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.
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 http://www.wsgs.uwyo.edu/sales/ or visit the Geological Survey Building located just east of the UW Geological Museum.