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Dinosaurs Get Up Close And Personal In COSI's New Permanent Exhibit

COSI wants its new dinosaurs to be in-your-face. When it comes to their Tyrannosaurus rex, they mean that literally.

"It kind of looks like it's looking at you," says COSI president and CEO Frederic Bertley.

It's a big first impression for a big exhibit. On Saturday, dinosaurs will take over COSI in a first-of-its-kind exhibit from the American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery.

Once again, Columbus is being used as a test market - this time, to see if AMNH can find success hosting an exhibit outside of New York City.

Through the partnership, COSI will feature many of AMNH's collection, including interactive specimens and specimens from its world-class collections. Bertley says many of the dinosaurs on display are reproductions of the animals that lived 250 to 45 million years ago.

“Much of what you’ll see in the exhibit are casts, and the reason why is many-fold," Bertley says. "One, the specimens that are actually pulled from out of the ground are literally so valuable, so rare, that you can’t just throw them on display anywhere."

Credit Debbie Holmes / WOSU
COSI president Frederic Bertley stands next to a recreation of a dinosaur in the soon-to-be-opened Dinosaur Gallery.

He says it's rare that paleontologists unearth entire specimens, so scientists instead use projections to estimate a full cast - which is what you'll see in most natural history museums.

Visitors to COSI will be greeted with the T. Rex, one of the most popular types of dinosaurs, which roamed through what is now western North America.  

“What we really wanted to do was just bring the awesomeness, if you will, of dinosaurs to life, in the very first gallery that you see," Bertley says. "Hit you in the face with a giant T. Rex looking at you, greeting you."

The T. Rex area also includes a model of the dinosaur running, which Bertley says is fascinating from a physiological standpoint.

"Really strong legs, massive head, you've already identified the huge teeth - you don't want to put your head in that mouth, voracious eater - but it's got these cute little hands," he says.

Credit Debbie Holmes / WOSU
A sauropod model in the COSI Dinosaur Gallery.

Bertley says that visitors will learn more about the dinosaurs' stories, which scientists continue to discover. 

“What’s fascinating is the whole dinosaur story, of dinosaurs being extinct, has now been usurped and we know that birds are direct descendants from dinosaurs and they’re among us today," Bertley says.

COSI's Dinosaur Gallery includes about 13,000 square feet of exhibit space and will be open for the next three years.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.