‘Dinosaurs in Motion’ exhibit a fantastic fusion of art and engineering

Idaho Falls

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Dinosaurs. These immense creatures have captured the minds of kids of all ages and inspired movies, books, cartoon shows and vivid dreams. And now, you can make them move!

Opening at the Museum of Idaho in Idaho Falls on Friday, the “Dinosaurs in Motion” exhibit is as much a study in engineering and dinosaur anatomy as it is a collection of amazing art. The exhibit features 14 life-size dinosaur skeleton sculptures. The sculptures are rigged hinges, cables and pulleys, allowing museum visitors to interact with and manipulate the dinosaurs.

The dinosaurs are the work of sculptor John Payne, who fused art, science and imagination to fashion recycled metal into giant fossil marionettes. Videos throughout the exhibit highlight Payne’s artistic vision, and interactive play features called “innovation stations” teach the scientific principles Payne had to master to create his works.

“Art, science and engineering each require trial and error, building on mistakes and successes to produce innovation,” said Rod Hanson, the museum’s director of exhibition, in a news release. “John Payne’s creations teach that innovation in a creative, exciting, hands-on approach.”

A triceratops. | Adam Forsgren, EastIdahoNews.com

A parasaurolophus. | Adam Forsgren, EastIdahoNews.com

A diplodocus. | Adam Forsgren, EastIdahoNews.com

“In a way, the dinosaurs are just a medium,” Director of Public Relations Jeff Carr told East Idaho New.com. He said through the sculptures and innovation stations, visitors will learn “how movement and motion and simple machines work within a living body.”

Visitors will also learn a little about the welding techniques and materials Payne put into his sculptures and how he rigged them for movement. They can use levers or steering wheels to move the dinosaurs around. Several of the dinosaurs are manipulated via PlayStation controllers, which kids will love. Other sculptures are connected to motion sensors, allowing them to move independently.

“A lot of exhibits have everything behind glass,” Carr said. “Not only is this exhibit 100 percent interactive, but everything in it is designed to be touched and handled.”

He expects those who check out the exhibit will be wowed by the life-size T-Rex that greets them and by the size and scale of all the other animals.

Writer Adam Forsgren poses next to his metal friend Rex. | Adam Forsgren, EastIdahoNews.com

“But” he says, “we’re also excited for the public to play around and experiment with different scientific disciplines.”

On top of all the life-size metal dinosaur Muppets, visitors to the museum will be greeted by a steampunk dinosaur sculpture by Malad-based artist Tim Little on the museum’s patio. The museum is holding a contest to select a name for this sculpture.

“Dinosaurs in Motion” will run at the Museum of Idaho until April 22. Visit the museum’s website for information on exhibit-related events, admission prices and hours of operation.

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