Best of Blanding, part 2: The Dinosaur Museum
As paleontology buffs from way back (O.K., maybe not THAT far back!), I can’t tell you how excited Anne and I were to stumble onto this utterly fabulous private museum of dinosauria in the unprepossessing little burg of Blanding, Utah.
We had decamped to Blanding (en route to Moab) after the government shutdown of Capitol Reef National Park and other federally-operated “public lands” (sic) forced us to revert to Plan B in our vacation strategy. This involved getting creative in regards to our tourism, and had already resulted in our personal discovery of a wonderful state park mere hours previously.
To put this experience in proper perspective, I should disclose that I am a past president of the Dallas Paleontological Society and a former film critic for Pegasus News. As such, you can imagine my shock and awe when we more or less accidentally visited this out-of-the-way facility, which is chock full of extraordinary fossils, dinosaur reconstructions, and – the kicker – a treasure trove of dino-related pop culture items, including the best collection of dinosaur movie posters one could hope to find under one roof.
Imagine our shock as we paid our $3.50 entrance fees (!) and began a journey of discovery that opened new vistas of jaw-dropping wonder at every turn. We passed from room to room filled with exhibits, artists’ sketches, meticulously crafted models, and collections of memorabilia that would turn any dinosaur fancier into a puddle of appreciative goo. “WOW!” became a frequently used exclamation, and I’m not one to “WOW” at the drop of a hat.
This museum was founded and is curated by a fellow named Stephen Czerkas, who at one time served as a modeler and special effects wizard for the movies. Presumably, it is through Czerkas’ film industry connections that he was able to obtain the vast collection of movie posters that adorn the halls and rooms of his Dinosaur Museum.
I don’t know if it had to do with our late afternoon arrival time or the off-season date of our visit, but for whatever reason Anne and I had the entire facility all to ourselves. (The phrase “kids in a candy store” comes to mind.) With little more than an hour until closing time, our self-guided tour was by necessity something of a whirlwind. I could easily have spent another hour or two giving closer attention to many of the exhibits – and plan to do just that on our next trip to Blanding.
Because – trust me – we plan on going back.