university," Ben Blalock, UW Foundation president, says. "With this fund, anyone can donate to support the museum."

The fund will be used to cover a range of costs for the museum, including staff, operations, maintenance and renovations to the museum as a whole as well as to individual exhibits, equipment and supplies related to the museum's missions of teaching, research, display and public outreach.

"We're grateful to those who took the time to let us know how they felt," Chuck Brown, president of the UW Board of Trustees, says. "Without them, we wouldn't have the resources we now have to find the best potential uses of the museum facility."

The establishment of the S.H. Knight Memorial Fund follows the generous gift of Brainerd "Nip" and Anne Mears earlier this year through the Anne C. and Brainerd Mears, Jr. Excellence Fund for University of Wyoming Geological Museum. They donated $570,000, matched by Wyoming state funds for a total of $1.14 million.

The Mearses referred to their gift as a tribute to the work of "Doc" Knight, who was instrumental in building UW's geology department and who gave his time and work to create the Geological Museum. Upon the designation of their gift the Mearses spoke of the museum's influence on the thousands of people who have visited and enjoyed what it has to offer.

Blalock says the Knight Fund and the Mearses' gift are the foundation of a major fundraising campaign to support the Geological Museum with private funds.

Hand-in-hand with the two funds is the work that's now under way, supervised by Geology and Geophysics Department Head Art Snoke. He leads a committee of UW faculty and administrators that is evaluating the museum and its potential. The result will be a long-term plan for the museum that supports UW's academic mission.

Snoke says the Knight Memorial Fund and the Friends' gift are important steps in achieving self-sustaining private funds for the museum.

"If we are able to raise funds to use all the matching money, we will have $1.5 million in the S.H. Knight Memorial Fund. When this sum is combined with the Mearses' gift, the endowment funds to support the UW Geological Museum will have reached $2.6 million," Snoke says. "In the long term, we hope that even a larger endowment can be built through continued donations from the public and corporations that support the Geological Museum's mission. Such funds could facilitate developing museum displays, renovating the adjacent museum space, and hiring additional staff to carry out the mission of the museum."

These additional goals are now being considered by the task force that's studying the Geological Museum and developing a plan for its future, Snoke says.

The roots of the Geological Museum reach back to 1887, the year the University of Wyoming opened; it was a small natural history museum that consisted of the personal collection of J.D. Conley, a professor who taught a range of courses including geology, astronomy, physics, commercial arithmetic and bookkeeping, among other things.

As UW grew and expanded, so did the museum, its collections and its displays. Wilbur Knight, hired in 1893 as a professor of mining and geology, succeeded Conley as curator of the museum. It was for Knight that the small fossil fish Knightia was named.

Eventually, the collection outgrew its home in the Hall of Language (now Old Main), and most of it found a new one in a wing of the Mechanical Building. When the Hall of Science was completed in 1902, the museum moved there. It stayed there until 1956, when the current structure was built on the east wing of what is now the S.H. Knight Geology Building.

By that time, Knight's son, Samuel Howell Knight, had worked at the university for more than four decades. In that time, he had developed the UW Geology Department into one of the nation's best, and he started the nationally renowned Summer Science Camp -- the camp that brought Nip and Anne Mears to Wyoming. Knight designed the terra cotta bas-relief Stegosaurus and Triceratops panels on the front of the museum, built the copper Tyrannosaurus rex that guards the museum's entrance, and even painted several of the displays inside the museum. He was also responsible for the initial mounting of the Apatosaurus skeleton that is the centerpiece of the museum.

S.H. Knight was celebrated as Wyoming's "Citizen of the Century" in 1999, and his legacy will live on in the fully funded and operational museum that will result from donations to the S. H. Knight Memorial Fund.

To help reach the matching threshold, visit

Museum Friends -- University of Wyoming officials met recently with the Friends of the S.H. Knight Geological Museum to accept an $8,000 gift to support the museum. From left are Geology Department Head Art Snoke; museum friends Kelli Trujillo and Lisa Cox; UW Foundation President Ben Blalock; and museum friend Beth Southwell.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Y'all Come Back

Hi, all. There is a momentary lull in activity surrounding the museum, but please keep coming back to check the blog here because we will have news within a week or so.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thanks to Mears Family

Casper Star-Tribune, September 10, 2009
Being delighted about the recent large donation for the S.H. Knight Geological Museum at the University of Wyoming, I am writing this letter. Dr. Brainerd Mears and his wife, Anne, have enriched the lives of the people of Wyoming by their generosity. I am also grateful to the citizens of the state of Wyoming, by reason the grant of the state of Wyoming in matching funds.
This museum is a tribute to the history of the state of Wyoming, and it will be enjoyed by future generations. Finding and displaying fossils from the state of Wyoming and from the historic past of the world is an integral part of the state's heritage. Wyoming is one of the places where dinosaurs roamed and their skeletal remains have become well known through the museum.
When I was much younger, I studied one summer under Dr. S. H. Knight, who worked hard to establish this museum. He was enthusiastic about his subject, and passed a great deal of knowledge to his students. I especially recall his geological drawings and their accuracy. What a tribute to this great man and the state of Wyoming has been given by this gift.
Thank you for allowing me the privilege of publicly showing my appreciation for this very special museum and the benefactors who have assured its continuance.

Museum Supporters Visit Trustees Meeting

On Thursday. September 10, Jonathan Rader, Beth Southwell, and Lisa Cox attended the public speaking portion of the UWYo Trustees meeting and spoke in support of the geological museum on campus. Rader, a recent grad, gave a personal testimony of his undergraduate research under former curator Brent Breithaupt's mentorship, emphasizing that as a result of his experience, he will be presenting at the upcoming SVP meeting in Bristol, England. Southwell outlined monetary concerns about the way the museum's closing was handled, as well as Breithaupt's particular qualifications and how important internationally-relevant projects had been stopped short because of his firing. She called for a timely return to a fully-operational museum. Cox testified on behalf of the public and the Friends of the SH Knight Geological Museum, who have been continuously ignored by the administration, and urged trustees and President Buchanan to remember their leadership roles at a public, state-funded, land grant university include transparency and accountability to the public served.

An article in the Casper Star-Tribune, linked below, tells more of the story. Following is a link to a letter from Cheyenne from a member of the public also calling for a return to a fully functioning museum, with Breithaupt at the helm.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Casper Star-Tribune Editorial: Two Separate Issues

Star-Tribune Editorial Board

It appears as if the University of Wyoming's S.H. Knight Geological Museum has a future, after all.

But it may not be enough to quell criticism by supporters of the museum who have railed against university officials all summer.

The museum was closed July 1, one of the victims of a 10 percent budget cut at the institution. It lost its entire $80,000 annual budget, including veteran curator Brent Breithaupt's position and two part-time staff members.

After the initial uproar, UW made the misstep of announcing it would reopen the museum part-time with the hiring of a security guard. Supporters viewed it as a meaningless and, in many ways, insulting gesture.

Instead, the facility reopened Aug. 24 with a graduate assistant available to guide visitors. But to some of those who view Breithaupt as synonymous with the museum, nothing short of his reinstatement could ever correct the error of his abrupt dismissal after nearly 30 years on the job.

The latest news on the museum front, however, is encouraging. Longtime UW professor Brainerd Mears and his wife, Anne, started an endowment for the museum with a $570,000 donation. With state matching funds approved by the Legislature to encourage private donations, the endowment will total $1.14 million. It will support general operations, purchase new articles and pay for essential travel expenses.

The fund will also be used to redesign the museum on the Laramie campus. UW Foundation President Ben Blalock said the Mears' gift will be used to ignite major fundraising for the museum.

This is a step in the right direction. For at least a time, the university wasn't at all interested in encouraging private donations to the museum. A June offer by a member of an energy industry association to raise funds for the museum received this e-mail response from UW Provost Myron Allen: "I ... appreciate your willingness to consider soliciting donations that would keep the Geology Museum open. However, I hope you'll consider directing any fundraising initiatives toward other measures -- preferably those that support UW's degree-granting departments.

"We won't hire people into permanent positions using temporary funding, and even if permanent funds became available every dean and department head in the institution can name positions that rank more highly than those lost in the Geology Museum."

Between June and September, that attitude appears to have changed, no doubt in large part to the protests of museum supporters. Some suggested alumni withhold donations to the university until the museum is reopened full-time and Breithaupt is given his position back. That doesn't seem likely to happen.

UW appears to have treated Breithaupt shabbily. He was on a business trip to Switzerland when he learned -- from his family, not the university -- that the museum was closing and his position was one of 45 at UW to be terminated. In the eyes of many people, UW officials may never atone for that mistake. The loss of Breithaupt's expertise is immense.

But the Geological Museum is bigger than any one person, and the new endowment will give it a new life. We hope supporters will be persuaded to set aside their anger at the institution and encourage donations so its existence is never again placed in jeopardy.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What Next?

All of you who have visited the blog or visited with us in person and via e-mail, we would like to thank you for your vocal and continued support of the museum through closure. Because of you, we will have a geological museum again, a unique historical, scientific and educational Wyoming gem on the University of Wyoming campus.

We would especially like to thank the Mears family, who have made such a generous gift to the museum so that the ball can roll in the direction of reinvention. Imagine; finally, after years of talking and wishing, those who visit and use the museum will have one that is even better than before. It's unfortunate that a crisis had to arise in order for the magnitude of importance of the museum to be realized by the upper echelon of university administration, but they finally seem to understand.

We would also like to thank Department of Geology and Geophysics Head Art Snoke for the effort he has expended in concert with Foundation Director Ben Blalock to establish a fund using the Mears gift that will be used exclusively for the museum.

As specifics are yet unavailable regarding the fund, we caution you not to cut a check to the University of Wyoming. You cannot be assured the money will be used for the museum. The Friends of the SH Knight Geological Museum maintains our nonprofit status through the Laramie Community Foundation. This is a safe place for you to send a check; all money received in that account will be applied to the museum once the red tape is removed.

Please make your check payable to: Laramie Community Foundation, Memo: Friends of the SH Knight Geological Museum, 505 S. Third, Suite 100, Laramie, WY 82070.

Remember, a battle was won, but the terms of agreement are not yet secure. We will continue to pursue the details and report back to you.

Additionally, now is a great time for you to let the Friends know: What do you think is important for the museum's future? Paleontologists, geologists, educators, museum specialists, families, all of you who know the importance of the geological museum, know why it is significant and must be revived. Please comment here on this blog post, or send your thoughts in writing to or Friends of the SH Knight Geological Museum, PO Box 1928, Laramie, WY 82073.

The committee convened to reinvent the museum is composed of several people of varied expertise. Your suggestions to the Friends will be shared with that group as we move forward.

Thanks as always for your continued support of the geological museum as we move forward.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Couple gives museum dino-sized donation

The state will match the Laramie couple's $570,000 gift, giving new life to UW's geological museum.

By Bill McCarthy

CHEYENNE -- A retired University of Wyoming geology professor and his wife have donated enough money to give new life to the S.H. Knight Geological Museum.

Brainerd "Nip" and Anne Mears of Laramie contributed $570,000 to establish an endowment to support the UW geological museum.

The long-time university benefactors' latest donation will be matched by the state, creating an endowment of $1.4 million.

"Nip" Mears, a professor emeritus of geology, retired after 40 years with UW. He came to UW in 1949.

Anne Mears is a UW alum.

The couple's support of the museum is a tribute to Samuel H. "Doc" Knight, a legendary geologist and early museum curator who is credited with bringing the UW Department of Geology into national prominence.

"Continuing his legacy, I think, was important to a great many people," Anne Mears said.

The museum closed to the public June 30 as part of an $18.3 million state budget cut that took effect July 1. It reopened part-time Aug. 24 without a curator.

A group called Friends of S.H. Knight Museum has been raising money to reopen the museum full-time with a curator on a sustainable basis.

Members of Friends of S.H. Knight Museum said they are excited about the Mearses' gift and will continue to raise more money.

Friends spokeswoman Lisa Cox said, "I can assure you that the Friends is thrilled the endowment will go forward so those who have been concerned can contribute knowing the money will be used exclusively for the geological museum.

"The public gets their unique scientific, historical and educational treasure back, though the former curator will not be at the helm at this time."

"Friends is very pleased that the Geology Department, and (Geology Professor) Art Snoke specifically, was able to secure this gift for the museum, and we are very hopeful for the future of the museum," said Kelli Trujillo, another active member of Friends.

UW President Tom Buchanan appointed a task force led by Snoke to develop a long-term plan.

The plan will focus on redesigning the museum to bolster the reputation of the Department of Geology and Geophysics, enhance opportunities for training the next generation of Wyoming science teachers and expand its coverage of Earth sciences.

In a news release, Snoke said, "The new museum will maintain all of the aspects that have made it beloved by the people of Wyoming and will expand into the fields of energy and environment."

The Mearses' gift will help to launch a major fundraising drive to support the museum.

"This gift is not the only gift that is expected," UW spokeswoman Jessica Lowell said.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mearses' Gift Bolsters UW Geological Museum's Research and Education Mission

Sept. 3, 2009 -- Long time University of Wyoming benefactors Brainerd "Nip" and Anne Mears of Laramie have contributed $570,000 to establish an endowment to support the UW Geological Museum. Matched by the state of Wyoming, the $1.14 million endowment will elevate the museum's national prominence in geological research and education.

For more:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Montana's News Station Got It Right

Short and to the point, KTVQ's article, linked here, listed the facts of the recent AP release.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Article and Corrections

Here is a link to an article in today's Wyoming Tribune Eagle:

Please note that I have added a couple corrections in the form of a comment, which should appear after the article on the comments board.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Correction on Hours

Here is a correction of the hours listed by the University of Wyoming press release of 8/22 and the Sunday Boomerang article, per Art Snoke, Department Head, Department of Geology and Geophysics:

...article on the front page of the Sunday (8/23), Boomerang lists incorrect information about the opening hours of the UW Geological Museum. The UW Geological Museum will be open TWThF from 1:00 pm-4:00 pm, Sat. 10:00 am-2 pm, and Sunday, noon-4:00 pm. Please note that there are different opening hours for Saturday and Sunday. I realize that the UW News Release of August 22nd titled: "UW Geological Museum Opens Tuesday" also listed incorrect hours for Sunday. We have posted notices on the doors to the UW Geological Museum to inform visitors of the correct opening hours.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Statement and Thanks

First, thanks to the folks at Turtle Rock Coffee for collecting $35 donations for the Friends of the SH Knight Geological Museum effort. You can find a link to Turtle Rock's website on our "Supporting Businesses" sidebar. This has been a preferred location for Friends meetings this summer.

In response to the many questions asked of us with the advent of the fall semester and announcement of part-time museum hours in a Saturday, August 22, university press release, the Friends of the SH Knight Geological Museum issues the following statement:
 University of Wyoming administration decided to close the geological museum on campus effective July 1. A nonprofit community benefit organization, the Friends acknowledges the public’s general disagreement with this decision, expressed in letters to state and university leaders and newspaper editors, signing of petitions, and direct correspondence with the Friends.
 A Saturday, July 18, university press release announcing the decision to reopen the museum part-time with security in place resulted in further outcry from the general public, university alumni and scientific , education, and museum communities through additional letters, editorials, professional statements and participation in an online newspaper survey.
 In direct response to the August 22 press release stating “the UW Foundation provided funding for a part-time security guard to ensure the safety of the collection,” the Friends understands that in the 122 years of existence of the geological museum, those visiting from the university and wider communities had done so for the learning opportunity and that the museum display collections must be protected for the people, not from the people. In addition, presence of a curator during those years enhanced visitors’ interaction with the displays.
 University administration has stated that state budget cuts were the sole factor in the closure of the museum. State block grant funding had provided the museum’s entire $80,000 annual operating budget, including curator and office assistant salaries, utilities and other operating expenses. The museum itself did not have a development director and was prohibited from seeking larger outside financial contributions over the years.
 Despite these constraints, the curator was able to maintain a museum recognized not only locally and across the State of Wyoming, but nationally and internationally as well, as a topnotch scientific, educational and research facility.
 The museum brought uncalculated economic benefit to Laramie and the state, including from tourists all across the country who planned vacations to Wyoming just to see Big Al.
 With the sudden June announcement that the museum would close on July 1, those of the general public and scientific, educational and museum communities who know firsthand the value of the museum have helped bring awareness to the administration of its importance.
 Now that administration has agreed to convene a university group and to allow the Department of Geology and Geophysics to pursue a plan for a fully staffed reopening of the museum in the future, the Friends looks forward positively. We will continue to collect and hold contributions to this effort in our nonprofit account through the Laramie Community Foundation, 505 S. Third Street, Suite 100, Laramie, WY 82070.
 The Friends does not agree with the present part-time solution and has not relinquished monies given the organization to the part-time opening of the museum with a security guard. As we maintain our mission to pursue fully functional status of the museum, we will turn over those funds only to an option in which monies are insured to be used solely for this purpose.
Questions may be directed to

Article in Sunday Boomerang

UW Geological Museum reopens this week

Boomerang Staff Writer

After being closed for nearly two months, the S.H. Knight Geological Museum will reopen its doors to students and the public at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

But things won’t be exactly as they were before: When the museum was overseen by former curator Brent Breithaupt, the facility operated on an $80,000 annual budget which allowed it to be open 40 hours per week. That funding came to UW in the Wyoming Legislature’s block grant of nearly $200 million.

Now, the museum will be open 20 hours per week: from 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays during the academic year.

It is also being funded by monies provided by the University of Wyoming Foundation to the tune of $8,000 per semester, UW Communications Director Jessica Lowell said.

“The plan is to have someone there during those hours (of operation). These were funds that the foundation could spend on anything, so the foundation and (UW Foundation President) Ben Blaylock stepped up and found this money so we could staff it and get it open to the public again,” Lowell said.

The funds provided will pay a part-time security guard to oversee the museum and collections.

The Geological Museum was closed as just one of the many steps that UW took to cut 10 percent — or $18.3 million — from the annual budget at the request of Gov. Dave Freudenthal.

Peter Baumann’s e-mail address is

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Another Saturday Press Release

News Release

UW Geological Museum Opens Tuesday

Aug. 22, 2009 --The University of Wyoming Geological Museum will be open on a part time basis beginning Tuesday, Aug. 25.

The museum hours will be 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays during the 2009-0 academic year. It will be closed Mondays.

The museum is able to open because the UW Foundation provided funding for a part-time security guard to ensure the safety of the collection. UW President Tom Buchanan has thanked the Foundation for its support in securing funding to make the collections accessible for public viewing.

The museum closed June 30 as one of a series of steps taken to meet an $18.3 million state budget cut that took effect July 1.

Posted on Saturday, August 22, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

7th Grader's Petition

The Friends of the S.H. Knight Geological Museum had a V.I.P. stop by the booth at Farmer's Market on Friday, August 21st.

Kyle Gonzales, the 7th Grader who started the petition to "Please reopen the geological museum"; stopped by the booth to say hello. We were able to show him that 1363 individuals, many from out of state as well as out of the country have signed the petition.

We would like to thank everyone that has taken the time to sign the petition and support Kyle in his wish to reopen the museum. The Friends would also like to thank Kyle for his initiative in starting this signature drive and giving the people of Laramie an opportunity to show their support.


All, my laptop crashed last week before I was able to save the database on an external hard drive. I have three letters written and ready to send to people saying thank you for your recent donation to Friends of the SH Knight Geological Museum; unfortunately, I no longer have the addresses for these folks so cannot send them. Therefore, I will thank you all publicly and ask that you e-mail Friends with a mailing address for future reference. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Thank you:
Mr. and Mrs. Burns
Ms. Bahnsen and Kenworthy
Mr. Capozella

A quick reminder that Friends will be set up at the Laramie Farmers Market this afternoon from 3-7 with new t-shirts for sale to show your support of the museum. Stop in and see us!


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Visit the Friends

Friends of SH Knight Geological Museum will be at the Laramie Farmers Market Friday, August 21, from 3-7PM. You can buy a t-shirt to show your support for the museum and talk to Friends with questions and concerns.

We hope to see you on this busy weekend as students return to the university for the fall semester.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Casper-Star Tribune Story: UW needs to admit error

Editor: During the past few months we have followed the public disappointment concerning the closing of the University of Wyoming Geological Museum through the letters to the editor of the Laramie Boomerang. The letters are passionate, heartfelt, and numerous. A large majority of the letters are in favor of maintaining the museum with the guidance, experience, and enthusiasm of Brent Breithaupt.

After weeks of reading the letters and listening to public opinions, we, too, believe that Breithaupt should be at the helm of the museum, a museum that draws students and tourists of all ages and is a unit of learning within a unit of learning.

For more of this story, click on or type the URL below:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Letter in Today's Casper paper


Recently the University of Wyoming president’s outbox has been graced with the news that the Geology Museum will be reopening, part-time and hamstrung, Aug. 24. To many geology or paleontology enthusiasts or those bringing children up in Wyoming, this may be perceived as a desirable response to the myriad petitions, letters to the editor and blog posts decrying the misappropriation of Tom Buchanan’s heavy ax.

This should not be revered as a victory; rather, it is a dire insult. The partial reopening is a direct result of the public response to the Geo Museum’s closure, with funding from the private sources of the UW Foundation, beefed up by donations of protesters putting their money where their mouth is. But this grand reopening will be missing one vital ingredient: curator Brent Breithaupt.

Breithaupt was a year and a half away from early retirement, making this a notable portion of Buchanan’s intended budget savings. Whether this is a consequence of personal vendetta or simply the unfeeling disregard for a contract, other UW employees should be up in arms about the poor treatment of their colleagues. Excepting those with tenure, outrage should follow the simple fact that the rusted scissors of Atropos’ ugly twin sister, the UW Board of Trustees, may find them next.

The cutting of the museum from the UW budget is indicative of a potentially systemic disregard for the inspiration of developing generations. We know the Jackson retreat where the budget cuts were hatched was contracted and nonrefundable; what the administration’s retort fails to acknowledge is that curtailing the administration’s mindset that produces these costs would save vastly more money than closing the museum.

Some advice to those who may still wield some leverage: for graduates of Wyoming high schools, think twice before falling back on UW; at second consideration, you may just manage to make it to the school of your dreams. Wealthy alums that feel indebted to give back to the good ol’ U of Wyo; hold onto it. Tell the tele-representative you’d like to see some changes in the administrative direction this place is taking and be specific. If it is by mail you send your potential contribution, replace the check with a heartfelt essay explaining the amount your envelope would contain if only certain changes were made.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dog Day Afternoon

The Friends of the S.H. Knight Geological Museum was at Dog Day Afternoon at Washington Park from 12:00- 4:00pm today.

We would like to thank all of the supporters who stopped by to chat, made donations and offered to write letters.

We still have T-shirts and wristbands for sale. Our next event will be Farmer's Market on Friday, August 21st.


If you are in or near Laramie, please join us at Dog Days in Washington Park this afternoon (Sunday, August 16). You can buy your new t-shirt there to show your support of the geological museum, and there will be goodies on hand for the kids.

I was just cruising the university website for upcoming events to share in an e-mail newsletter I am responsible for sending twice a week to a huge list of people, and I came across an article from May 29 that many of us have seen, but this is still on the website and it renewed my disappointment- and enthusiasm. Despite all the effort put into this book, and plans for expanding on the world famous Big Al display with more materials in the museum, the entire program was scrapped.

And despite public outcry from visitors, the paleo and educational and museum communities, we will have only a part-time museum when the semester begins, and no one thus far to lead tours or answer questions. We don't even know what the hours of operation will be.

The Friends has suggested a two-year plan to have the museum fully staffed and operational while the Geology Department works on a long-term plan. Despite warnings that this short-term solution would not be accepted, I personally sincerely hope that we will nonetheless approach the people who have the power to make it a reality and not just an idea, and that the public will see a fully functioning museum again sooner than 2 or 3 years down the road.

We can make this happen. See how much we all have done so far to keep the issue alive and the ball rolling. Please continue to show your support. Be at the museum on August 24 en masse. Buy a t-shirt to keep the museum visible. Write another letter to the editor, and to trustees and administrators if you have not yet done so.

Thanks for your support of this scientifically, educationally and historically significant Wyoming institution.

Respectfully, Lisa

On to the article that spurred my words:

Book to Tell Story of Big Al the Allosaurus

May 29, 2009 -- Young readers can learn all about Big Al, the most complete dinosaur ever found in Wyoming, by reading a new book about this Allosaurus who roamed Wyoming 145 million years ago.

"The Story of Big Al: Saving a Dinosaur for the Future" is an illustrated 71-page book released by the University of Wyoming Geological Museum, Wyoming State Geological Survey and the Museum of the Rockies. Copies cost $15 each.

It includes pictures designed especially for this book plus never-before-seen photos of Big Al's excavation, says Brent Breithaupt, UW Geological Museum director.

"This book presents a picture of the life and times of an important dinosaur and walks young readers through every aspect of the dinosaur discovery, collection, research, storage and display," Breithaupt says.

It shows some of the state-of-the-art research techniques done on Big Al and explains how the dinosaur, found on public lands, was saved for future generations by the Bureau of Land Management and a team of paleontologists, students and volunteers.

The long-awaited book has been in production for more than 10 years, says Breithaupt, and comes out 18 years after Big Al was discovered near Shell. Breithaupt and Pat Leiggi were the lead paleontologists in the excavation, made famous when it was featured on the BBC's "Walking with Dinosaurs."

A cast of Big Al can be seen at the UW Geological Museum, and several new Big Al displays are scheduled for this year.

The museum is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

To purchase a copy of "The Story of Big Al: Saving a Dinosaur for the Future," call Matt Friess at (307) 766-2286, go online at or visit the Geological Survey Building located just east of the UW Geological Museum.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Farmers Market Footage

Copy and paste the following to your browser to see the latest from Red State Road Trip on the Geological Museum. Thanks, Chris.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dog Days Afternoon - Sunday August 16

Please stop by our booth at Dog Days Afternoon on Sunday, August 16th at Washington Park. Come out and show your support. Purchase a great shirt or wristband to support the re-opening of a fully reinstated S.H. Knight Geological Museum.

The event is from Noon to 4:00pm.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Show Your Support !!!

The posted items will be for sell at the following events; Dog Day Afternoon, Sunday August 16th from 12:00pm-4:00pm at Washington Park and at Farmer's Market Downtown, Friday August 21st from 3:00pm-7:00pm.

The price for the wristbands are $2.00 each
The prices for the T-Shirts are as follows:
Youth Sizes $12.00
Adult Sizes $15.00
XXL Size $17.00

Sizes available- Youth: small, medium, large and extra large
Adult: x-small, small, medium, large, extra large and XXL

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Final Tally

We just received the final tally on responses to the Casper Star Tribune's recent online poll concerning the fate of the Geological Museum. Here they are:

Here are the final poll results:
Yes, reopen it full time 4,488 votes (76 pct.)
Yes, open it part time 1,221 (21 pct.)
No, close it full time 119 (2 pct.)
Turn it into a skate park 94 (2 pct.)

Community Colleges Cut Spending, But

not one program is cut entirely, unlike what has happened with our only 4 year university.

See the story here:
to find how community colleges across Wyoming are handling state-imposed budget cuts without cutting entire programs.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Letter: Why Wait?

We are still waiting to hear from the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees to explain why the Geology Museum was summarily closed (part-time opening is not the answer.) Here are some points to consider:

1. Although "necessary budget cuts" was given as the reason for the closure, that is obviously not the case because offers from private parties to pay Brent Breithaupt's salary and to help with expenses at the museum were bluntly refused, with no explanation.

2. In the face of considerable public outcry and offers of financial help, according to an Associated Press article in last Sunday's Boomerang, UW President Buchanan, again bluntly stated that "--- Breithaupt isn't being hired back." Why, of the 45 positions eliminated, is only Breithaupt's being singled out for special comment?

3. It becomes increasingly obvious that this is a personal vendetta against the museum, its director, or the geology department itself.

4. This closure, along with other budget cuts, was done in an arrogant manner. Credit cards kept by staff members were cancelled without notice--- causing both embarrassment and financial hardship to all of those whose positions were cancelled. Why? Surely there was time to give at least a short notice of the closures.

5. This treatment of UW personnel will surely make it difficult to attract talented people in the future.

6. Obviously hard work was necessary on the part of the Board of Trustees to cut the budget of an entire universioty in the face of today's economy, but there is a vast difference between down sizing a department or service and closing a museum that is widely recognized for its excellence. The geology museum is an icon not only for UW, but for the city of Laramie and the state of Wyoming, displaying our unique, rich heritage of geology and paleontology. Closing it seems counterproductive, antagonizing both alumni and disappointed visitors, and this closure will have a significant effect on the economy of Laramie and the state. Seeing dinosaurs are (sic) at the top of many visitors' agendas when they visit Wyoming.

7. The University of Wyoming belongs to the people of Wyoming--- not the Board of Trustees. This board owes the people of the state an open accounting of their actions, which has not been forthcoming in this case. Is this board becoming too political? Perhaps the members of this board of trustees should be on our ballots, chosen by popular vote instead of being appointed by the governor.

8. Bottom line--- someone in the University hierarchy has accumulated enough power to force the decision to close the Geology Museum on the people of Wyoming without explanation--- this is unacceptable.

Amy M. Lawrence
UW graduate, BA Journalism, MA Historical Preservation

This letter was printed in today's Laramie Boomerang. We need more. Consider these points and hold leaders to task for a poor decision still unecxplained to the people who live in Wyoming and pay their taxes, and those who pay tuition to attend the University. Write the Board of Trustees, state and local political leaders, President Tom Buchanan, and newspaper editors. Friends of the SH Knight Geological Museum can provide contact lists. E-mail us at

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Story: Take money and rehire curator- Casper Star Aug. 2

Editor: The UW Geology Museum has been a treasure to the University of Wyoming, Wyoming, the United States, and the world for 122 years. For the last 29 years, it has been an outstanding place of knowledge purveyance, excitement, and research under the expert and excellent direction of its curator, Brent Breithaupt. He has the ability to excite students of all ages about science, and to arouse their desire to continue their learning (including current and future UW students). He has kept the museum fun, educational, and growing by acquiring many new exhibits and interpreting them with the most current facts and scientific research. His own outreach has brought much positive admiration and praise to UW from throughout Wyoming and the globe.

Now, one ridiculous decision follows another from the UW administration. The absurdity to cut Dr. Breithaupt's position and the support for the UW Geology Museum is now compounded by the insane not...

For more of this story, click on or type the URL below:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Story: Museum needs its curator, Casper-Star July 29

Editor: In reference to the July 19 front-page story ("Rock lovers rejoice"), I'm afraid the headline writer is somewhat premature. I, for one, am not "rejoicing." On the contrary, I am becoming more and more irate at the actions of the UW administration and the damage they are causing.

The plan to open the museum part-time under a "security guard" is ridiculous and insulting. A museum without a curator is a contradiction in terms. Picture the Denver Museum of Nature and Science without curators or its 1,600 volunteers, open (sometimes) under the supervision of "security guards."

For more of this story, click on or type the URL below:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Closing the museum

Posted in the "Letters to the editor" in the Laramie Boomerang, Tuesday, July 28th.

The recent decision to eliminate the curator position and temporarily close the University of Wyoming Geological Museum is viewed with dismay by the members of the Albany County Museum Coalition, who represent 14 (now 13) Albany County museums and collections open to the public. We strongly urge the university to reconsider this decision, and to search actively for solutions which will keep the Geological Museum fully open with a curator.

Each of our museums has a unique focus and mission, but all have common goals, which are:
- To maintain, safeguard, exhibit, and protect for future generations the artifacts under our care
- To be focal points for tourism through interpretive exhibits, and well-trained staff and volunteers
- To educate visitors about the cultural and natural resources of our area
-To serve as easily accessible resources for the community and visitors on topics in which we have special expertise
- To fulfill our unique missions through programs, service, and outreach

Although we often lack adequate funding, we diligently seek to achieve these goals. The Geological Museum has excelled in all these areas, and draws visitors here from around the world. The University's recent decision indicates a lack of awareness of the need for a museum curator who can give constant attention to environmental conditions, maintenance of artifacts, and preparedness for immediate action in case of disaster.

The UW Geological Museum has been a prominent and renowned example of the University's mission, and we urge the university to restore it to its proper place with a full time curator.

Teresa Sherwood
Albany County Museum
Coalition chair

Closing the museum

This article was featured in "Letters to the editor" in the Laramie Boomerang, Tuesday July 28th.

I came to the University of Wyoming as the secondary science teacher at Prep. What a resource the museum was for Earth science and biology teaching. From the textbook, we walked down the sidewalk to observe the evidence for the big ideas -changing Wyoming environments, evolution, the age of the earth. Before coming to Wyoming, I knew that geology was one of the academic strengths of UW. To Joy and I, the museum is the concrete cornerstone of Wyoming geology where the science and the public interface and we see the evidence for the processes that have shaped our state. It is the first place in Laramie we take our guests.

In this virtual world we live in the Geological Museum represents the effort by our state geologists, from Sam Knight on, to link Wyoming's present with its past- ancient sea beds, volcanoes, fossil fuel formation, the ice age. When one walks into the museum, it is a step from the present into Earth's history. We see ourselves as the most recent characters of the long drama. If the museum is closed, we will be cut off from our past. I took this statement from the Sam Knight Web page. "During his 50 year career with the University of Wyoming Knight earned the nickname 'Mr. Wyoming University'. Knight helped to design and promote the construction of a new geology building and to expand the Geological Museum. Not only did he create an outstanding, nationally recognized Geology Department, but he also promoted the University of Wyoming to the nation and the world." Sam Knight, who was voted Wyoming Citizen of the 20th Century, will roll over in his grave if the museum is closed.

Each day I drive by the new box seats construction at the football stadium. Football has its place. I have had season tickets for thirty years-rarely miss a game. But what is really important to this university? This great science resource has survived much worse economic dilemmas and it would be inexcusable and shortsighted for our generation to close the doors. Where is your thinking? The U.S. scores with third world countries in science.

Dr. Duane Keown, Professor Emeritus, Science Education
Joy Keown, Retired teacher

Story: Bad decision by UW power brokers

Editor: Thank you to all the people of the world who have been writing in support of our wonderful University of Wyoming Geology Museum and its curator, Brent Breithaupt. I would like to add two stories of support.

Sometime in the 1990s the museum came under the hatchet list. When I added my voice to the protest and contacted legislators from across the state, the then-UW president sent me a personal letter threatening my Ph.D. assistantship if I didn't shut up. I protested louder than ever, kept the letter, spoke out at trustees' meetings, helped organize demonstrations and finished my Ph.D. on time.

For more of this story, click on or type the URL below:

Story: Security guard can't do it all

Editor: So, let me get this straight. I can now take my kids to the wonderful Geology Museum in Laramie and have a security guard tell them about the displays?

I appreciate the work the security guards do here at Casper College and the Tate Geological Museum where I work, but as we are trained in our respective jobs, I'd rather not trade jobs with them. Will the security guard be taught about the displays? Trained as a docent? Trained by whom? Will he/she show off the monitor cameras and the locks on the display cabinets? I'm a tad confused.

For more of this story, click on or type the URL below:

Monday, July 27, 2009

More Opportunities for You to Respond

Morning, all. The Casper Star-Tribune survey is still open. It is not too late to go online and answer that one question. Encourage others to do so as well. It's working!

Here is a link to a story in USA Today as well. Take a look and then please comment. You will have to register to comment at USA Today, but it is free and will put the grassroots effort out there nationally again. USA Today reported from afar, via a university official easy to contact. The media needs to know that there is an effort to bring back more, and to clarify their perception of the situation.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


As of 10 p.m. on Sunday, here's what the Casper Star-Tribune Poll numbers show:

Should UW put funds into keeping the Geological Museum open?

Yes, it needs to be open all the time.
(719 Votes, 60%)

Yes, but they were right to open it part-time to save money.
(393 Votes, 33%)

No, they need to close whatever keeps them financially sound.
(55 Votes, 5%)

They should turn the museum into a skate park and make some cash instead.
(24 Votes, 2%)

Thanks you everyone for making your voices heard once again!

Casper Star-Tribune ONLINE SURVEY

All, if you are here, you want the museum to open again (we certainly hope!) Please go to this link at the Casper Star-Tribune and complete the online survey to make your voice heard:


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Thanks to everyone who came to the table yesterday at the Laramie Farmers Market to show support for the museum being reopened to full capacity, with a curator.

Many of you had questions we cannot answer in great detail at this time, as we have not received clarifying communication from the administration at the university. It is not too late to write President Buchanan, trustees, the Geology and Geophysics Department or the Foundation to ask your questions. Additionally, it is never too late to write a letter to the editor and send it to newspapers. Remember, even though you may read letters that state your own wishes and concerns, your personal statement adds more clout to the cause.

You can get a list of contacts by writing us at to request a copy, or visit us next week and in coming weeks at the farmers market and other events.

In the meantime, as we are updated, we will update you here on the blog, by e-mail, or in person at events.

Thanks as always for your support.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Dinosaur Mosaics

Everyone, here is a photo of a "dinosaur mosaic" sculpture created by local artist Jodie Atherton.

Jodie says: “Alaskan Starfish” was created from the field jacket of an Edmontosauraus Hadrosaur humerus found in Bowman County, ND in the Hell Creek Formation. The Hell Creek Formation is a single sedimentary layer formed approximately 65 million years ago when western North Dakota was a semitropical delta of sediments deposited from rivers originating in the Rocky Mountains. This represents the end of the Cretaceous period, a period famous for both the appearance of flowering plants and the mass extinction of dinosaurs. Hell Creek is a particularly interesting formation, for it holds records of this mass extinction. The Edmontosauraus, one of the largest of the Hadrosaurs, was around 43 ft long and weighed over 4 tons.Special thanks to: J-P Cavigelli, Tate Geological Museum, Casper College; N. Dakota Geological Survey Paleontology website

You can visit Jodie's website at and browse her fine artwork. Jodie is offering proceeds from sales of her dinosaur mosaics to the Friends of the SH Knight Geological Museum. Her website is featured on the sidebar of supporting businesses.

Don't forget to visit us at the Farmers Market in Laramie this afternoon!

Story: UW needs more than Paul Blart

Editor: Open letter to UW Trustees and President Tom Buchanan:

Apparently the minds of those in administration at the University of Wyoming continue to be as hollow as the now-closed UW Geological Museum. With the recent announcement that the museum will be reopened part-time and be staffed with a security guard, Buchanan -- or whoever concocted this not-so-brilliant idea -- has shown two things: One, that UW administrators are well aware of the public's disappointment in the museum's closure; and two, that on some level, they are aware that they made a mistake.

For more of this story, click on or type the URL below:

International Society calls for reverse of funding cuts

DEERFIELD, IL (July, 2009) - The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, the organization representing professional vertebrate paleontologists worldwide, has called for a reversal of the decision to close the University Geological Museum in Laramie. In an open letter to the trustees of the University, Prof. Blaire Van Valkenburgh, the president of the Society, has made a strong case for the University of Wyoming to reconsider its decision to close its Geological Museum. She wrote of the Society’s “alarm and dismay at the closing of the display galleries at the ... Museum.”
The Society called the decision to close the museum and terminate exhibit staff “financially shortsighted.” In particular the Society noted that vertebrate paleontologists at institutions like the University of Wyoming are at an advantage when it comes to seeking federal funds because the museum’s exhibits provide a natural conduit for dissemination of their work. Such public engagement with science is an important criterion when federal agencies consider funding research. The closure of the museum will likely negatively impact the ability of geologists at the university to attract federal funds in certain areas.
According to the Society, the relatively low cost required to keep the museum open is far outweighed by the loss to the local and world community if it is allowed to close. Citing the fabulous wealth of fossil vertebrates found in Wyoming, Prof. Van Valkenburgh said that “people, especially children, are fascinated by dinosaurs and other fossil animals, and paleontological displays are a wonderful way to both engage young people in science and promote scientific literacy.”
The museum is well known throughout the world for its dinosaur displays and the prominent role it has played within the scientific community.

About the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
Founded in 1940 by thirty-four paleontologists, the Society now has more than 2,300 members worldwide representing professionals, students, artists, preparators, and others interested in paleontology. It is organized exclusively for educational and scientific purposes, with the object of advancing the science of vertebrate paleontology.

Blaire's open letter was printed in the Boomerang & Casper Star on July 16.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Story: Part-time museum doesn't cut it

Editor: As a University of Wyoming alum, (former) donor, and past student employee of the Geological Museum, I find the latest bit of news about the "reopening of the Geological Museum on a part-time basis" rather disturbing.

This decision obviously is due to the overwhelming pressure that has been placed on the UW administration. Nevertheless, it does not resolve the problem at hand. A museum, whether it be art, historic, or geologic, must be a "permanent institution in the service of society and of its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment, for the purposes of education, study, and enjoyment," as defined by the International Council of Museums.

For more of this story, click on or type the URL below:

Thanks to Local Businesses

Thanks to the following Laramie businesses for their recent contributions to the Friends of the SH Knight Geological Museum:

Green Gold Jade Products, 215 S. Third Street, home of the famous window sitting cats Soxy and BeBe.

The Jeweler, 213 S. Third Street.

The UPS Store, 2405 Grand Ave. Ste. D

Thanks also to Ryan at Brown & Gold for setting us up with some great-looking new museum t-shirts. Keep your eyes open for these kelly green gems so you can own yours soon!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Story: Half a loaf not enough for museum

Originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on July 21, 2009

Some say half a loaf is better than none.

For more of this story, click on or type the URL below:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Under the Umbrella

Everyone, we just got word that Friends of SH Knight Geological Museum has been accepted under the nonprofit umbrella of the Laramie Community Foundation. What does this mean? You have a new address to send contribution checks, if you would like confirmation for tax purposes:

Please make checks payable to:
Laramie Community Foundation
Memo: Friends of the SH Knight Geological Museum
505 S. 3rd Street, Suite 100
Laramie, WY 82070

Thanks to the Laramie Community Foundation! This is a huge help so we can devote more time to our goals.

We maintain our new PO Box 1928, Laramie, WY 82073.


Story: Give private donors a chance to save museum

Star-Tribune Editorial Board The University of Wyoming's decision to reopen its Geological Museum on a part-time basis is only part of a solution to the problem.

UW announced Saturday that it will use private funds from the UW Foundation to hire a security guard, which will allow the museum to open during undetermined hours beginning Aug. 24.

For more of this story, click on or type the URL below:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Where Does the Money Go?

Friends (my gosh, I sound like John McCain! I am not running for President- yet!)

A few weeks ago there was a comment placed on this blog regarding contributions to the Geological Museum for reopening, which reminded people that they can send a check to the Foundation if that is something they have done before in contributing to the University of Wyoming, with a note attached stating the funds are to be used for the museum.

In light of the press release from President Buchanan this past Saturday morning, I feel compelled to warn you that while your check to the Foundation may be placed in an account which pays for the museum, at this time there is absolutely no guarantee that the money will be used in combination with other contributions to reopen the museum as it was, fully operational, with a curator. As the plan currently is to reopen the museum on August 24 part-time, with funding for a security guard, you cannot be certain that your check will be used for anything more than that guard's hourly pay.

On that note, Friends met this afternoon to respond to and strategize around this latest development. We would like to make perfectly clear that all contributions to the Friends of SH Knight Geological Museum are held in a community benefit account and will not be used to fund this temporary situation that is wholly inappropriate to the proper function of a scientifically, educationally and historically significant Wyoming institution.

As declared in our mission statement, we seek to raise awareness and funding in the effort to reopen the museum. "Reopen" refers to a situation in which the museum is fully operational for the use of the university and wider community, in keeping with the message in that statement that the Geology and Geophysics Department will work with the administration to find a permanent funding solution which includes a curator/director.

We thank you for your continued support of a fully functional SH Knight Geological Museum on the University of Wyoming campus, and look forward to hearing from you here, by e-mail, and in your continued writing of letters to editors and leadership around this issue.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Article in Cheyenne paper on "re-opening" of Museum

Here is a link to an article in today's Wyoming Tribune Eagle:

After reading this and "Back from the Dead," please comment. We need to hear from you so we can do our best work toward meeting the goal of the Friends.

Back from the Dead?

...or gasping for air?

Here is a front page article from the Sunday Laramie Boomerang:

Please respond with your comments. We need to hear from you, the public who support the museum, so we can do our best work. It's very easy; just leave a comment, or contact us at Send friends and family who are interested in the future of the museum to this blog post.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Reminder, Free Yoga Class Today with Donation

Join Us at High Plains Pilates Today, Saturday the 18th

Free Yoga Class
All Welcome

Today, Saturday July 18 @ 12 noon
At High Plains Pilates, 411 s. 20th St. Laramie

This is a donation class. Proceeds will help to re open the doors of the world famous U.W. Geological Museum.

Mats and other equipment included. So bring your good will! / 307-760-9105

Farmer's Market

The Friends of the S.H. Knight Geological Museum would like to thank all supporters that took the time to stop by our booth at the Farmer's Market Downtown, Friday July 17th.

We plan on having a presence at the Farmer's Market, if you didn't stop by this time, please look for us and tell your friends!

At this time we have Kelly (Dinosaur Green) Wristbands that read, "Save Big Al" available for $2.00. Wear one, and show your support! Don't let Big Al become extinct again.

Story: Group protests museum's closure-Casper Star-Tribune

Editor: An open letter to the trustees of the University of Wyoming, on behalf of the Executive Committee of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology -- an international scientific organization with over 2,300 members.

I am writing to express alarm and dismay at the closing of the display galleries at the University of Wyoming Geology Museum and the loss of staff lines responsible for its maintenance. Wyoming figures highly in the minds of vertebrate paleontologists from around the country and the world. The exhibits at the UWGM reflect the fabulous wealth of fossil vertebrates found in Wyoming. Dinosaurs and other fossil animals fascinate people, especially children, and paleontological displays are a wonderful way to both engage young people in science and promote scientific literacy.

For more of this story, click on or type the URL below:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Story: Chinese wouldn't close museum- Casper Star-Tribune

Editor: I am in shock that the Wyoming Geological Museum is closed. I had no idea until recently. While in China reading the China Daily newspaper International News section, I ran across what I considered an odd article. The article referenced the University of Wyoming and the work Brent Breithaupt had done with footprints of dinosaurs in the U.S. and similar species in the UK. Next to it was news of North Korea and their nuclear test. The Chinese held the same news worthiness to this article about fossil footprints as North Korean nuclear testing.

I met Brent about 10 years ago while he was doing work in Shell on the fossil footprints and met him again doing volunteer work

For more of this story, click on or type the URL below:

In the Pinedale Roundup- Letter to the Editor

Save UW museum
Posted: Thursday, Jul 16th, 2009

Open letter to the UW trustees and President Tom Buchanan:

I hope you will reconsider your unfortunate decision to close the University of Wyoming’s geological museum.

Shutting the museum amputates one of UW's richest intellectual traditions. The geology museum is nearly as old as the university. By the late 1890s, Professor Wilbur Knight and his assistant Bill Reed had amassed the second-largest collection of Jurassic fossils in the world. But Knight was outflanked by richer institutions. Wyoming dinosaurs dug up in those years still figure prominently at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, the Smithsonian, the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and the Peabody Museum at Yale.

Knight's son and successor at UW, Samuel H. "Doc" Knight, did his best to reverse that trend. In the 1950s, he talked the Carnegie Museum out of the bones of a dinosaur that had been gathering dust for 50 years on its basement shelves. This was an Apatosaurus (what we used to call a Brontosaurus), discovered in 1902 north of Medicine Bow by recent UW graduate Charles Gilmore, then at the Carnegie Museum and soon to start an illustrious career at the Smithsonian.

Since the late 1950s that dinosaur has been the main exhibit at the UW geology museum. Recently it was remounted, with its tail in the air, under the leadership of museum Curator Brent Breithaupt.

Breithaupt continued the tradition of Reed and the Knights. He did important science. His led scientists from other universities and the BLM investigating the dinosaur tracksite at Red Gulch, near Shell, Wyo. He was also instrumental in rescuing for science the skeleton of "Big Al" the Allosaurus, found by a for-profit fossil collector on public land near Shell in 1991. A cast of that dinosaur is also at the museum.

Until his job ended July 1, Breithaupt continued to inform and inspire the general public about paleontology, geology, and science in general. And--no small thing these days--he generated a lot of good press for the university. (See the May 31 Associated Press story in the Casper Star-Tribune about similarities that have emerged between the Red Gulch tracks and tracks found in Scotland.)

Let me suggest it’s not too late to fix this bad mistake.

Tom Rea, author of

Bone Wars: The Excavation and Celebrity of Andrew Carnegie’s Dinosaur

Casper, Wyo.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

UW Geology Museum -Boomerang letter to editior

Exhibits in the museum reflect the wealth of fossil vertebrates found in Wyoming and the research involved.
On behalf of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, I write to express alarm at the closing of the display galleries at the University of Wyoming Geology Museum and the abrupt termination of its staff.

Exhibits at the UWGM reflect the fabulous wealth of fossil vertebrates found in Wyoming and the research undertaken by the world-renowned vertebrate paleontology program at the University of Wyoming (UW). This research is crucial for understanding how life responds to changes in climate over time, and fossil displays are highly effective at engaging public interest in science and combating science illiteracy.

We understand the budgetary limitations faced by the university, but decisions to close the museum and terminate staff are financially shortsighted. All exhibits require constant upkeep; the modest savings created by eliminating staff responsible for this upkeep will generate greater long-term costs in repair and restoration. More crucially, the exhibits reflect research currently under way at UW. Scientists seeking federal research support ( which benefits the whole institution through the generation of overhead) ae required to describe the broader impacts of their research on society as a whole. Scholars at institutions like UW are at an advantage because museum displays provide a natural conduit for dissemination of their work. Through the generation of high-quality exhibits, like those formerly on display in Laramie, the results of paleontological research are made available to everyone. this increases the chances of having highly competitive research funds award to UW faculty. The modest cost of maintaining a display gallery can have a significant financial payoff in the long term.

The university has indicated its willingness to initiate a fundraising campaign to reopen the museum at some future time. This is commendable, but we strongly feel that the campaign may not succeed unless potential donors can see a viable, working museum, filled with excited children learning about the past through fossils of ancient plants and animals of Wyoming and the sight of real scientists doing real science. We urge you to consider reopening the museum as soon as possible, if not full-time, then part-time, to allow it to continue to serve the people of Wyoming and elsewhere.

Blaire Van Valkenburgh, Ph.D.
President, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
Professor, University of California, Los Angeles.

University of Wyoming Geological Museum - Wyoming Cultural Attractions, Laramie - Wyoming Travel and Tourism

University of Wyoming Geological Museum - Wyoming Cultural Attractions, Laramie - Wyoming Travel and Tourism

Shared via AddThis

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

THANKS to supporters!

Hello, all. Please check out the new sidebar, linking you to businesses who have shown support for Friends of the SH Knight Geological Museum.

Our first entry is High Plains Pilates, whose instructor Chris Hume has graciously arranged for a free yoga class this Saturday, the 18th, here in Laramie, with donations to benefit the effort to reopen the museum.

To add your business to the list, please contact us at and let us know how you can help the forward momentum build further.

Thanks, additionally, to all of you who have thus far sent checks to the fund. We are seeing success in raising awareness and funds; thank you.


Story: Museum part of Wyo heritage

Editor: I write in defense of the University of Wyoming's retention of the Geology Museum and its key staff.

Growing up in Laramie, and with our late renown U.S. Geological Survey geologist neighbor across the street, John David Love, who New Yorker Pulitzer Prize winner John McPhee profiled in "Rising from the Plains," I grew up thinking a large part of the state's identity stemmed from its extraordinary geology. As grade schoolers, my sister Vicki and I walked to school with Dad past the museum and its awesome statue of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

For more of this story, click on or type the URL below:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Would You Like To Help "The Friends"?

The Friends of the S.H. Knight Geological Museum Needs Your Help!

4 Things You Can Do

1. Volunteer your time
2. Donate Something for a Silent Auction Fundraiser
3. Give us ideas for fundraising and events
4. Place
on your Facebook or My Space page

Mark Your Calendars

Join "The Friends" at the Dog Day Afternoon to be held in Washington Park on Sunday, August 16th from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm. Plenty of activities and products for your dog! Stop by our booth to get a free dog treat and bring the kids so they can get in on dino-fabulous activities. See you there!

Join Us at High Plains Pilates Saturday the 18th

Free Yoga Class
All Welcome

Saturday July 18 @ 12 noon
At High Plains Pilates, 411 s. 20th St. Laramie

This is a donation class. Proceeds will help to re open the doors of the world famous U.W. Geological Museum.

Mats and other equipment included. So bring your good will! / 307-760-9105

Farmer's Market

Look for our booth this Friday, July 17th at Farmer's Market Downtown!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Casper-Star Tribune Monday, July 13

Closure isn't about money

Editor: I have waited to write this letter hoping that reason and common sense would prevail at the University of Wyoming and our state government, but I can see that those two commodities are in very short supply in both places. We live in a state in which, without the unique geological formations that are here, we would not have the jobs, wealth and abundance that we enjoy. Now we have no geological museum at UW to use for investigating these wonders.

Wyoming is one of only two states that recognize both a state dinosaur and a state fossil; the state dinosaur was selected by the school children of this state in 1994. Can these now grown children visit their only four-year university and view these objects that the state should be so proud of? No!

For more of this story, click on or type the URL below:

Casper-Star Tribune Sunday, July 12

UW can still fix bad mistake

Editor: Open letter to the UW trustees and President Tom Buchanan:

I hope you will reconsider your unfortunate decision to close the University of Wyoming's geological museum.

For more of this story, click on or type the URL below:

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Hi, everyone. Last week we received 112 e-mail addresses at Freedom Has a Birthday in Washington Park. I input those to a contact list and sent out an e-mail to all today. Unfortunately, several of them I appear to have read incorrectly. If you signed up for more information on the 4th of July at Washington Park in Laramie and gave us your e-mail address and did not receive an e-mail today, please let us know at so we can keep in touch.
Respectfully, Lisa

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Short Film

emphasizing the importance of working to get the museum back up and running:

This is directed by Chris Hume, director of Red State Road Trip and Red State Road Trip 2. Chris Hume will also be a guest on my radio show Cognitive Dissonance tonight (Friday July 9th) from 10 to midnight. Tune in to 93.5 KOCA in Laramie, for those of you out of town, I will podcast this show. Email me at if you want the link to stream it online or to download it as a podcast.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Opinion Article by Mark Junge, July 10, 2009, Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Dino's Wyoming Footprints Are Large

Anybody who has kids and grandkids or, for that matter, anybody who knows just a smidgin about children, is aware how crazy they are about dinosaurs. Anybody, that is, except maybe adults whose memories of their childhoods have been buried by layers of sediment..kind of like what happened to the dinosaurs themselves.

One of the biggest dinosaurs of them all was Apatosaurus, also known as Brontosaurus or "Thunder Lizard", a 30-ton giant with a neck and tail each 30 feet long. It was such an impressive beast that in the 1930s Sinclair Oil adopted it as a logo for advertising gasoline and motor oil. Green and endearing, "Dino the Dinosaur" is familiar not only to people who lived through the Great Depression but also their Baby Boomer kids who pulled up to the pumps at Sinclair gas stations. A Sinclair website boasts: "Few trademarks can equal Dino's unique appeal."

Collectors found actual "Dino" bones 130 years ago at Como Bluff, fifty miles north of Laramie. The renowned paleontologist who supervised the collectors was O.C. Marsh, whose first name, "Othniel" seems as ancient as the dinosaurs he discovered. Eight years later the University of Wyoming was established with a small museum. Shortly thereafter dinosaur bones like Dino's were put on display and shipped to places such as the Peabody Museum at Yale, the Smithsonian Institution, the Carnegie Museum at Pittsburgh and to New York's American Museum of Natural History.

During my first visit to the Wyoming campus I had an experience like that of many other Wyomingites. At the north end of "Prexy's Pasture" I had an encounter with a life-sized copper and steel Tyrannosaurus rex guarding the Geological Museum. Why that menacing but impressive statue was there I wasn't sure but at the time I thought it was a pretty neat gimmick. Students used to throw pine cones into its mouth for good luck.

It was much later when I came to understand and appreciate the statue welded and ball-peened by geology professor Sam Knight. If you ask two former Knight students, Al Simpson and his brother Pete, they will testify to the artistic ability of S.H. Knight, the man whose name is attacthed to the UW Geology Building and who created the T. rex statue. They'll tell you how, at a time when there were no PowerPoint presentations, Professor Knight could draw a perfect circle on the blackboard behind him while looking directly at his astounded freshman. They'll tell you about the marvelous three-dimensional multi-colored chalk drawing that he created on the blackboard.

It was even later when I came to understand Wyoming's premiere place in the history of paleontology, when I began to learn that Sam Knight and his father, Wibur, were only two among a group of world famous paleontologists who worked at Wyoming fossil sites like Como Bluff, Fossil Butte and Lance Creek. The bones quarried from those places are scattered and studied all over the planet.

The Geological Museum at the University of Wyoming is special. Not just for its long association with the fascinating history of dinosaur excavations, but because of the kids of all ages who keep coming to it for tours and information about the dinosaurs. But that's over. The museum closed on June 30.

Wouldn't it be fitting if some oil company that likes to use dinosaurs to manufacture and advertise fuel for cars and trucks would rise up from the primordial swamp of corporate America and chip in a few bucks to preserve a world famous museum and its small but dedicated staff? Wouldn't it be something if the staff of the museum would not be erased as easily as a Sam Knight drawing? Dino, who knows how hard it is to be green, would squeal with delight.

Mark Junge is an author and photographer from Cheyenne, Wyoming