Sternberg Museum: Bringing old bones back to life through National Fossil Day

STORY AND PHOTOS BY LAURYN BECKER

Throughout Earth Science week this past week, another major science day occurred on Wednesday – National Fossil Day. Along with it being National Fossil Day, the celebrations are continuing through the weekend as Sternberg is offering a unique virtual experience for patrons of all ages who want to learn more about fossils. 

“National Fossil Day is a celebration organized by AGI and the National Park Service to promote public awareness and stewardship of fossils, as well as to foster a greater appreciation of their scientific and educational value.  This year’s theme for NFD is dinosaurs,” Reese Barrick, Sternberg’s Museum Director, said. “This weekend for NFD celebrations, Sternberg Online is using the GatherTown platform to provide an authentic online museum experience in a game-like setting. Text panels, videos, and images provide visitors with information about famous dinosaurs and local fossils. A virtual field experience will take museum-goers into the field to hunt fossils. Visitors will also have unique opportunities to interact with exhibits, Sternberg Museum paleontologists, and each other.”

As Sternberg is the museum of Natural History in Hays, Earth Science week is always, as one can expect, a big deal. 

“The idea behind Earth Science week is to create events that give people a greater understanding and appreciation of Earth science and encourage stewardship of the planet,” Barrick said. “Some years the Museum collaborates on events during the week with the Geosciences department on the theme for the year (Water today and for the Future). Every year the museum has a free day on National Fossil Day that occurs on the Wednesday of Earth Science week every year.”

As far as National Fossil day goes, the Museum offers a free day for patrons to come and see the new exhibits and the museum as a whole. Being able to walk through the museum and experience the fossils and other exhibits allows for hands-on learning in a fun and unique environment for visitors of all ages. 

“Each year we have two free days at the museum.  This serves the purpose of making the museum accessible to everyone in the community,” Barrick said. “We match these free days to days when we generally have special events planned at the museum.  National Fossil Day is one of those days every year and Darwin Day in February is the other.” 

For the rest of the year, some new exhibits will be making their way to Sternberg as well. The constant rotation of exhibits is a consistent draw for visitors to the museum. 

“There is a lot happening with exhibits at the museum this fall. The robotic Age of the Dinosaurs has been extended to the end of the year. On November 6, we will open ‘Exploring Extinction: the Dodo’ which looks into the life and death of this iconic creature as a case of human-driven extinction,” Barrick said. “We presently have the new exhibit ‘Animal Groups’, a sequel to the Art and the Animal exhibition featuring nine artists focused on nine groups. 

‘Beautiful paintings and The artists featured in the exhibition will be Brian Jarvi, Tucker Bailey, Dan Ostermiller, Ezra Tucker, Jan McAllaster Stommes, Joy Beckner,

Brandon Finamore, Gamini Ratnavira, and Paul Rhymer. The exhibit will feature “beautiful paintings and sculptures [that] capture the characteristics of incredible animals from around the world.”

“Each artist captured a small piece of nature, ranging from pets and farm animals to the wilds of North America, Africa, and the Indian Ocean land and sea,” Barrick said. 

Another unique feature of Sternberg is its YouTube channel that helps to educate people about different aspects of science and fossil discovery. 

“The Sternberg Museum also has its own YouTube channel. We presently

feature a weekly video series, A New Way to Museum. You can explore the

museum and the world of topics with the staff of the museum in this fun series.

A new episode drops every Thursday,” Barrick said. 

For more information about the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, visit https://sternberg.fhsu.edu

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