newsworthyFall 2008

Traveling fossils

Already well-versed in all things dinosaur, a major dinosaur museum in Japan looked to Carnegie Museum of Natural History to help showcase the next chapter in Earth history: the rise of mammals.

Housing one of the most valuable collections of Cenozoic Era fossil mammals of North America (those that lived as far back as 65 million years ago), the Museum of Natural History loaned 86 fossil vertebrates, including some  of the museum’s best fossil specimens, for the exhibit The Extinction of Dinosaurs and Rise of New Rulers.   The exhibit opened in July at the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum, a premier museum of earth sciences and paleontology in Fukui, Japan, which brings in about 350,000 visitors a year. The loan marks the first time Carnegie’s extensive fossil mammal collection, ranging from the earliest-known horse to other gigantic, hoofed mammals,  has been on public view in Japan.

photo: Mindy McNaugher

FedEx, which transported 12 crates of fossils weighing 4,500 pounds from Pittsburgh to central Japan, donated the cost of shipment. Two of Carnegie Museums’ top scientists, Zhe-Xi Luo, associate director for science and research and curator of vertebrate  paleontology, and Chris Beard, the Mary R. Dawson Chair of vertebrate paleontology, spoke at the exhibit’s opening and contributed to its catalogue with articles about Mesozoic mammals and primate evolution. And fossil preparators Amy Henrici and  Allen Shaw traveled to Japan to help care for and present the fossils.

Love conquers all

Being re-united never felt so good! Guinness World Records™ made it official: Pittsburgh now holds the record for the most couples—624 to be exact—to simultaneously renew their wedding vows. The event took place February 10, 2008, when participants filled Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland for “Re-Union” and said “I do” all over again as part of this year’s celebration of Pittsburgh’s 250th birthday.

The Guinness book required extensive evidence of the history-making event: photographic and video documentation, witness statements, media clips, and a photocopy of the original marriage certificate of each couple, labeled and mailed to the United Kingdom for approval. Carnegie Museums finally received the big news in August: Pittsburgh officially shattered the previous record of 272 couples who re-wed in Sydney, Australia, just one year earlier.

The ever-evolving story

A new History Channel series, Evolve, asks how much stronger, sharper, smarter do we need to be if we want to survive? And Carnegie Museum of Natural History scientists and researchers are among the world-class experts who weighed in as part of the 13-episode series that explores a variety of evolutionary topics in one-hour segments.

History Channel camera crews spoke to the museum’s resident experts during a visit last spring. On August 5, Matt Lamanna, assistant curator of vertebrate paleontology and the museum’s chief dinosaur hunter, was featured as part of Evolve: Guts in which he shared some appetizing information about gastroliths (stomach stones) and how some dinosaurs employed them for digestion. And not to be missed: On September 5, Lamanna, PaleoLab Preparator Dan Pickering, and Curator of Birds Brad Livezey will be featured in Evolve: Flight.

A gift with bite

The world’s love affair with dinosaurs will never go the way of extinction. So if you’re looking for a lasting gift, adopt a fossil from Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s blockbuster exhibit Dinosaurs in Their Time. It’s actually two gifts in one: a one-of-a-kind gesture for a friend or family member (when else could they “unwrap” the tooth of a T. rex?), and valuable support for the Museum of Natural History, home to the country’s third largest collection of real dinosaur specimens. Put your name, or the name of a loved one, on a piece of Pittsburgh history. All gifts are tax-deductible and come with an official “certificate of adoption.” And for a limited time, the Laurel Foundation will match your donation dollar-for-dollar, doubling your gift up to a total of $45,000! Adopt today at

Puttin’ on the glitz for a good cause

Nordstrom’s grand debut in Pittsburgh will include a high-fashion, high-energy gala aimed at raising more than $200,000 in support of educational outreach at Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. The October 22 event, underwritten entirely by Nordstrom, will include cocktails, delicious food, and a glitzy fashion show. Those who attend get a sneak peek at the department store’s new Ross Park Mall digs two days before it opens to the public, a front-row seat to a runway fashion show, and the satisfaction of supporting two of Pittsburgh’s most treasured cultural organizations. Tickets are $125, including general seating for the fashion show, or $250 for premium reserved seating. Call 412.454.9137, or visit and check out “special promotions.”

Passing the torch

This past June, the Carnegie Museums leadership torch was again passed from one inspired individual to another, as Suzy Broadhurst, director of Corporate Giving for Eat’n Park Hospitality Group, after having served the limit of six years, stepped down as chair of Carnegie Museums’ Board of Trustees. Her successor, Lee B. Foster, chairman of Pittsburgh’s L.B. Foster Company, had served as vice chair since 2004 and recently served as chair of Carnegie Museums’ successful Building the Future campaign.

“This institution has such a rich history of dedicated volunteer leaders who have so willingly and capably devoted themselves to caring for the museums they love, and Lee and Suzy are two exceptional examples of this,” says David M. Hillenbrand, president of Carnegie Museums.

“The momentum at each of our museums  is palpable,” says Lee Foster. “And I’m thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to now  be playing an even larger role in maintaining the level of quality expected of our four world-class museums.”

Other recent leadership changes include the departure of two museum directors: Jo Haas, the former Henry Buhl, Jr. director of Carnegie Science Center, left in July for a post at the Louisville Science Center, and Richard Armstrong, The Henry J. Heinz II director of Carnegie Museum of Art, announced he will retire from his position at the end of the year. Armstrong is stepping down after 16 years of service, 12 at the helm of the Museum of Art. Finally, Carnegie Museum of Natural History recently named a new board chair, Joseph Guyaux, president of The PNC Financial Services Group. Guyaux replaces John A. (Jack) Barbour, CEO-elect of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, who served the two-term limit and was instrumental in helping to secure state funding for Dinosaurs in Their Time.
Also in this issue:

Dream Machine  ·  Burb Appeal  ·  Transformers  ·  Speaking Their Language  ·  President's Note  ·  Now Showing  ·  Face Time: Andy Mack  ·  Artistic License: In the Name of Hybrid Theater  ·  Science & Nature: The Herp House  ·  About Town: A Road Map to Scientific Treasure  ·  Another Look: The Child Mummy