February 15th

Where The Dinosaurs Live Now

We find them everywhere–on our phones, tablets, and computers; on television and movies; in our libraries; and our classrooms. But most of us don’t get our first glimpse of a dinosaur as its fossilized skeletal fragments erode out of a hillside. For many of us, our first encounter with a dinosaur is at the natural history museum.

Smithsonian Insider
Smithsonian Insider

Natural history museums are among the finest institutions ever invented. They are much more than exhibit halls. Museum collections represent the entire biodiversity of our planet, and their active research divisions continue to investigate nature, both past and present. In addition to curating millions of objects that are accessible to the public and to scholars, many museums maintain educational outreach programs of all kinds.

But natural history museums, for all their practicality and admirable practices, are much more than utilitarian–they are portals into the imagination. Where else can you travel around the world and through millennia in just a few steps? Here, dinosaurs take their place as the stars of the Mesozoic. Yet, they are seen as a few fascinating chapters in the much larger history of life on Earth. The animals of today are all descended from creatures that lived long ago. Lifeforms change, but the struggles of life remain constant on this dynamic and bountiful globe.

A trip to the museum can seem like a fun way to spend a day with dino-crazy youngsters. But visiting as an adult allows a person to contemplate their own participation in the progression of life. We are given the privilege of looking up at those fossil skeletons and wondering about where we fit into the story of our universe. It is our insatiable wonder that draws us to the extinct dinosaurs, and the same wonder that drives us to the natural history museum. We crave  connections to the wild and wondrous natural world–connections which our modern, tech-savvy, fast-paced lives have severed. What better place to find your muse than at the museum?

Share photos from your favorite natural history museums (and their dinosaurs) with us on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #TDIDinos.