Ten years ago, the Field Museum unveiled Sue, the world's largest and most complete T. rex. This summer, the museum marks that anniversary with dinosaur-inspired exhibits and activities. With all that's new and old, a Sue-centered visit is a great way to spend a summer day.
Get Liz Hoffman's take on the exhibit and watch the video here.
Start your day with a journey to prehistoric times, where dinos move, make eye contact and roar. Realistic-looking robotic creatures are computer programmed to respond to human movement and behavior, making each interaction unique. My 8-year-old was fascinated by how the Velicoraptor followed his movements up and down while my oldest taunted the T. rex into giant roars.
Apart from the animatronics, the exhibit cleverly reveals much of what scientists have learned from the study of Sue, especially about its sense of smell. My sons loved being sniffed by a T. rex. Be aware that the intense sights and sounds of this exhibit can be intimidating to young children.
You can also come face to face with Sue in the museum's new 3-D theater. Once again, the museum successfully combines science education with entertainment as the movie centers around the discovery and study of Sue. For instance, we know from its sharp, pointed teeth that it could tear food, but not chew. I loved the scientific context, while my sons preferred the 3-D action sequences where Sue rips through the bone and muscle of a Triceratops. "Mom, look at the blood. Cool." While we didn't find it any more graphic than shows on Animal Planet, the lifelike dramatizations had the youngster behind us asking the leave.
While this temporary exhibit is not technically about dinosaurs, it's a great finish to the day. Kids are encouraged to touch and explore most of the exhibit, including skeletons and giant fleshed-out creatures. Large-scale projections, a perfectly preserved baby mammoth and walk-though dioramas brought this exhibit to life. Open through Sept. 6.
The best way to see everything at the Field Museum is with an All-Access pass ($16-$29). This allows entry into all exhibits, plus the 3-D film.
Alena Murguia lives in Berwyn, Illinois along with her husband and three growing sons.
See more of Alena's stories here.