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“It is truly gratifying to me to know that leaders in our community see this expansion just as we do—
as the creation of a first-day attraction for Pittsburgh.”

- Bill DeWalt, Director































































Exhibit Update:
Placing Dinosaurs in Their World
The world’s premier home for dinosaurs requires space and time.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History Director Bill DeWalt says that creating the proper space for the new Dinosaurs in Their World exhibit “is taking a great deal of time and thought to ensure that we have the proper phasing and best locations for all that we have to move.”

The museum has re-examined the best uses of space for the public areas, the collections, and research areas, and the “back of the house” operations. The goal is to create more public space within the historic building, better protect the collections, and, where possible, move business operations out of the building.

To make room for Dinosaurs in Their World, it is imperative to move the Natural History Library to a location where it will serve as “the physical and philosophical core of the research and collections areas,” says DeWalt. The most likely location for the library is in the rear of the first floor.

An artistic vision of the future Dinosaurs in Their World exhibit is captured in models and illustrations at the entrance to the current hall.

The museum will also use this period of change to upgrade its scientific collections and research areas. The Invertebrate Zoology (bugs) and Botany collections will be air-conditioned and collections will receive better protection. The museum is also applying for a separate grant to provide climate control for the fossils stored in the basement to protect these invaluable specimens as the national treasures that they are.

Looking ahead, DeWalt says that in the spring of 2004 the architect for the new hall will be selected, and significant construction will begin in early 2005. Time will be needed not only for construction and for moving departments, but also for dismantling the famous dinosaur specimens, and then reconstructing them according to modern scientific standards. By some time in 2007—on the 100th anniversary of expansion of the museum into the present building—the newly constructed atrium for the dinosaurs is expected to open. The renovated existing Dinosaur Hall will probably not open until late 2008 or early 2009.

“ It is truly gratifying to me to know that leaders in our community see this expansion just as we do—as the creation of a first-day attraction for Pittsburgh,” says DeWalt. “These leaders understand that the Museum of Natural History is a world treasure. They want to invest in a great exhibit that reflects the world-class standards of our science.”

Dinosaurs in Their World Funding Tops $25 Million
October 2003 was a big month for the Dinosaurs in Their World project, starting with the announcement by Eden Hall Foundation that it would give a lead gift of $5 million in support of the creation of the world’s premier dinosaur exhibits.

The Heinz Endowment soon followed with an announcement of its gift of $4 million, which is the first but not the last it plans to give to the Carnegie Museums Campaign. “The educational, economic development, and cultural benefits of this project are incredibly far-reaching,” says Maxwell King, president of The Heinz Endowments, of the Dinosaur Hall project. “Pittsburgh has the opportunity to create something that is truly one-of-a-kind, and that's exciting.”

Another $500,000 gift from the Walton/Whetzel Family, and an anonymous gift of $250,000 have brought Carnegie Museum of Natural History ever closer to its fundraising goal of $35 million for creating Dinosaurs in Their World.

February 7 – August 15, 2004

Allan Houser (1914-1994) has been credited with reviving the art of stone sculpture in the United States. In 1992 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President George Bush, becoming the first Native American to receive the nation’s highest honor for artists and joining the ranks of luminaries such as Georgia O'Keeffe, Marian Anderson, Ella Fitzgerald, and Aaron Copeland.

Monumental, intimate, and steeped in history, his sculptures have been internationally acclaimed and are included in collections of the Smithsonian Institution, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the White House, and the British Royal Collection. In 1985 his monumental bronze Offering of the Sacred Pipe was dedicated at the United Nations building in New York City.

Houser’s first commission for a sculpture in 1949 came from the Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas—a memorial in stone of Indian servicemen killed in World War II. He later received a Guggenheim grant in sculpture and painting. "When I won my Guggenheim fellowship, I said I wanted to become one of the best—whether painter or sculptor—in the world. That's what my efforts are going to be, whether I get there or not," Houser said.

A Chiricahua Apache, Houser was born on his parents' government-grant farm in Apache, Oklahoma in 1914, as the tribe was emerging from 27 years in forced exile from their native mountains in the Southwest. His father, Sam Haozous, was captured with Geronimo in 1886, and later served as the great chief's interpreter. Allan grew up listening to his father play the drum, sing medicine songs, and tell the stories of Geronimo.

The Sculptures of Allan Houser features bronze and stone sculptures, and original drawings and sketches. A feature of the exhibit is the thematic development of Houser’s bronze portrayals of the Chiricahua Apache Mountain Spirit Dancer. Dominating the installation is a spectacular monumental version of Spirit of the Wind (1992) with its soaring abstract atmospheric forms.

The exhibit is made possible by an anonymous donor and the Houser Foundation.


Tim Pearce, Mollusk Specialist
Finding clues to the environment in snails, mussels and slugs

Tim Pearce, assistant curator of mollusks at Carnegie Museum of Natural History, is one of the leading specialists in the world on mollusks, and Carnegie Museum of Natural History has one of the most important mollusk collections in the United States.

Mollusks such as clams and snails, as well as soft-bodied animals like slugs, are key animals in the world-wide food chain, as well as critical indicators of environmental conditions. They are among the first to give warning signs of water pollution and degradation, and of the reverse—the renewed health in streams, wetlands, marshes, ponds, and lakes. Their return to the rivers around Pittsburgh is a success story. Historically, the freshwater mussels of the Upper Ohio watershed were used commercially for button making, as well as collected for their beauty.

Tim Pearce (right) shows a land snail to a visitor at the Bioforay at Powdermill Nature Reserve.


Pearce’s own research on the distribution of land snails has ranged from the Kuril Islands of Eastern Russia and Madagascar to the State of Washington, and the Michigan islands. Regionally, he is an expert on mollusks found in the Delmarva Peninsula (the peninsula on Chesapeake Bay) defined by parts of the states of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

The museum’s mollusk collection goes back to the 19th century and contains more than three million specimens, including 1,100 type specimens that first identified the species.

When in 2003 one of the museum’s educators brought a snail to Pearce for identification, Pearce immediately recognized it as a giant African snail, Achatina fulica, a federally listed pest species. This snail had grown to 4.5 inches in a year after the educator found it in a park in Upper St. Clair. A voracious eater, Achatina fulica reproduces easily, and has a history of damaging crops once it is established. In November, Pearce and experts from the federal government and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture searched the park and found no more Giant African snails. But they will return in the warmer weather to check again. Someone apparently had kept this snail as a pet and then released it in the park. Pearce advises that people “keep their pets, even if they do not have big eyes and hair,” until they die.

“ Land snails get around,” he adds. “They raft on material in streams, ride on the feet or feathers of birds, or on leaves blown by the wind.” One of his goals is to make the museum’s collection of snails available to scientists on the internet. Another goal is to identify fully all the species of slugs that live in Pennsylvania—another creature that scientists view as a sensitive barometer to the environment.


Cynthia Morton, Botanist
Molecular biology for oranges, limes, and beans

Cynthia Morton (left) discusses native plants at Powdermill Nature Reserve.


The associate curator and head of the section of botany, Cynthia Morton, is an expert on the molecular and genetic makeup of citrus plants such as lemon, grapefruits, oranges, and mandarins. Her research has strong agricultural and economic implications as she seeks to further define the genetic basis of these plants. The orange-growing industries of Florida, California, and Australia, for example, seek cold tolerant and disease resistant plants, and her research is the kind that can discover where to look for disease resistant genes or cold tolerant rootstocks. But Morton also believes that, given the 160 or so different forms of citrus plants, oranges could grow in more northern regions if the right combination of rootstocks and genetic makeup were combined.

Another of her projects involves work with a colleague from Benin in Africa. They have just published the first genetic map for the rotational crop velvet bean. They hope to develop a new form of the velvet bean (Mucuna) as a rotational crop for Africa, South America, and the southern United States—a plant that is very important because of its nitrogen-fixing capabilities and its potential use as a food source. She notes that molecular biology of the kind she practices is not done easily in most third-World countries.

Another of her interests is bio-remediation of the environment—cleaning up contaminated sites with naturally occurring bacteria as opposed to more expensive and labor-intensive techniques.

As a skilled molecular systematist with a Ph.D. in Biology, Morton could work in industry or at a university, but she feels that the museum gives her flexibility to focus on conservation, and on genetically diverse plant species of value to everyone. The museum’s Molecular Laboratory is very important to her: “We’ve come so far in technology that I can now do molecular research without radioactivity, and I can do in two and a half hours what would have taken me a week and a half to do not so many years ago.” But she also says as she heats a brew of beef juice and plant chemicals in beaker dishes, “A lot of this physical research is not that difficult—it can be done manually. People are often wrongly intimidated by technology.”

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Copyright (c) 2003 CARNEGIE magazine. All rights reserved.