Last August, I took my kids on a South Dakota road trip while making some prehistoric pit stops along the way. At the top of the list was the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research which I’ve wanted to visit for some time. T-Rex enthusiasts know these are the folks who excavated “Sue” and “Stan” and are renowned for their marvelous replicas. To be in “dinosaur country” was particularly exhilarating for a Chicago guy like me, and I was downright giddy when we pulled into the museum’s lot that gorgeous summer evening. We would not be disappointed.
The front of the museum is highlighted by a splendid Triceratops skull replica; perfect for selfies and family photos. Another faux fossil greets guests at the entrance – this one of “Duffy” the T-Rex.
After you enter the building, a small set of stairs leads to a gift shop that carries all three of the major model companies: Safari Ltd., Papo, and Schleich. For some reason, I thought the museum was free but there’s a small admission fee that also allows a free visit should you return within a year. After paying, we signed the “Guest Book” before entering the main gallery.
Despite lacking the space of most municipal museums, the Black Hills Institute makes excellent use of what they do have. Just about every square inch from floor to ceiling has something to look at. Don’t let the size fool you, folks, there’s a LOT to take in.
For me, the main attraction was getting to see the real “Stan,” especially having already admired two of his replicas (one in Colorado and another in New Mexico). Both of those exhibits were quite impressive but, unfortunately, Stan does get a bit lost in the menagerie. I truly hope these folks experience some financial windfalls and are able to expand one day. Regardless, I’d still describe this place as “astounding.”
Here are some more shots from our visit…
The Black Hills Institute of Geological Research is one Prehistoric Pit Stop worth taking. The people are friendly and there’s so much to see be it a dinosaur, prehistoric marine reptiles, and mammals. Despite the limited space, their collection packs a wallop and I wish I could hire whoever set up their artifacts to display my own collection of models and dino-memorabilia. I can definitely relate to having more stuff than space!