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Constructing a Home for Carnegie’s Dinosaurs. Again.



















Dinosaurs in Their World's three-story atrium now stands completed, but with plenty of construction still going on beneath it.

One year ago, construction began on the massive expansion of Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s now-extinct Dinosaur Hall. The final product, Dinosaurs in Their World, will be an awe-inspiring creation of Mesozoic proportions: nearly triple the size of the old hall, with a soaring three-story atrium, spread across 22,600 square feet, with ample space for more than 15 standing dinosaurs to linger—and seemingly live again—in authentic-looking, lush environments.

Jendoco Construction Corp., the construction manager for Dinosaurs in Their World, is currently more than halfway done with its task, which includes the construction of the new dinosaur exhibit halls as well as the construction of a new Museum of Natural History library and molecular lab. By August of this year, construction is scheduled to be complete, and in the months to follow, Carnegie’s dinosaurs will begin their journey back from New Jersey, where they’ve been undergoing an extreme makeover in the hands of Phil Fraley Productions.

It was exactly 100 years ago that the original Dinosaur Hall was being constructed as part of Carnegie Museums’ first major expansion. Andrew Carnegie’s “palace of culture” was barely 5 years old when its founder decided he already needed to expand it. One of the reasons: Carnegie had discovered dinosaurs.

Carnegie Museums' 1904-1907 expansion included the addition of Dinosaur Hall.

In 1897, after reading a New York newspaper report about the bones of a “colossal” creature found out West, Carnegie ordered then-museum Director William Holland to “buy this for Pittsburgh.” Unable to purchase a specimen, Holland, with the financial backing of Carnegie, dispatched a team to Wyoming in 1898. A year later, the group hit pay dirt: the well-preserved bones of a new species of dinosaur that would eventually be named after Carnegie, Diplodocus carnegii (aka, “Dippy”). But where would the museum put the gigantic creature once its scientists pieced him back together again?

By 1901, Carnegie committed to the expansion of his Institute, and plans for the addition that would become home to his namesake included a new foyer for the Music Hall, a Hall of Architecture, and a Hall of Sculpture. Cost estimates quickly went from $1.75 million, to $3.6 million, to a final cost of more than $5 million. Excavation began on November 1, 1903, and it took the better part of the next four years to complete the project. The new building, much as it stands today (without the Scaife wing, which was added in 1974), was opened with great pomp and circumstance on April 12, 1907.

It’s a sure bet that in late 2007, the celebration for the opening of Dinosaurs in Their World will be every bit as elaborate. But this time, Pittsburgh will be celebrating the return of Carnegie’s dinosaurs—in a setting bigger and better than even Andrew Carnegie could have ever imagined.

To get a glimpse of the progress being made on Dinosaurs in Their World, check out the special WebCam on the Carnegie Museum of Natural History website.

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