The Paleo Team: Building the New James and Louise Temerty Galleries of the Age of Dinosaurs
Innovation is the word that comes to mind when I sit down to talk to the team of curators and technicians who are developing the new James and Louise Temerty Galleries of the Age of Dinosaurs. With no dinosaur curator on staff when planning began five years ago, Janet Waddington, assistant curator on the invertebrate (no backbone) side of paleo life, took on the job of gallery coordinator. And the job was big. A number of iconic new dinosaurs had been purchased and many others were being taken out of storage. The previous gallery was not modular, so everything was welded into place, and the skeletons sustained some damage while being removed from their previous exhibits.
To help with the heavy workload of repairing, preparing, and creating two new galleries (the Gallery of the Age of Mammals opens at the same time), two technicians, Kathy David and Pete Fenton, were seconded from the invertebrate side. Quickly they had to get up to speed on vertebrates. They were mentored by Ian Morrison, a vertebrate technician, who taught them how to use specialized vibro tools and mini-sandblasters to clean the skeletons, and different adhesives and fillers to harden fragile bones, while he worked on the complex moulding, casting, and welding.
Kathy removed many skeletons from their old bases. "All their little feet were covered with concrete," she says, so she had to clean, fix broken bones, and consolidate. It would take six weeks to complete a large skeleton. Pete built two displays from scratch. "You don't get a lot of experience with big specimens because there aren't as many of them," he says. "But in no time you learn how to unglue yourself from a camel," he jokes. Brian Iwama, a vertebrate technician, also worked on the specimens and was keeper of the list of jobs.
Another challenge for the team was limited working space. …