Big changes are coming to Chicago's Field Museum -- literally.
As the iconic museum prepares to celebrate its 125th anniversary, officials announced plans to makeover its famed T. rex, Sue, and to install a touchable cast of the biggest dinosaur ever discovered.
The changes are thanks to a $16.5 million donation from the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund, marking one of the largest private contributions ever to a Chicago museum.
“The Field Museum’s never-ending goal is to offer the best possible dinosaur experiences. Ken Griffin’s long-time support is a major step forward in achieving that goal,” Field Museum President Richard Lariviere said in a statement. “With this extraordinary gift from Ken, we’ll be able to create a more scientifically accurate and engaging home for SUE the T. rex and welcome the world’s largest dinosaur to the Field.”
The new dinosaur is a cast made from the fossil bones of a giant, long-necked herbivore from Argentina that’s part of a group of dinosaurs called titanosaurs, officials said. From snout to tail, it stretches 122 feet long, longer than two accordion CTA buses end-to-end.
It will be so tall that visitors on the museum’s second-floor balcony will be eye-to-eye with the creature, which will be housed in the museum’s Stanley Field Hall. Visitors will be able to touch the titanosaur cast and walk underneath it, making it the only one in the world museum-goers are able to touch and only the second ever to be on display.
In addition, Sue will move from Stanley Field Hall to the museum's permanent exhibition, the Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet.
“At 40.5 feet long, she’s the world’s biggest T. rex, but in that giant hall, people sometimes remark that she’s smaller than they expected,” Senior Exhibitions Project Manager Hilary Hansen said. “By putting her in her own gallery in our Evolving Planet exhibition, she’ll be put into the proper context of her fellow dinosaurs, and she’ll dominate the room.”
Sue will also receive a series of scientific updates, including the addition of her "gastralia," a set of bones that look like an additional set of ribs stretched across her belly.
“T. rex had a bulging belly—it wasn’t sleek and gazelle-like the way you might think from looking at SUE now without her gastralia,” Associate Curator of Dinosaurs Pete Makovicky said in a statement. “We’ll also update her body stance, so she’ll be walking rather than skulking, her arms will come down a little, and we’ll readjust her wishbone.”
Sue will come down from her current mount in February 2018, and will be unveiled in her new home in the spring of 2019, the museum said. The titanosaur will be on display starting in late spring 2018.