The museum has updated and expanded the previous evolution exhibit, "Life Over Time," to more convincingly make visitors feel as if we are part of the action. Using video, computer animation, giant time lines, written placards, photography and recorded audio, curators found a way to make learning accessible and interesting to multiple intelligences and ages.
Instead of just reading about the Cambrian and Ordovician periods of 500 million years ago, my kids and I stepped into a room of huge curved projection screens with creatures swimming around us. Signs asked us to look for shapes and creatures we recognize. While my young sons were captivated by the video, I explored the amazing collection of fossils from the period. "Evolving Planet," in fact, showcases hundreds of never-before-displayed fossils, many of which are rare or exclusive to the Field Museum.
And, of course, there are the dinosaurs. The new Hall of Dinosaurs is filled with skeletons to look at, information to read, buttons to push and objects to touch. Long-time Field Museum visitors will be happy to know that the famous dinosaur murals painted 80 years ago have been restored and continue to decorate the exhibit. For a younger generation, raised on television, there are multiple monitors with cartoons illustrating the latest scientific theories and findings.
While I had expected the dinosaurs to be the highlight of our visit, my kids were eager to continue along the evolution path to learn about the evolution of mammals, animals and humans. There, they could compare the skeletons of the earliest horses, touch bronze casts of hands and faces of Homo sapiens and learn the differences between mastodons and mammoths.
It has been a long two years for our family without an in-depth dinosaur exhibit. But "Evolving Planet" is worth the wait. Alena Murguia