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During three hectic days from 25 to 27 October 2013 I attended The Munich Show, one of the most important fossil and mineral fairs in the world.

 

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Marienplatz, in the heart of Munich, was home to medieval markets, celebrations, and tournaments in the 12th century.

 

We arrived Munich on 23 October to install the Museum's exhibition at the Mineralientage München (Munich Show), which this year was devoted to gold in celebration of its 50th anniversary. In the case of fossils this translated as golden discoveries in Palaeontology.

 

The Museum contributed by exhibiting some of our most valuable fossils, including the iconic first finding of Tyrannosaurus rex, an incomplete lower jaw with teeth, which is the holotype of Dynamosaurus imperiosus.

 

2013-10-24 11.58.02.jpgVenue for the Museum specimens at the Messegelände, the New Munich Trade Fair Centre.

 

 

Another important fossil from the Museum was Proceratosaurus, a small-sized carnivorous theropod.

 

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Proceratosaurus, theropod from the Middle Jurassic of England.


As well as fossil vertebrates the show included invertebrates, like this slab of Balanocrinus and Palaeocoma from the David Harvey Collection.

 

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Crinoids and brittle star of the David Harvey Collection at the Museum exhibit.

 

The Museum displayed specimens from 'golden palaeontological sites' like the Burgess Shale and Lyme Regis.

 

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Palaeocoma milleri, brittle star, collected by Mary Anning.

 

During the three days I visited all the stands concerning fossils in detail and I saw very striking specimens. Some of them were really uncommon and important scientifically. It was possible to see Edicarian fossils from Russia, really nice slabs of a whole colony of crinoids from Holzmaden or medusae from Solnhofen.

 

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Ediacarian fossils from White Sea, Russia.

 

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Well-preserved medusa Rhizostomites from Solnhofen.

 

On the other hand, this fossil fair has also been a very good place to see fossil fakes or “reconstructed” fossils.

 

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Ammonite that has been half carved.

 

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Eurypterid that has been 90% reconstructed - painted on.

 

The show also included activities for children, such as interactive workshops like fossil splitting and soapstone carving.

 

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A 'caveman' working on cutting and polishing stones.

 

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Little raiders of the lost fossil.

 

We enjoyed not only the fossils but also a big party to celebrate the Golden Jubilee on 25 October, the first day of the show, with a Bavarian orchestra that was playing while we had our dinner with typical dishes and drink from Munich, like my favourites ones: Spaetzle with cheese and German beer.

 

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Bavarian orchestra to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Munich Mineral and Fossil Show.

 

Congratulations to Christoph Keilmann for organising the Munich show!

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Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrragh!  That’s my very accurate impersonation of the Tarbosaurus (pictured below) in our fabulous Age of the Dinosaur exhibition, now open late at After Hours for the very first time.

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The Age of the Dinosaur exhibition is proving extremely popular during the daytime, so for a chance to visit it without fighting for elbow room with our younger visitors, why not book yourself a ticket now? There are some great specimens, such as the beautiful multi-million year old piece of conifer that has turned to opal, and some very impressive animatronic dinosaurs. If nothing else, you can test out how long you last before jumping out of your skin when a dinosaur makes a lunge at you. I’ve just taken the throbbing path around the exhibition again, and the Jurassic forest and Cretaceous desert dinosaur experiences are really immersive. And sometimes pretty scary!  The Camarasaurus in the forest is particularly realistic.

 

You can of course still catch our Sexual Nature exhibition at After Hours, and we have another of our sell-out discussion events in the restaurant, this time all about how to live happily ever after in long-term relationships.

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This Friday kicks off the first of our summer season of After Hours.  Those of you who came to last year’s summer season will remember that we like to give you an al fresco eating and drinking experience out on our Darwin Centre Courtyard terrace (above). We’ve been holding intense discussions over the past weeks about the new menu for summer After Hours, and we have come up with some great new mini picnics for you to pre-order. There’ll be picnic rugs for you to borrow as well.

 

You can go for three tasty menus, including the super healthy option of superfood and fruit salad, or the ‘who cares, it's Friday' option of hot salmon salad and double chocolate cheesecake, and as I am in a long-standing relationship with chocolate cheesecake I think I know which one I will be having. Don’t forget to get your picnic order in by 13.00 on 26 May.

 

iStock_000003907376XSmall.jpgWe’ll have a bar out on the Courtyard terrace, where you can soak up the Mediterranean-style sunshine to go with your Mediterranean chicken (we can guarantee the chicken if not the sunshine – my galoshes are on order just in case) and enjoy a glass of wine or champagne or a chilled beer.

 

We’ll have Pimms by the glass and the jug, and ice cream as an extra indulgence.

 

So with ‘summer time and the living is easy’ playing in our heads (and indeed, in the Central Hall), we look forward to welcoming you this Friday to summer time After Hours.

 

Find out about After Hours

Book your Minic picninc online

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Pretty much everything in the Age of the Dinosaur exhibition, which opened today, is big.

 

Huge graphic timeline panels, vast silhouettes of prehistoric creatures, tall palm-like trees, giant skulls and teeth, and of course, towering animatronic dinosaurs. I feel sure this journey back into a world more than 65 million years old is going to be a big hit through the summer months with visitors young and old.

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Children stare in wonder at the 1.5 tonne Tarbosaurus. The last but certainly not the least, animatronic beast in the Age of the Dinosaur's Jurassic zone. This fearsome T.rex twin lived about 70 million years ago.

But there are many smaller wonders in this exhibition to look out for. Weird-looking bugs and insects nestling in the fern-filled Jurassic swamp and rocky Cretaceous desert. Dinosaur eggs - one is actually hatching - that are guarded by an Oviraptor and Protoceratops. Delicate fossil bones. Smells and sounds bouncing around. And snippets of amazing scientific facts and research that even the most hardcore dino boffins may not be familiar with.

 

Sandy Clark, our Visitor Services manager told me about the opening day which happens to be Good Friday: 'The queues in the morning at the Red Zone's ticket desks were probably the longest we've ever had, so there's a real interest in this exhibition. By about 3pm we had sold out. And then we were busy putting up signs to warn people. We actually sold about 2,000 tickets on the day. We had a few refunds I heard, but this was only because children got too scared and had to leave!'

 

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One of the huge evolutionary graphic timelines you'll encounter as you start your exhibition journey.

The exhibition gallery is arranged into two main immersive habitats, the Cretaceous and the Jurassic zones, with surrounding and central areas that showcase many spectacular specimen displays, images, fact panels and interactive tables and an underwater CGI film.

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Jurassic zone's, animatronic Archaeopteryx, the earliest known bird.

There are six roaring animatronic dinosaurs and one dino-bird. In order of who you'll meet first, they are: Camarasaurus and Archaeopteryx, both in the Jurassic zone; moving into the Cretaceous zone, there's Protoceratops with Velociraptor, who face Gallimimus, and finally round the corner, still in the Cretaceous zone, are Oviraptor and Tarbosaurus.

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Cretaceous zone's Protoceratops guards its eggs from the approaching feathery Velociraptor. Tarbosaurus is a shadowy threat in the distance.

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A spectacular Protoceratops skull. There are about seven dinosaur skulls to examine in the exhibition displays

Among the exhibits, you'll find some great interactive challenges. At the Dig It Up and Examine It tables you can piece together the evidence of how we know what the Jurassic and Cretaceous worlds were like. Also check out the kiosks, pictured below, before you leave for the chance to make an online dinosaur scrapbook. If you keep your ticket you can continue your dinosaur and fossil exploration at home on your computer.

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Examine fossils or create your own dinosaur scrapbook at one of the fun interactive tables

Enjoy it. And Happy Easter. You can book exhibition tickets online

 

Find out more about the Age of the Dinosaur exhibition

 

Oh and I'm kinda chuffed that it's my 100th What's new blog on the same day Age of the Dinosaur opened.

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Last week on Friday evening, at 6.30pm, three extra special and extra enormous visitors arrived at the Museum.

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A team of 8 people with a forklift truck moved the 1.5 tonnes Tarbosaurus into the Museum. © Oli Scarff/ Getty Images

It took three and a half hours to show our guests into the building - nothing compared to their six-week sea voyage from Tokyo though - after which they were quietly ushered through to the Waterhouse Gallery. Here they will wait in the wings while their new prehistoric home is painstakingly created.

 

The three giants, Camarasaurus, Tarbosaurus and Gallimimus, will be the big stars in Age of the Dinosaur exhibition, opening on Good Friday, 22 April.

 

Paul Gallagher, our exhibition Project Manager, explains: 'We had to rig up a temporary lighting system to help illuminate our transport route into the gallery and also construct a scaffold platform on the front steps of the Museum.'

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'I am really impressed by the skin quality and the realism of the dinosaurs up close,' says exhibition Project Manager, Paul Gallagher after inspecting the 1.5 tonnes Tarbosaurus inside the Museum. © Oli Scarff/ Getty Images

 

Now, the installation work in the Waterhouse Gallery begins. Age of the Dinosaur will take visitors back millions of year into the Jurassic and Cretaceous eras. It will feature six life-size animatronic dinosaurs, one animatronic bird, and about 75 specimens and specimen replicas with hundreds of insect, plant and tree models.

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Workmen manoeuvre the Gallimimus dinosaur model into the Museum. © Oli Scarff/ Getty Images

Next time you see these gargantuan beasts, they will be moving in the rocks, trees and watery places of their ancient world. It will be a very different encounter.

 

Read the news story about the animataronic dinosaurs' journey from Japan and arrival at the Museum

Enjoy more pictures of the animatronic dinosaurs arriving here Select the images to enlarge them. © Oli Scarff/ Getty Images

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Carefully unloading the first dinosaur outside the Museum
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Gallimimus emerges from the rear

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Gallimimus braves the bright lights

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Exhibition project manager Paul Gallagher introduces himself to Tarbosaurus

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Unveiling the head of Camarasaurus
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Last week I joined the queue to re-visit our famous giant, moving T. rex in the Dinosaurs Gallery. I felt the buzz of excitement and anticipation as we got closer to the pit and the faraway roars got louder. I've visited T. rex many times, but that roar and the mist from the pit just before you turn the corner, always gets me.

 

Re-live the roar in this short clip of T. rex in action

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Visitors arriving now from all over the world to marvel at the Museum's star attraction won't probably know that our T. rex has recently been absent from the Dinosaurs Gallery for about 5 weeks. This disappearance was due to a serious operation involving a hip replacement, major cosmetic surgery, and some much-needed pit improvements. Well, poor T. rex is after all, about 65 million years old and it's a challenging job frightening Museum visitors day after day.

 

Perhaps it was my imagination, but as I walked past the noticeably swampier-looking pit, I thought I saw a twinkle in those small, ferocious eyes. I'm sure T. rex is glad to be back in business. (In our busiest weeks T.rex can attract up to 50,000 visitors a week.)

 

It was engineers Steve Suttle and Martin Kirkby who carried out the highly skilled replacement of T. rex's strained hip joint parts and neck. These T.rex bits had got very worn through, so the new joints and parts mean smoother motion, all the better to scare us with. Technician Rob Lewenstien did the careful cosmetic surgery on the silicone skin to smooth over cuts.

 

There was also major scenic work done on T. rex's pit by our Display and Conservation team, led by Claire Kelly. The team re-painted and re-defined the ground and water area in the pit and also re-worked the carcass which T. rex sniffs around. Extra foliage, tree stumps and plant stems have been added to get a more authentic swampy habitat. The picture below shows work in progress.

 

Finishing touches came from the Museum's SFX and Media Tech teams who have improved the lighting and the ambient soundtrack to better show off the pit and create a more atmospheric and dramatic display.

 

t.rex-Jesmonite-around-carcass.jpg'The project showed off the wide range of skills in the Museum's in-house production teams,' enthused programme manager, Nick Sainton-Clark, 'and the engineering work was extensive but successful, so we shouldn't have to have this kind of closure for the foreseeable future.'

 

Enjoy the Dinosaur Gallery highlights in our slideshow

 

Learn about Dinosaurs on our website

 

Explore our Dino Directory

 

 

 

Click on the images to enlarge them.