12 of the World’s Best Dinosaur Museums
These dinosaur museums will take you back to a time when fantastic creatures ruled the planet. Plus, you’ll get up-to-date information on our evolving knowledge of these incredible beasts.
The Paleo Lab at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas, Texas
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Here’s an opportunity to be the first of your friends to meet Nanuqsaurus, a newly assembled relative of Tyrannosaurus Rex featured at the brand new Paleo Lab at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. The Lab opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony held August 28, 2018, and features an augmented reality experience that puts you up close with dinosaurs such as Diplodocus, Velociraptor, and T. Rex, as well as hands-on fossil digs and opportunities to watch real paleontologists at work.
Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.
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When it first opened in 1910, the Dinosaur Hall at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History was called “The Museum of Extinct Monsters.” But it’s a forgivable designation considering the Triceratops and T. Rex who reign over the 5,200 square foot space. Through June of 2019, you can experience The Last American Dinosaurs: Discovering a Lost World, featuring fossils obtained at the Hell Creek Formation in the American West.
The Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois
Courtesy Lucy Hewitt
If you want to get to know a titanosaur on a first-name basis, the Field Museum is the right place. The Field Museum is pleased to introduce you to Maximo, a 122-foot-long titanosaur—the largest dinosaur discovered to date. And he’s literally available for sleepovers: Several times a year, Dozin With Dinos invites kids ages six through 12 to take a nighttime tour of the dinos and then sleep over amid Maximo and all his fossil friends. Here are 13 more museums where you can actually spend the night.
American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York
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More up-to-the-minute discoveries await at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where a 122-foot-long dinosaur—discovered in 2014—is on display. It’s one of the largest dinosaurs ever to have been discovered (so far). It’s called, appropriately, the Titanosaur. The AMNH also features sleepovers and, on certain designated nights, grownups are invited to partake in a mature sleepover (drinks are served).
Natural History Museum, London
The Natural History Museum of London’s collection of world-famous dinosaur includes an Iguanodon (one of the first species ever described as a dinosaur), a Baryonyx (one of the largest meat-eating dinos to roam Europe), the most complete Stegosaurus fossil ever discovered, as well as an enormous T. Rex. Here, you can explore all the different time periods during which dinosaurs lived and sort through facts (versus myths) about what really killed off these enormous creatures. Here are all the dinosaur myths scientists wish you’d stop believing.
Natural History Museum, Paris
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This is more than a single museum: It’s a complex of museums with an entire building devoted to its dinosaur collection. You’ll find an Allosaurus fragilis, Diplodocus, a mammoth, the three-horned Triceratops, Basilosaurus, and the biggest crocodile species that ever lived on the planet—Sarcosuchus imperator. A recent special exhibit included the second most complete T. Rex skeleton ever found, which was found in Montana in 2013.
Badlands Dinosaur Museum, Dickenson, North Dakota
Speaking of Montana, this 1,500 pound Triceratops was excavated by a couple in Montana in 1992, who then gifted it to the Dickenson Museum Center, which then made it the star exhibit of what would become the Badlands Dinosaur Museum. The center now has an impressive number of dinosaurs on display, including full skeletons of:
Much of the collection comes from the four-state region—Montana, Wyoming, and both Dakotas—which is so rich in paleontology discoveries, the area might as well be known as “Dinosaur Land.”
The North Dakota Dinosaur Tour
If you’re heading to the Badlands, consider taking the whole North Dakota Dinosaur Tour of eight total museums (including the Badlands Dinosaur Museum) that display some of North America’s most fascinating discoveries. For example:
- A 30-million-year-old horse, Mesohippus, at the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame
- 6 million years’ worth of artifacts, specimens, and displays at the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum
While you’re in the area, don’t miss an opportunity to go on an actual fossil dig. The fossil above is a finding from Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. Check out these 15 natural wonders you’ve likely never heard of.
Wyoming Dinosaur Tour
Courtesy Laura Vietti
Wyoming is rich in dinosaur exhibits, as well as fascinating non-animal fossils (pictured is petrified wood at Yellowstone National Forest). Among Wyoming’s top dinosaur destinations:
- Wyoming Dinosaur Center, where you can work like a paleontologist, digging and cleaning dinosaur bones, and even see 30 actual dinosaur skeletons
- University of Wyoming Geological Museum, where you can see a 75-foot Apatosaurus skeleton that was unearthed right in Albany County, Wyoming
- Wyoming State Museum, where you can see one of the first dinosaurs found in Wyoming, a Camptosaurus
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Colorado
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science with its Prehistoric Journey exhibit features an interactive battle between a gargantuan Stegosaurus and an 80-foot-long Diplodocus. (Pictured is a Diplodocus in a 1940 photo taken at the museum, when it used to be called the Colorado Museum of Natural History.) Don’t miss the nearby Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience, with dinosaur fossils and animatronic displays, interactive displays, and hands-on exhibits.