If Noah’s Ark ever existed, then it might have looked a little like Naturalis Biodiversity Center. Most Dutch people know Naturalis as natural history museum, but it’s also a very large research institute. Astrid Kromhout from Naturalis explains what they do exactly:"We work with more than 100 researchers to map the biodiversity of nature in all its forms: plants, animals, fossils, fungi, minerals... The researchers describe the species. Often they even discover new ones. For hundreds of years already we’ve been collecting species for scientific research that we use to describe, understand and explain life on earth. It provides us with knowledge that contributes to a healthier environment and important insights into social issues such as the climate, food and medicines."
“We have a big tower of 60 meters high in which all objects are gathered. This collection goes from birds to lions, insects to corals, fossils, extinct species… We hold for example the largest collection of mammoth bones in the world. In total, our collection has more than 42 million objects. And because we all love to share the wonder and fascination that we experience every day, we show a part of the collection to the public at the museum."
Because the number of pieces researchers and visitors continues to grow, the large museum is currently being renovated. “That’s why there is now a smaller temporary exhibition, but with a masterpiece,” says Astrid. “For our new museum, the director wanted an iconic piece. And what could possibly be more iconic than a Tyrannosaurus rex?” Naturalis would not be Naturalis if they wouldn’t want to both find and dig up the T. rex themselves. An ambitious project, but with the help of "T. rex hunter" Peter Larson and their own dinosaur researcher Anne Schulp the result is even better than they could have imagined. "We found a very nice preserved specimen. Sometimes the bones are crushed or broken, but these bones are in a really good condition. It is among the top three of the most complete skeletons in the world,” explains Astrid proudly.
The museum and definitely this exhibition is really geared towards families with children. It includes dinosaur robots, you can ride a bike against the T. rex, play a quiz, listen to stories from researchers and you can see the palaeontologists at work preparing dinosaur bones in the laboratory, you can even ask them questions.
The exhibition also includes a restaurant with the fun name "Rextaurant". The music in the Rextaurant is fully in line with the visiting public. The audience is very diverse, from young to old, and that is reflected in the music that is played in the Rextaurant. Naturalis uses the music calendars in Tunify Green. With these calendars they easily create a pleasant atmosphere with a wide variety of music. The calendars of Tunify Green are fully automatic and the music is carefully composed by Tunify to bring the necessary variation.
It's the first time you can see such a special fossil outside of North America. So you better hurry to see "Trix", as the exhibition runs only until June 5. Afterwards, the T. rex starts travelling through Europe and eventually Trix comes back to Leiden as the showpiece of the new museum. All the necessary information can be found at the Naturalis website.