TOPEKA, KAN. – The feature attraction of the multi-venue Topeka Dino Days opens Feb. 4 with the SUE the T. rex exhibit at Great Overland Station, 701 N. Kansas Ave. The exhibit runs through May 1. Tickets will be available online beginning Jan. 7. SUE is the most complete, best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered. Great Overland Station is hosting a special exhibition featuring the latest scientific discoveries about this incredible fossil. Visitors will get to explore the sights, sounds, and smells of SUE's world, see casts of real dinosaur fossils, and come face to face with an exact cast of SUE’s skeleton.
The exhibit is part of Topeka Dino Days, a Visit Topeka event that will also include Dinosaurs Alive, animatron dinosaurs at the Topeka Zoo, and the Tiny Titans exhibit at Kansas Children’s Discovery Center where children can sit in a dinosaur next, examine dinosaur eggs and even dress up as a dinosaur. Tiny Titans runs Feb. 24 to May 30. Dates have yet to be set for Dinosaurs Alive.
“We’re especially excited to host this exhibit at Great Overland Station,” said John Bell, recreation supervisor for Old Prairie Town and Great Overland Station. “This will draw people into a beautiful, historic facility and will show Great Overland Station’s potential as a museum not just for railroad history but other exciting exhibits as well.”
Sean Dixon, Visit Topeka president, said of Topeka Dino Days, “We believe it will result in some extraordinary experiences for local families as well as tens of thousands of expected visitors. We can’t wait for families and dinosaur enthusiasts alike to see Topeka put on a show of prehistoric proportions.”
SUE’s fossils are on permanent display at the Field Museum in Chicago, so the traveling exhibition gives people all over the world a chance to experience one of the biggest T. rex specimens ever found. This exhibition features an exact cast of SUE’s skeleton, measuring in at 40 feet from snout to tail and 13 feet tall at the hip. Visitors will be able to see a lot more than just SUE’s skeleton, though—new interactives and digital technologies will highlight the latest scientific discoveries and show people what SUE’s world was like.
To help visualize how SUE would have looked in life, there’s a full-size, fleshed-out replica of a T. rex battling one of its favorite prey: the duck-billed herbivore Edmontosaurus. Visitors will also be able to immerse themselves in SUE’s world. A giant floor-to-ceiling screen shows realistic animations of SUE interacting with other prehistoric animals, and interactive stations give visitors a chance to smell prehistoric plants and even scientists’ best guess of what’s SUE’s breath would have smelled like. The experience also includes a multimedia light show highlighting details of SUE’s skeleton, touchable bronze casts of some of SUE’s bones, and a station where visitors can hear and feel the deep, low rumbling of SUE’s growl.
In addition to the new technologies and interactives that make SUE’s world come alive, this exhibition highlights new scientific discoveries about T. rex in general and SUE in particular. While SUE was first found in 1990, scientists are learning new things about T. rex every day, due in large part to SUE’s incredibly well-preserved bones. In this new traveling exhibition, SUE’s skeleton includes all the latest scientific updates, including an extra set of bones that scientists weren’t quite sure how to position when SUE was first found. These bones, called gastralia, are “belly ribs” that stretched across T. rex’s abdomen and helped it breathe. They make SUE look bigger and more ferocious than ever before.
“We can’t wait to reintroduce SUE to the world,” says Jaap Hoogstraten, the Director of Exhibitions at the Field Museum who oversaw the updates to SUE and the new components of the traveling exhibition. “SUE is the crown jewel of the Field’s collections, and now we’re finally showing them off the way they deserve.”
Shawnee County Parks + Recreation includes nearly 60 miles of trails, 2,696 acres of parks and 320 annual days of sporting activities. In addition, the department offers recreation programs, educational programs and golf. A combination of tax dollars, user fees and private donations enables Shawnee County Parks and Recreation to offer parks, sporting and aquatic facilities with state-of-the art features, and beautiful, nationally recognized gardens.