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The 21st Century Library Campaign — Tompkins County Public Library

Ithaca, N.Y. — A major series of “Big Changes” are coming to the Paleontological Research Institution’s Museum of the Earth, and a twist of events means that one of the most exciting elements of those changes will be arriving this week.

“Steggy,” the Stegosaurus, who has been gifted to the Museum of the Earth by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, will be arriving at the Museum’s Dino Lab on Thursday morning—a few months earlier than expected.

There, visitors will be able to see the historically significant sculpture, currently in three pieces, through the entire conservation process, which is expected to last through the summer.

“Steggy,” built by the Milwaukee Papier Mache Works, Inc., was commissioned in 1903 by the United States National Museum, in celebration of the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase, and was unveiled at the St. Louis World’s Fair.

After that, he traveled to Oregon in celebration of the centennial of the Louis and Clark Expedition, and since then, Steggy has been on display at the National Museum of Natural History, in Washington DC.

Here are some photos of Steggy arriving on Thursday:

Steggy has been housed in the national Fossil Hall, formerly the “Hall of Extinct Monsters,” for decades. So much has changed, in fact, that the building’s modern exits are not large enough to remove him. Because of this, experts and a skilled conservator strategically cut the sculpture into three large pieces—which are still too large to be stored in any available facilities in Ithaca.

So now, in a very exciting and educational turn of events, visitors to the Museum of the Earth will have the opportunity to observe, in person or by web cam, the resurrection of Steggy, as he is repaired in place in his new home—the Dino Lab of the Museum of the Earth. Skilled conservators, Lisa Goldberg and Michael Morris, will conduct these repairs.

The Dino Lab itself is also undergoing “Big Changes.” The long awaited early learner renovations, a result of community support to the successful Rock The Future Campaign, are also underway and scheduled to be completed in early summer. The Late Jurassic themed Dino Lab will feature a large, immersive mural by Ithaca artist Mary Beth Ihnken, as well as a “book nook” and a larger-than-life, hands-on Brachiosaurus nest complete with eggs. Visitors can also currently watch the mural being painted.

“Big Changes” are afoot at the Museum of the Earth, and they will impact nearly every exhibit in the Museum over the course of the next two years. Steggy and the early learner upgrades to Dino Lab are just the beginning.

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.