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About the Dino Pit


Bronze mammoth rib cage

The Dino Pit is an outdoor paleontology exhibit, built for permanent display at the Austin Nature and Science Center (ANSC) located in Zilker Park. The project was developed and built through a collaborative effort of the Austin Nature and Science Center, The University of Texas at Austin´s Texas Memorial Museum, the Austin Community Foundation, and the architectural firm of Graeber, Simmons & Cowen, which also served as project manager. The exhibit is designed to instruct visitors about paleontology through hands-on educational experience.

Artist John Maisano was instrumental in the development and completion of the Dino Pit project, working to transform a large area at ANSC into an educational dig site for finding fossil casts.  Maisano modeled the casts using many of the important and unique specimens from the collections of the Texas Memorial Museum.  He created an 8' x 6' mammoth rib cage cast in bronze, for the children’s entrance to the site, as well as 19 oil paintings depicting the creatures the children will find as they explore the pit.

Digging sites at the Dino PitOther features of the exhibit include dinosaur trackways, a field collection display (highlighting fossils found at the 301 Congress Avenue construction site several years ago), and an observation deck. The exhibit is incorporated into the visitor programs currently offered at ANSC including youth programs, school field trips, camps, birthday parties, adult workshops and teacher training.

“The Dino Pit will help children experience the joy of discovery,” says Sarah Butler, who serves as honorary chair of the project. “It will teach respect for natural science as well as scientific principles for determining factual information.”

Children digging for fossils at the Dino Pit“Children get to learn about science hands on, and that is very exciting,” says Texas Memorial Museum´s Director, Ed Theriot. “It's wonderful to see the City of Austin and The University of Texas in partnership on this. We are particularly fortunate to have backers such as Ernest and Sarah Butler -- their vision has been instrumental.”

At 10:00 am on March 22, 2002, Mayor Gus Garcia, The University of Texas at Austin´s President Larry Faulkner and Honorary Chairwoman Sarah Butler broke ground on the Dino Pit project.



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