Dinosaur era squeezes into Discovery Museum

Posted: September 17, 2013

The Winchester Star

Dennis Hudson of Shockey Companies uses leverage Monday morning to help move the head of a Triceratops replica into the future Shenadoah Valley Discovery Museum on Cork Street. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)
Nathan Irvin of Patton’s Masonry blocks Cork Street with a forklift Monday as he moves one of several crates containing parts of a replica of a Triceratops into the museum’s future home.

WINCHESTER — “It’s not every day a dinosaur gets delivered to Winchester,” said Mary Braun, executive director of the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum.

Not just any dinosaur, but a three-horned Triceratops that briefly blocked traffic as large cases were unloaded at the museum’s future home at 19 W. Cork St.

Made from polymer resin by Canadian company RCI, the Triceratops will be the highlight of an enlarged paleontology exhibit in the museum’s new location, which is slated to open in the spring.

The model is 9 feet tall, 21 feet long and tips the scales at a weight in excess of 25,000 pounds, Braun said.

That’s less than the six to 13 tons a real Triceratops would have weighed, but still heavy enough that the head section cracked the dolly on which it was sitting Monday morning.

Triceratops, herbivore, lived between 65 million and 68 million years ago. The model is a replica of one found in the badlands of eastern Montana that was extracted from 65-million-year-old rocks.

Shortly after that dinosaur lived, a large asteroid crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off Yucatan and precipitated a climate change that may have contributed to the demise of all the dinosaurs.

The model, which will anchor an expanded paleontology area on the third floor of the new building, cost more than $50,000, Braun said.

“It’s priceless. It is so cool, with that horn,” she added. “So unique.”

The third floor will also be home to the museum’s “creator-in-residence,” a science kitchen and two classrooms.

The 20,000 square feet of space at the new site — almost five times the space at the museum’s existing location at 54 S. Loudoun St. — also allows the museum to expand other areas. Braun said the Winchester Medical Foundation has given the museum a retired ambulance for its “Health Works” medical section.

“Kids will learn first aid,” Braun said, with the ambulance as a backdrop on the first floor.

The second floor will feature a watershed exhibit that teaches children about the water cycle that provides most of the drinking water for the Shenandoah Valley.

Also on the second floor will be the popular Apple Packing Shed, which will be expanded.

“It is all about simple machines,” Braun said, and very popular with the youngsters.

Even the new museum’s roof will become a classroom, with exhibits on gardening, landscaping, solar power and astronomy.

The museum is still working to raise about $1.2 million to complete the more than $4.1 million cost of its new home.

Its goal is to provide educational opportunities for children. It has served more than 500,000 visitors since it opened in 1996.

Museum hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.

For more information, call 540-722-2020 or go online at discoverymuseum.net.

— Contact Val Van Meter at vvanmeter@winchesterstar.com