Of course, Mr 'too smart for his own good' 5 year old worked out right away that the t-rex wasn't real due to the metal bars holding it onto the wall. I'm not sure whether to be proud of him or sad that he's loosing his childlike innocence and belief in magic so quickly! More fantasy stories are obviously needed.
The Australian Museum in Sydney is Australia's oldest museum. The current dinosaur exhibit is one the largest the museum has housed to date, with 10 full skeletons and eight life-sized models, interactive displays and things to touch! Yes that's right, a museum with things the kids can touch. Wow!
As you would expect, the exhibit houses the skeletons of some of the most famous dinosaurs. A full Stegosaurus skeleton, several ceratops species, models of raptors and a replica of a Giganotosaurus skeleton. And of course famous Australian species like the Muttaburrasarus feature too.
One of our favourite parts was the comparative displays of dinosaur relics, including eggs from various species displayed side by side and a wide variety of teeth contrasted again some modern animals. The kids were amazed to see that a t-rex's tooth was much smaller than a spinosaurus tooth and enjoyed feeling the ridges on a herbivores tooth.
Aside from the general exhibition filled with bones and replica's, the display has a mock palaeontologist laboratory with replica dig sites, classification exercises, and computer games where you build your own dinosaur to colour in.
My favourite was the half reconstructed t-rex skull. One side was bone, the other mock flesh to illustrate how scientists recreate what the animals may have looked like. Obviously the scientists here are hypothesising that t-rex's didn't believe in brushing their teeth twice daily. The best part was it was set at the perfect height to stick your head inside!
A short film covering half a wall plays every ten minutes showing a small group of herbivores drinking at the waters edge before being driven off by a large predator (and of course one herbivore getting stuck in the mud and eaten). The film is an attempt to recreate the scene set out in fossilised footprints discovered at Winton in Queensland. The kids sat through the movie several times, as did most of the other kids visiting the exhibit. Hayley got pretty scared by the fourth viewing though!
Next we explored the birdlike dinosaurs. I suspect the museum's scientists had a lot of fun setting up this part of the exhibition. The poses they have these animals in are hilarious, not to mention the riot of colours. Jim Henson eat your heart out!
Speaking of Jim Hension, is it just me or is this guy remarkably like one of the Skeksis from Dark Crystal?
Finally, after over an hour in the dinosaur exhibition it was time to explore the rest of the museum. Next to the museum is a large Australian animals exhibit displaying many of Australia's lost and threatened species.
The signs accompanying the table however were a bit over the top! It wasn't that realistic!
The museum's geology section was fascinating. Crystals and minerals of every colour, size and shape. A great way to show the kids where metals and other every day objects come from. Given the current price of gold imagine how much this little rock is worth (just to help you understand the size of it, it was bigger than a basketball).
Afterwards we spent an hour playing in KidSpace, a special under 5's area in the museum. We'd missed story time and crafts but there was still plenty of fun to be had. It's a great place for imaginative play with special areas set up for dinosaurs, underwater themes, dressups, puzzles and a reading area.
Next it was onto the skeletons exhibit for a game of guess the animal from it's skeleton.
Hayley wasn't quite sure what to make of this fish peering out at her from the glass. Noah did his best to convince her it was just a skeleton but she still wasn't sure.
Located across the road from Hyde Park, the museum is easy to get to with trains and buses stopping close by, or it is an easy walk through Hyde Park from the city centre. We came by train. The two closest stations are Museum and St James.
With a huge amount of exhibitions on display, you should plan for few hours to fully enjoy what the Sydney museum has on offer. Kidspace often has activities for kids in the mornings so be sure to go early and check the times at the front counter.
Entry costs $12 for Adults and $6 for kids over 5. At the moment the, the Kids Adventure Passport program provides free entry for any child holding one of these free booklets (which you can print online or obtain at the counter).
If you're visiting with older children, the museum's website has a great information page describing the exhibit. http://australianmuseum.net.au/Dinosaurs-Exhibition-Guide.
One thing to make your kids aware of is that they are likely to see a lot of stuffed dead animals in the museum. My 3 year old was quite upset by this at first until I explained it to her. Skeletons she was OK with and replica dinosaurs, but the taxidermy specimens of animals she's seen in the wild or at zoos were a little unsettling for her.Address Australian Museum 6 College Street Sydney NSW 2010 Opening Hours 9.30am to 5pm daily (except Christmas Day) Website http://australianmuseum.net.au/