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Museum numbers up 20 percent from 2017

Dickinson Dinosaur Museum has had a successful 2018.

Attendance numbers through October are up 20 percent from the same time last year, Robert Fuhrman, museum director, said.

Through October 2017, the museum had 11,467 visitors, and through October 2018, welcomed 14,427 visitors.

"I think it's a product of having a year under our belt, getting word out via our new website, a lot of great support from the city, and the fact that we're open all year round," Fuhrman said. "The dinosaur side used to close during the summers years ago."

Also generating excitement is the museum's continuing field work.

Paleontologist Denver Fowler and his team returned to Montana's Judith River Formation this summer to further excavate an intact tyrannosaur and brought back many more fossil samples for study.

The museum also unveiled its new feathered exhibits to great acclaim.

A Hell Creek Alvarezsaurid model won the Lanzendorf-National Geographic paleoart sculpture prize for 2018.

The model was created by Serbian artist and paleontologist Boban Filipović based on fossils found by the museum's paleontologists in 2015.

The team's efforts have been so successful the museum is readying to add a new position, a paleo preparator, based on the needs generated from their expeditions.

"We knew Denver was going to be bringing in some good specimens," Fuhrman said. "Bringing things out of the field is a bit of the work, but then there's an awful lot of time spent in the lab preparing those specimens for study and display."

Fuhrman described the museum's growth as "gratifying."

"In some ways, this year's been like a snowball rolling down a hill," he said. "We've got some momentum going. It's really neat."

With this growth, the museum can further expand its programs and efforts.

"It can be program growth. Certainly (Dr. Fowler) is kicking around some ideas about paleo programming," Fuhrman said. "It also gives us a chance to think about, not Capital Improvements, but things along those lines."

Historical preservation efforts continue, as well, with Fuhrman pursuing National Registry status for the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network station, a part of the North Dakota State University Dickinson Research Extension Center.

"We're waiting to hear from NDSU if they want the nomination submitted," he said. "We want to respect what they want to do."

Another option is to designate the NDAWN facility a local landmark.

"We haven't had a local landmark designated since about 2012," Fuhrman said. "There are a lot of older buildings in town that would be nice to designate."

He added, "It gives us a chance to remind the people in the community about those pieces of history."

Fuhrman enjoys both preserving history and bringing smiles to visiting children's faces.

"It gives me the chance to be a parent all over again," he said. "When I see kids come in and connect with stuff, it's so cool. But then we also get adults who come in and connect with things, and that's really encouraging, as well."

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