National Museum of Natural History announces arrival of Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton

The National Museum of Natural History announced that the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton it obtained from Montana will arrive in Washington April 15. The T. rex skeleton will be the centerpiece of the museum’s new 31,000-square-foot national fossil hall, which will open in 2019. The current hall will close to the public April 28 in order to begin the complete redesign and renovation of the exhibition space.

During construction of the new permanent fossil hall, the museum will continue to present dinosaurs and fossils to the public with a variety of exhibits. In anticipation of the T. rex’s arrival, the museum unveiled “Tyrannosaurus rex: Say Hello to the Nation’s T. rex!” Jan. 16, a display featuring a cast of the incoming dinosaur’s skull that will be on view in the Constitution Avenue lobby. The museum also plans to open another exhibition in 2015, “The Last American Dinosaurs: Discovering a Lost World.” It will feature fossils from the last days of the dinosaurs and remain on public view during construction of the hall.

In June 2013, the museum reached a 50-year loan agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to transfer the new T. rex skeleton, formerly on loan to the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Mont., to the Smithsonian. The rare fossil was found in 1988 by Kathy Wankel, a rancher from Angela, Mont., on federal land near the Fort Peck Reservoir in eastern Montana. The T. rex was excavated in 1989-90 by a team led by paleontologist Jack Horner. The skeleton is one of the most complete T. rex specimens ever discovered, with 80–85 percent of the skeleton recovered. The T. rex was originally scheduled to arrive in October 2013 for the National Park Service’s National Fossil Day on the National Mall. These plans were canceled during the U.S. federal government shutdown.