Moveable Dinosaur Museum
Before it came to Mongolia, the Moveable Museum toured school yards around New York City as a roving exhibit of the American Museum of Natural History. It was donated to the Institute for the Study of Mongolian Dinosaurs in 2013, and made its way to Mongolia with the generous help of Gerry Ohrstrom and Epicurus Fund, who footed the shipping bill from New York to Ulaanbaatar. Since then, it has visited rural and urban locations across Mongolia so that children and curious adults can explore its modern, engaging dinosaur exhibits.
There are still several challenges to the museum’s success in Mongolia. Because the exhibit text is still in English, a bilingual museum interpreter is needed to guide school groups and interpret exhibits for the public. It’s the only vehicle of its kind in Mongolia, so mechanical repairs can be time-intensive and costly. It’s also larger than most vehicles in Mongolia, so indoor parking has been impossible to secure during the harsh winter, when temperatures can fall well below zero for months at a time and wind blasts every surface with snow and ice. Wagner Asia has generously donated parking space and kept the Moveable Museum covered between workshop seasons.
Although originally designed for a New York audience, many of the exhibits on board are about Mongolian fossils, largely due to the fact that the American Museum of Natural History has been one of the primary institutions involved in Mongolian paleontology since the Central Asiatic Expeditions, the very first paleontological expeditions to the Gobi Desert in the 1920s. Many of the fossil replicas, including a Protoceratops skull and a roosting Oviraptor, are from specimens in the AMNH collections that were gathered on those expeditions and later ones led by paleontologists Mark Norell and Mike Novacek in the 1990s.
Education & Inspiration
For most visitors in Mongolia, the Moveable Museum is the first dinosaur museum they have ever visited. Although the population of Mongolia has broad access to both the internet and higher education, there is little focus on natural history in the schools and almost no information available about dinosaurs online in Mongolian. Students who visit the museum as part of a workshop are given an activity to find all the Mongolian dinosaurs on board. This and other workshop activities give students an accurate sense of how important Mongolia is to the field of paleontology, and how close to home dinosaurs really are. We believe that by working with and teaching those who live near some of the world’s most important fossil sites, we can inspire local conservation, discourage poaching, and encourage young people to become paleontologists themselves.
How you can help
Fuel, maintenance, interpretive staff, workshop materials and driver are funded by generous contributions from people like you. To help keep the Moveable Museum going, make a tax-deductible donation today. If you live in Mongolia and are fluent in English and Mongolian, contact us about volunteering.