March 27th

1956 – Gorgeous George mounted at Field Museum

On this day in dinosaurs, an icon took center stage at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History. “Gorgeous George”–a Gorgosaurus, which is now classified as Daspletosaurus–held this position of honor in Stanley Field Hall for three decades before making way for the museum’s Brachiosaurus, which would itself make way for Sue the Tyrannosaurus rex. But today is all about George, who still graces the Field Museum’s Evolving Planet exhibit, albeit in a much more anatomically correct pose.

Gorgeous George in Stanley Field Hall / Extinct Monsters-Field Museum Archives

George’s bones were found in 1914 by Barnum Brown and brought to the American Museum of Natural History. In 1955, the Field Museum purchased the dinosaur for the purpose of constructing a dramatic display piece. Museum staff mounted the real bones using a metal armature so that the support structure for the fossils could not be seen. This involved breaking some of the bones, but at the time, this act of desecration didn’t bother the team.  They were after a visual feast, rather than a research specimen.

At 26 feet long and 15 feet tall, Gorgosaurus/Daspletosaurus was an impressive addition to the Field Museum’s central space. The specimen was unveiled with much fanfare in 1956. Stanley Field and Edwin Colbert from the American Museum of Natural History spoke about the dinosaur and it became a beguiling sight for visitors. Though the mount has changed, it continues to inspire awe in its new home on the museum’s second floor.

Do you have pictures with Gorgeous George? Share them with us on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #TDIDinos.