Planetariums and Science Centres. Two New Attractions Debut this Easter

This Easter weekend sees the opening of two brand new attractions, The Australian Museum's permanent dinosaur exhibit and here in the UK, Britains biggest Planetarium.

spinosaurus_eagyptiacus300cut.jpgNow I have always been preoccupied with dinosaurs, my parents fueling  my interest with frequent visits to London’s Natural History Museum (often voted the UK’s most beautiful building) and an avalanche of books. I still take any opportunity to watch/read/discuss dinosaurs or moan about the needlessly overblown Peter Jackson King Kong, a $200 million dollar exercise in proving that less is indeed more.

So tomorrow’s opening day for the Australia Museum’s new and permanent dinosaur exhibit, the country’s first, caught my eye. The 650-square-metre exhibition, which has been two years in the making, includes hundreds of fossils, 10 complete skeletons and eight models of dinosaurs as they appeared in the flesh. It also includes a diorama featuring two carnivorous dinosaurs with their intended victim.

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The exhibtion is split into 4: "Dinosaur World, " "Dinosaur Life, " "Surviving Dinosaurs" and "Discovering Dinosaurs." and the experience is interactive; visitors can touch and handle fossils, use touch screen displays, design their own dinosaur, watch a life-sized CGI-animation of an Australian dinosaur stampede and even inhale the rich aromas of the prehistoric world.

Part of the first stage of the New South Wales Government’s AUS$41m  5 year Australian Museum Revitalisation project, the display will allow  Australian visitors to see the biggest carnivore yet found : the 14-metre-long gigantosaurus, which is thought to have weighed around six tonnes together with a number of recent specimens, including the tiny eoraptor, a 228-million-year-old creature which weighed just10 kilograms and was only one-metre long  .

Another skeleton not seen before in Australia belongs to a 22-metre-long jobaria, a long-necked plant eater.

The second debut has Britain’s biggest planetarium opening its doors to the public this morning. Boasting  a 16.5m dome for the screening of interactive features and a 176 seat auditorium the planetarium is based at Winchester’s Intech Science Centre. It was funded by a £650K grant from The South east England Development Agency, the chairman of which, Prof Bill Wakeham, southhamton logo120.jpg says, "We believe that developing a planetarium at Intech is an excellent way of encouraging a far greater number of students to continue studying science, engineering and mathematics subjects across the south-east and beyond."  Money well spent.

Prof Wakeham is also vice-chancellor of Southampton University, which recently paid London agency Precedent Communications £160, 000 to come up with its new brand/logo. After no doubt many hours of blue-sky thinking and power lunches from the pony-tailed creatives, out went the much loved and recognised dolphin and in came the brilliant new design..(see right) .You’ve just got to admire their chutzpah.