- David Pollock
- 5 February 2020
National Museum of Scotland's latest exhibition takes on Jurassic thrills in an interactive and entertaining way
In recent times the National Museum of Scotland's bespoke exhibitions have done a good job of merging adult interest, children's amusement and wide-reaching educational value, whether their subjects have been primates or the history of Scottish pop music. For this touring show by the Australian Museum, however – which is making its only UK stop here – the main focus is firmly upon the sort of Jurassic thrills which will have kids gasping in the greatest amazement, and which are bound to make it a guaranteed hit.
Not that everyone can't love dinosaurs, of course, but there's something about monstrous lizards which plays most evocatively upon fertile young imaginations. The most attention-grabbing single piece in this exhibition is the cast skeleton of Scotty the Tyrannosaurus Rex, one of the largest complete T-Rex skeletons ever found, towering above those of his near and distant cousins like Lythronax Argestes, Daspletosaurus Torosus, the feathered Velociraptor Mongoliensis, and the common chicken.
The point the exhibition makes in this regard is that Tyrannosaurs weren't just a single type of Spielberg-friendly creature which existed at a fixed point in time, but that the family which goes by that name were in existence for nearly 100 million years, between 165 and 66 million years ago, and that they went through a range of iterations and evolutions in this time. Alongside the fully-reconstructed cast skeletons and in-depth interpretation boards, there are plenty of elements to the show which will keep younger and older dinosaur hunters happy.
There are interactive displays which invite players to hatch their own dinosaurs and guess the breed or cause their own extinction-level event; an atmospheric video corridor which imagines dinosaurs roaming the streets of Edinburgh; and film which details the work of palaeontologists. Yet it's the evocation of the sheer weight of time these creatures walked the earth that even more imaginative and inquisitive viewers might struggle to comprehend.
National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, until Mon 4 May.