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

We have had several recent letters to the editor supporting our cause.

We need to keep our plight in the papers. Here are some recent posts that have been giving us visibility in the Cheyenne and Casper papers. The Boomerang does not have an online editorial section, however there are people writing to the editor.

Donations can reopen dino museum

Originally published on July 7, 2009 The ball now is in the court of those who want to keep the Geological Museum open at the University of Wyoming.

It is clear that no one in government -- not UW, which benefits from the outreach that the museum provides; and not the Legislature or Gov. Dave Freudenthal, who are sitting on more money than they know what to do with -- is going to come to the museum's rescue.

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Increase funds for museum

Editor: With the closure of the Dinosaur Museum, the public image of the University of Wyoming has been severely damaged. A world-class museum has been closed to the public and it's outstanding director, fired. The people of Wyoming have been extremely fortunate to have Brent Breithaupt as the curator of the museum for so many years -- he is in the same class of educators as Wilbur and Sam Knight and the many, many University of Wyoming geologists and anthropologists, past and present, who have and still are, contributing so unbelievably much.

Now is the perfect time to increase funding for the museum and its former director from zero to about 200,000 a year. The money is needed, not only to pay personnel, but to continue the collection and restoration of all of the dinosaurs currently being discovered throughout Wyoming. Kids love this stuff and so do professionals, educators, Wyoming residents and tourists from all over the...

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No more donations to university

Editor: I am a University of Wyoming alumni and was saddened to hear about the museum's closing. While earning my degrees, I spent time in the geology building, library and museum.

The UW geology museum is an invaluable asset to UW, the community in Laramie and beyond.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Letters and Address

Hi, everyone.

First, for those of you have had difficulty in locating the address to send your donation, you can mail it to Friends at: PO Box 1752, Laramie, WY 82073, or directly to the Friends account at First Interstate Bank, 221 Ivinson, Laramie, WY, 82070. As a community organization, The Friends does not receive a cut and uses this money strictly for enhancing awareness and funding for the reopening of the museum.

We have had received some rough letters recently, one from a state legislator, another from the president of a regional oil company. The messages are disappointing: a promise not to get in touch with unviersity trustees about the decision to cut an entire scientifically and educationally valuable program; and a claim that while the respondent and company have contributed much money to the university over the years, this has been to other programs and to the general fund, rather than the Geological Museum and that since that respondent has no personal ties to the museum (despite being a CEO in the energy industry), there is no plan for the company to speak out against the closure.

While these words are disheartening, they do not reflect the tone of the visitors to our table at Freedom Has a Birthday; those who have written letters to the editors from an alumni, scientfic, educational, or community perspective; or those of you who have contacted Friends directly via other means.

To those of you who have asked if there is a way you can help, the answer is ABSOLUTELY. The Friends goal is to bring the museum back to life. In the meantime, while the process persists, you can spread the word to others who can contribute, including affected local businesses; donate money to the fund, time to events, and a public voice to the cause.

In response to this last suggestion, I would like to point out that while writing letters to trustees, the president and the provost of the university, and the governor and state legislators is helpful in keeping the cause alive, writing a letter to the editor will carry your voice to a large audience- not only those with whom you disagree about the decision, but those who also believe the museum is a crucial element of our Wyoming academic establishment. These people may in turn be stimulated to write a letter or donate to the fund, until we have succeeded.

Important at this time is the reminder to folks like the state legislator and the oil company executive, that AN ENTIRE PROGRAM BUDGET WAS CUT- a whole program that benefitted annually thousands of unversity students and professors, school groups, local citizens, travelers... While other programs lost employees and funding, which is certainly not forgotten, most were not closed down completely, like the museum was. In the cutting of 45 employees from the university payroll, 3% were the staff of the museum, while far below one percent was the amount of total university funding lost. Eighty-thousand dollars annually is a small budget that kept an important institution alive. We all are asking, of course, why?

But, regardless of the answer to that question, we are on the move; the wheels are turning, we have momentum, and we value the voices of those who have been hurt by the museum's closure. You can help by making your voice heard. No party lines here, just straight up real live people telling it like it is.

We are working on setting up shop, so to speak, at events like the Laramie Farmers Market and Arts in the Park. Do you know of an event that would welcome our presence? Please let us know by leaving a comment here or e-mailing We can't get everywhere right now, but we can keep our profile high and momentum in place.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Friends in the Papers

The Friends of SH Knight Museum group is featured in an article in yesterday's Cheyenne Tribune-Eagle and today's Laramie Boomerang. Bill McCarthy of the Cheyenne paper wrote the article. You can access this at:

Off to Denver. We'll catch you up more soon!

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Thanks to everyone who came out for Freedom Has a Birthday at Washington Park yesterday and who visited Friends to voice your disapproval of the closing of the Geological Museum and your support for reopening. People came from Laramie, other parts of Wyoming, and other states.

We have over 1100 signatures on the petition that began in the museum; we raised nearly $800, with pledges of more when a safe way of doing so that ensures the funds will go to the museum and a director/curator and will not be diverted to some other university program; and about 200 people signed up for more information about how to be involved and help the cause. Most importantly, kids enjoyed dino crafts and voiced their concerns, and adults offered much-valued community feedback. We will update you again as soon as we have further word on the state of the endowment that the University of Wyoming has agreed to establish.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Last Day

The Geological Museum closed at 5PM on Tuesday, June 30, indefinitely. Plenty of people were on hand all day, have been for weeks.

Here is a link to the local paper's article about the final day, and a photo of Dave DeMar at work:

An addition to Kelli's notice that she removed the "Donate" button until our 501c3 status is completed:
You can still donate to the cause, by mailing a check for Friends of the SH Knight Museum to:
PO Box 1752, Laramie, WY 82073 or directly to the bank at:
First Interstate Bank, 221 E Ivinson, Laramie, WY 82070.

Thanks. Remember to visit our table at Freedom Has a Birthday in Washington Park between 18tha nd 21st, Rainbow and Sheridan, this Saturday, July 4, from 10AM to 4PM.

The initial goal of Friends is to raise awareness and funding for reopening the museum. We look forward to meeting you and appreciate your support.