Creating this museum exhibit took decades of research, hours of filming and interviews, months of conceptual and graphic design, layout, and production, and as many fossils as we could fit in a gallery as big as some living rooms.
The final step is the installation.
The museum has a team of talented writers, educators, researchers, interpreters, collection managers, and more, all of whom play a critical part in the creation of a new exhibition. We make as much as possible within the building, whether that’s a new film or a life-sized dinosaur costume.
The education team builds public programs and helps the production team develop and design interactive displays and other hands-on elements. The visitor services department innovates exciting new items to sell in the store so people can take a memory home with them. Many of those items are designed by our graphic artists. Everybody plays a part.
But when it comes to building the exhibit, literally hammering, sawing, spreading sand on a dinosaur dig site, and putting the panels on the wall, it’s the exhibits, design, and digital media crew that runs the show. Roger Topp, head of the department, led the conceptual design and project development, but in the last few weeks he’s largely moved on to planning the next exhibit.
Steve Bouta, coordinator of exhibitions & design, is master of the installation. He’s an accomplished craftsman with 35 years of experience and is now working on his final exhibit at the museum. Tamara Martz is the exhibit & graphic designer who crafts creative interpretations of scientific concepts and gives them a clean look. Jonah Wright, the team’s assistant preparator, has a critical eye for detail in finish carpentry and lighting. Sarah Day, our student assistant, can sculpt patches of flood plain or a cliff face out of rocks, sand, glue, and paint.
One of the driving inspirations behind Expedition Alaska: Dinosaurs is the story of museum fieldwork in remote Alaska. Led by earth sciences curator Pat Druckenmiller, the museum has launched more than a dozen expeditions over the last decade. Collection manager Julie Rousseau has helped with logistics for many of them, as well as leading the effort to clean and catalog hundreds of specimens for the museum’s database. Kevin May, paleontologist and museum operations manager, is another familiar face in the field. His curiosity and ingenuity have helped the museum’s team go to great lengths to retrieve a variety of specimens for the collection.
Museum videographers have brought back hours and hours of evidence of this world hidden away in the mud and rock of our backyard. Digital media producer Kelsey Gobroski has helped transform the raw footage into a story that takes viewers on a journey across the state and into the museum’s research labs. Animator Hannah Foss has brought our dino mascot Snaps (get ready to run!) to life on the screen, as well as created original drawings of the dinosaurs that once populated Alaska.
When the exhibit opens on May 23, visitors of all ages will discover the animals and plants of ancient Alaska and understand a world that is long gone, yet still reflected in the world we know today.