BOZEMAN, Mont. - In June of last year, Montana State University's Museum of the Rockies announced the 50-year loan of the Wankel T.rex to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Originally scheduled to leave for the Smithsonian October 11, 2013, its departure was postponed due to the government shutdown.
Having reached agreement with the Smithsonian on a new departure date, MOR is pleased to announce that on Friday, April 11, 2014, from 11:30am to 1:30pm, it will host a special event as it sends the Wankel T.rex to its new home in Washington, D.C.
"This is a remarkable moment for all of Montana." said Sheldon McKamey, Executive Director of Museum of the Rockies. "The Wankel T. Rex will become the most viewed T.rex skeleton in the world, and that's something everyone in the state can be proud of."
Kathy Wankel, a rancher from Angela, Mont., found the T.rex near the Fort Peck Reservoir in 1988. Because the T.rex was discovered on Federal land, it is the property of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Museum of the Rockies field crews and paleontologist Jack Horner excavated the fossilized skeleton in 1989-90. The full specimen was housed at MOR in Bozeman where it was prepared in public view, studied extensively and ultimately placed on display. In 2001, the Wankel T.rex was cast in bronze and placed near Museum of the Rockies' front entrance where the skeleton, nicknamed "Big Mike," became a popular photo opportunity for tourists. The bronze cast skeleton will remain at MOR.
The Museum's send-off event will include MOR's Rocky Rex mascot, a hot dog picnic and children's events. Kathy Wankel and family, dignitaries from the Smithsonian and the USACE, and many of the original excavation site field crew members will also be in attendance. The event is free and open to the public.
The Wankel T.rex will be on display in the National Museum's new paleontology exhibit scheduled to open in 2019. The skeleton is one of the most complete T.rex specimens ever discovered, with 80-85 percent of the fossilized bone recovered. At the conclusion of the 50-year loan, the fossils will return to Montana.
MOR also announced it is collaborating with the US Army Corps of Engineers to mount another T.rex specimen in the Museum's Siebel Dinosaur Complex. Known as the Peck's Rex, it is as complete a skeleton as the Wankel T.rex and will be erected sometime in early 2015.
"We are very fortunate to have two such wonderful specimens reposited at MOR," said Waded Cruzado, President of Montana State University. "One will be on display at Museum of the Rockies for our visitors, and the other goes to the Smithsonian to represent Montana. Everyone benefits."
The Wankel T.rex is scheduled to arrive at the Smithsonian on April 15, 2014.
About the Museum of the Rockies (MOR)
The Museum of the Rockies is both a college-level division of
Montana State University and an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit institution. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, MOR is one of just 776 museums to hold this distinction from the more than 17,500 museums nationwide. The Museum is also a Smithsonian Institution affiliate and a federal repository for fossils.
The Museum of the Rockies inspires visitors to explore the rich natural and cultural history of America's Northern Rocky Mountains. In partnership with Montana State University, the Museum reaches diverse communities with engaging exhibits, educational programs, and original research that advance public understanding of the collections.
This release was sent out by the Museum of the Rockies.