National Museum of Ireland Launch Dino-Mite Exhibition – Jurassic Skies

Ever wondered how animals learned to fly? Now you can learn as the National Museum of Ireland, in collaboration with National Museum Wales, have officially launched their new Jurassic Skies exhibition.

Located in the Decorative Arts and History branch of the museum in Collins Barracks, Dublin 7, Jurassic Skies tells the story of the evolution of flight. In doing so, it offers visitors the opportunity to view a number of important, rarely seen fossils from the National Museum of Ireland’s collections.

The focal point of the exhibition is the Archaeopteryx, a small dinosaur with special feathers shaped to catch the wind. It is often thought of as the ‘missing-link’ between dinosaurs and birds.

Only twelve skeletal specimens of Archaeopteryx have ever been found, all coming from the Bavarian town of Solnhofen in southern Germany. These fossils left behind help us to understand the development of feathered flight. The remains of the Archaeopteryx feature the earliest examples of asymmetrical feathers, and feature brain development associated with flight in modern birds.

Speaking about Jurassic Skies, director of the National Museum of Ireland, Lynn Scarff said in a statement: “This exciting exhibition gives audiences an insight into flight and the ‘missing link’ between dinosaurs and birds. It is an opportunity to see how the Archaeopteryx looked and took flight.”

Jurassic Skies features a reconstruction of what Archaeopteryx is believed to have resembled. Mounted on a model Ginkgo tree and chasing a Protolindenia dragonfly, the re-enactment was specially made for Jurassic Skies by artist and model maker Tony Hitchcock.

In support of Jurassic Skies, the National Museum of Ireland’s Education and Outreach department will be offering a number of activities centred on the exhibition. An open day for families will take place in Collins Barracks on Sunday, February 17.

Jurassic Skies curators – Dr Matthew Parkes and Paolo Viscardi – will be on hand at the open day to help budding palaeontologists discover more about when dinosaurs took to the air. On top of this, scientists from the Geological Survey of Ireland will help visitors make their own fossil and there will be an opportunity to learn more about flight and birds from ornithologist Jamie Durrant. No booking is required.

On February 20, Collins Barracks will host a family art workshop, exploring the Jurassic Skies exhibition. Attendees will get a chance to create a creature of their own design. Booking is required, though art materials will be provided.

Meanwhile, adults can avail of the museum’s Culture Club taking place February 22. The event invites attendees to explore and enjoy the building’s collections through a series of specially arranged guided tours and activities in the company of Museum staff – this month including Parkes and Viscardi – followed by ‘Tea & Chat’ and an opportunity to mingle. Again, booking is required.

David Anderson, Director General of National Museum Wales said: “I welcome this opportunity to share our exhibition on flying dinosaurs with the National Museum of Ireland. It is a collaborative effort by teams from both museums and something we intend to develop further in terms of partnership.”

Meanwhile, Chair of the Board of the National Museum of Ireland, Catherine Heaney, added: “Collaboration is a central theme of the museum’s strategy.  During a time, when Brexit could potentially put borders and barriers between Ireland and Wales, this initiative of a joint exhibition shows that cultural ties can continue to flourish regardless”.

The National Museum of Ireland is open Tuesday – Saturday from 10.00am – 5.00pm and on Sundays and Mondays between 1.00pm and 5.00pm.  Admission to the museum and its exhibitions is free.

Speaking about this, Scarff said: “With the National Museum of Ireland now open seven days a week, it’s a terrific opportunity – over the next two months – to see a fascinating element of natural history come alive.”

Jurassic Skies will run throughout February and up until March 24, 2019.  Visit the museum’s site for details of ongoing events/activities.

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