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Dinosaur museum prepares to relocate 30k fossils and rocks


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VERNAL — Most people who have ever moved know how big of a hassle it can be. Now, imagine packing up an old museum filled with dinosaur fossils.

The Utah Field House of Natural History Museum State Park in Vernal is moving its stored collection into a state-of-the-art repository, and the staff has been preparing for the big day for three months.

"If you were to move an entire neighborhood of houses, you're kind of looking at what we're up against here at the museum," said curator of education Mary Beth Bennis-Bottomley. "We're probably looking in excess of 30,000 different fossils or rocks or collections. So we're looking at a lot to move."

Everything in the dilapidated former museum building is being readied for transfer to a new facility, which was built entirely with taxes paid by oil and gas companies working in Utah.

"This room is about 8,600 square feet which gives about 2,000 to 3,000 more square feet of storage for specimens," said park manager Steve Sroka.

The new repository and lab meet all federal requirements for fossil storage. The lab will also offer visitors a unique experience once its fully outfitted.

"People can come and see how fossils are prepped," Bennis-Bottomley said. "How they are cared for and what the real work entails to get a bone from out into the field and into the exhibits for a display."

The museum staff expects to begin moving fossils into the new repository in about two weeks. After that, they'll hold a public open house at the end of the month.

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Geoff Liesik

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