“Victoria the T. rex” is as awe-inspiring as one would hope of a giant dino exhibit. The 66 million-year-old dinosaur fossil, on display through Jan. 3, 2020 at the Arizona Science Center, is duly impressive.
The exhibit kicks off with an informational video about the theoretical life of Victoria, the name the researchers and paleontologists gave the T. rex fossil, from her time as a hatchling until her death and subsequent burial. Initially unearthed in 2013 outside Faith, South Dakota, Victoria has undergone years of research and restoration and is considered the second most complete T. rex skeleton on record.
After the video is the big reveal: the giant standing fossil of Victoria the T. rex.
“Look at the size of those teeth — they’re as big as my hand!” I commented to my husband, who was equally intimidated by the size of the teeth, jaws, and general largeness of the dinosaur.
Victoria’s fossil is supported by several intriguing interactive stations educating about the looks (who knew T. rex had feathers!), sounds, sights and smells of a T. rex, and information about their organs, bones and more. It explores unusual battle scars that may have led to Victoria’s death as well as her role as a mother and uses animation and immersive digital environments to tell Victoria’s story. The fossil is followed by a faux forest with some interesting projections and video shorts about how a T. rex hunts and feeds her young (spoiler: they eat out of her mouth).
The exhibit is well done and full of fascinating information but only covers the one dinosaur — which makes for a shorter visit than some of the recent Science Center exhibits such as “Mummies of the World” and “Pompeii.”
“This is one of the most significant paleontological discoveries in decades, and to have the exhibit premiere at Arizona Science Center is a privilege for our organization, our members and our community,” Chevy Humphrey, The Hazel A. Hare president & CEO of Arizona Science Center, said in a statement earlier this year. “The exhibition flawlessly combines science and storytelling while offering an unprecedented look into Victoria’s story and life 66 million years ago.”
Dec. 9, 2020 update:
Guests can now choose from the traditional self-guided experience or an immersive Guided Experience option. Both follow strict health and safety guidelines. Capacity is limited; guests are required to purchase timed tickets in advance.
The exhibition will be open to visitors of all ages through Jan. 3. Tickets are $11.95 ($9.95 members) and free for ages 2 and younger. General admission ($14.95-$34.95) also is required.