Deinstalling a Dinosaur

Misty’s skull

On October 23rd 2022, the conservation team organised a ‘Dino Takedown’ event, giving the public a rare and very special opportunity to watch conservation in action.

‘Misty’ has been a feature of the museum since 2014. The skeleton, consisting of 315 bones and measuring 17 meters long, is composed of real fossil material and plastic sections. While the event gave us an awesome outreach opportunity, it was also the chance to thoroughly document the specimen in preparation for the move to the new site.

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Conservators Nicole Feldman and Anastasia van Gaver removing the right forelimb

Following a labelling guide, kindly written by collections manager Bent Lindow, we were able to label each individual bone identifying the different structures and more importantly left vs right. Detailed photography was also undertaken of the skeleton, which will help immensely with the rearticulation process in 2 years’ time.

Removing the bones from the armature also gave us a more in depth understanding of the metal frame and how the bones were attached. Primary assessments indicate that a new frame will be needed that is gentler to the fossilised bone material and more subtle from a design perspective. We will also need to make some changes to Misty’s position for the new gallery adding another level of complexity.

Although the skeleton was vacuumed before disarticulation the next stage is to solvent clean the bones to remove engrained dirt accumulated over the past 8 years. Once clean, we will also stabilise areas of the fossil that have cracked. Further blog posts will follow this conservation process so give the blog a follow if you want to see that process.

Misty with conservators Abdi Hedayat, Anastasia van Gaver, Nicole Feldman, Zina Fihl and Bethany Palumbo

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