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UW Museum Celebrates Dinosaur Statue Anniversary Friday and Saturday

April 9, 2014
T-rex statue
This Tyrannosaurus rex statue has guarded the front of the University of Wyoming Geological Museum for 50 years. (UW Photo)

The life-sized copper statue of Tyrannosaurus rex that guards the front of the University of Wyoming’s Geological Museum will mark the 50th anniversary of its dedication Friday, April 11.

To celebrate the anniversary, the Geological Museum will host two “birthday” parties, one at lunchtime Friday in front of the statue, and another Saturday, April 12, from noon-2 p.m. in the museum. Birthday cake will be provided, and well-wishers can sign a giant birthday card to the T. rex.

Legendary UW Professor Samuel H. “Doc” Knight built the statue after he retired from UW in 1963. He spent more than 4,000 hours welding the 45-foot-long steel support structure and hand-hammering the copper plates to create the skin texture.

“It’s only fitting that we take a few moments to celebrate this anniversary of one of UW’s campus icons,” says Kelli Trujillo, UW Geological Museum manager. “The T. rex statue, and the museum itself, UW Professor Samuel H. Knight works on the head of his statue during its construction in 1963. (UW Photo)are legacies of ‘Doc’ Knight, and we’re delighted to carry on the tradition.”

During Knight’s 60-year career at UW, he built UW’s Geology Department into one of the nation’s best and led the development of the Geological Museum’s collection, which had begun shortly after the university’s founding. The current museum building opened in 1956.

In addition to constructing the T. rex statue, Knight designed the terra cotta bas-relief Stegosaurus and Triceratops panels on the front of the museum and painted several of the displays inside the museum. He also was responsible for the initial mounting of the Apatosaurus skeleton that remains the museum’s centerpiece.

S.H. Knight was celebrated as Wyoming's "Citizen of the Century" in 1999.

The Geological Museum in 2012 underwent a $1 million renovation that maintained its historic features while revamping its layout, reorganizing exhibits and updating its mechanical, electrical, lighting and fire protection systems.


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