Best of Blanding, part 2: The Dinosaur Museum

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Say “hello!” to my prehistoric friends!

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.

Permian log from San Juan County, UT

Permian log from San Juan County, UT

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.

Allosaurus (Utah state fossil)

Allosaurus (Utah state fossil)

Go Big Green!

Go Big Green!

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.
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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.

Styracosaurus

Styracosaurus

Because – trust me – we plan on going back.

Suchomimus

Suchomimus

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Stop-motion animator extraordinaire, Ray Harryhousen

Stop-motion animator extraordinaire, Ray Harryhousen

Off-limits: the modeler's workshop

Off-limits: the modeler’s workshop

Brontosaurus model from King Kong (1933)

Brontosaurus model from King Kong (1933)

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Lighted sign touting Czerkas' book, available for purchase in the gift shop. (Yes, I bought one.)

Lighted sign touting Czerkas’ book, available for purchase in the gift shop. (Yes, I bought one.)

Feathered raptors. Were some dinosaurs actually flightless birds?

Feathered raptors. Were some dinosaurs actually flightless birds?

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Therizinosaurus

Therizinosaurus

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Didn't have time to watch the videos. Another reason to return!

Didn’t have time to watch the videos. Another reason to return!

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Dino-sploitation?

Dino-sploitation?

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The 2nd Godzilla movie

The 2nd Godzilla movie

Could be read as a redundancy. But what do film audiences care?

Could be read as a redundancy. But what do film audiences care?

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Just another hallway of wonders in the Dinosaur Museum (Edmontosaurus)

Just another hallway of wonders in the Dinosaur Museum (Edmontosaurus)

Stegosaurus

Stegosaurus

Pachycephalosaurus and steg. skulls side-by-side for size comparison

Pachycephalosaurus and stegosaurus skulls side-by-side for size comparison

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More cool stuff. Need more time...

More cool stuff. Need more time…

I didn't even begin to peruse the pen and ink drawings.

I didn’t even begin to peruse the pen and ink drawings.

Gearing up for Gigantis - The Fire Monster

Gearing up for Gigantis – The Fire Monster

I resolve not to forget the time we spent in Blanding!

I resolve not to forget the time we spent in Blanding!

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