Feb 6, 2014

Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction @ ArtScience Museum

Media Invite
(Daddy roars)

Many, if not all of us are hugely familiar with dinosaurs. If we didn't grew up being fascinated with these prehistoric animals, then our role as parents will surely open our eyes (and ears) to them thanks to our children. Be it the jaw-dropping documentaries like Walking With Dinosaurs, or the the sight of a purple T-Rex otherwise known as Barney prancing endlessly in our TV set, both our children and us have been exposed to the world of dinosaurs at some point in time.

But how much do we know about them? Really. 

Sure, we all know they existed between 245 million years ago and 65 million years ago. And that they became extinct after that due to some phenomenon that scientists still cannot agree on. End of story? It is kind of more complicated than that actually.

And that is precisely what Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction, the brand new offering from ArtScience Museum hopes to educate, and entertain at the same time.

Billed as the largest dinosaur exhibition in Southeast Asia, Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction brings together an world-renowned exhibitions  – the American Museum of Natural History, San Juan National Science Museum, SCI! Expo at Monash University, and artist Peter Trusler. Curated by paleontologist Dr. Patricia Vickers-Rich, the exhibition runs until 27 July 2014 and promises to take visitors on a unique journey through 600 million years of prehistoric life spanning four time periods.

As the name of the exhibition implies, the set-up of the exhibition weaves visitors through the pre-dinosaurs era right to the fall of these mighty creatures while crossing four time periods - Precambrian, Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous.

The exhibition first begins by plunging visitors into the depths of the ocean, in a period where no dinosaurs existed and only marine invertebrates such as ammonites existed.

The first wave of the dinosaurs began to take shape after that, and visitors will be able to see one of the very first ancestors of the mighty dinosaurs. I had expected to see a huge one at that, so I was rather surprised to see a 40cm reptile in front of me.

The Marasuchus was not a dinosaur, but rather a direct precursor to the dinosaurs. So the 'terrible lizards' have this little fella to thank for their existence then.

One of the things that I loved about this exhibition is that for most of the exhibits, there are both the skeleton and a fully made-up model of the dinosaurs which gave a clearer picture as to how the dinosaurs really looked like.

And these models are accompanied by the actual fossils of the dinosaurs as well, which really enhanced the whole experience for me.

But it is just not all see and no touch throughout the exhibition. Part of the exhibition is also devoted to enabling visitors to learn and explore the behaviour and movement of dinosaurs.

There are numerous activity stations littered throughout where children can investigate the differences between dinosaurs, reptiles and mammals by feeling their different skin types, piecing together dinosaur shapes and investigating what kind of teeth different dinosaurs possessed.

One highlight of the exhibition is one that depicts an epic battle scene between a Lessemsaurus sauropoids (or a four-legged, large herbivorous dinosaur) and a crocodile-like reptile, Fasolasuchus tenax. It is so huge that you will not miss it even if you wanted to.

But the greatest and most interesting part of the exhibition for me was finding out the very creature to whom Man owe our existence to.

Say hello to Chaliminia, a tiny mammal-like reptile that lived alongside dinosaurs. These tiny animals somehow managed to survive the major extinctions and are about as close as one gets to the ancestry mammals. So yes, without them we will not have existed today.

The history of dinosaurs can be divided into three periods, namely the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous, and all three are well-represented in the various galleries that follow.

Of course, it would be criminal if the crowd-favourite Tyrannosaurus Rex was not on display. But besides just admiring its towering statue, children can too find out how the T-Rex would have likely moved back then with a mini T-Rex model.

In addition to the more than 400 fossils and models on display - including some fossils never before seen by the public - the exhibition also stocks over 50 original artworks by Australian artist Trusler, whose paintings reconstruct intriguing new species of dinosaurs from their fossilized remains. And my word, there are incredibly life-like.

As visitors stumble onto a mock-up exhibit of the Liaoning Forest in China, it too signals the impending doom that was to befall the dinosaurs where biodiversity began to hasten.

Then the inevitable happened.

Not all perished though, as visitors will find out which animals survived the mass extinction exactly.

In the final gallery of the exhibition, this is where children can really get numerous of hands-on opportunities to keep them busy.

Children can learn more about dinosaurs through the various discovery booths such as speaking into a microphone to compare the different sounds dinosaurs make, matching the stride of dinosaurs, looking at skin samples through a microscope and even crafting a dinosaur shadow puppet. Oh, and be sure to pick up the Dinosaurs workbook for the children as well! There are three levels to choose from - pre-school, primary and secondary.

The interesting thing about the entire exhibition is that the exhibits are not necessarily confined within the exhibition halls. Other exhibits are scattered throughout the basement gallery, much like this REAL fossilized poop that was found besides the washrooms!

Visitors can also download a free mobile application “ArtScience Museum: Dinosaurs Dawn to Extinction” onto their smartphones for a more personal experience. There are interactive and educational activities that are specially rendered for different segments of the exhibition, including a game called Rex Race, where visitors will be tasked to race their virtual dinosaurs to the museum in the shortest possible time.

Of all the dinosaur exhibitions I have been to, I have to say that the Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction exhibition ranks as the best experience for me thus far. There is just so much to see, do and tons of information to read! So whether you are a 3-year-old who is crazy over dinosaurs, or an 83-year-old looking to fuel yourself with more dino-knowledge, you will hardly be disappointed.

Useful Information

Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction
Venue: ArtScience Museum
Date: 25 Jan - 27 Jul 2014
Time: 10am - 7pm
STANDARD: Adult S$24 | Senior Citizen (65 yrs & above)S$19 | Child (2-12 years) S$12
SINGAPORE RESIDENTS: Adult S$18 | Senior Citizen (65 yrs & above) S$16 | Child (2-12 years) S$11
For advance purchase of tickets, visit HERE.
Website: http://www.marinabaysands.com/museum.html

Activities for Children

Shadow Puppets Alive!
Daily, 10am-6.30pm - except when programmes are conducted in the Creatosaurus Space

Creatosaurus Space in Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction
Complimentary and open to Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction ticket holders.

This fascinating, hands-on demonstration reveals how paleontologists collect, record and identify fossils. There will be plenty of opportunities for audience participation, including handling tools and specimens, washing off the clay of collected fossils, identifying the bones, and making a plaster cast from a dinosaur's footprint.

Stop Motion Dinosaur Wipe-out
Saturdays | 12.30pm-1.45pm
Creatosaurus Space in Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction

Complimentary and open to Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction ticket holders. Up to 30 participants. Register at workshop venue 15 minutes before start of session.

Choose your favourite extinction theory and create your own stop motion animation showing the end of the world for the dinosaurs. Recommended for children aged 6 and over.

Dinosaur Tale 
Sundays, 16 Feb, 2,16 & 30 Mar | 2.30pm, 3pm & 3.30pm (15 mins performances)
Creatosaurus Space in Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction

Complimentary and open to Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction ticket holders.

Let magical puppetry and storytelling take you on a whirlwind journey of how animal life adapted over 600 million years, from sightless sea creatures and fearsome dinosaurs to humans today.

Sundays, 2, 9 & 23 Feb, 9 & 23 Mar | 12.30pm & 1.15pm (45 mins workshops)
Creatosaurus Space in Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction

Complimentary and open to Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction ticket holders. Up to 20 participants. Register at workshop venue 15 minutes before start of session.

Bring fossils to life by drawing them in detail, with artist Isabelle Desjeux. Then make your piece stand out by placing it in a pre-historic landscape, in an optional collage activity. Children under 5 must be accompanied by an adult.

Sculpture Fun
Sundays, 2, 9 & 23 Feb, 9 & 23 Mar | 2.30pm & 3.15pm (45 mins workshops)
Creatosaurus Space in Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction

Complimentary and open to Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction ticket holders. Up to 20 participants. Register at workshop venue 15 minutes before start of session.

What better way to understand a fossil than to feel it in 3D? Carve your own sculpted shell or bone out of soap to take home. Children under the age of 8 require adult supervision.

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1 comment :

konshoe said...

To be able to see fossils up close is truly a rare experience in Singapore. Hope that my sharing in my blog will complement your sharing as well.

Dinosaurs Exhibition @ ArtScience Museum - Part 1

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