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Where Is the World’s Best Dinosaur Museum?

Travelling with children who dig dinosaurs? We’re on a quest to find the best places to see them.

Oct 29, 2013
  • Best Dinosaur Museums: Sue exhibit at The Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois
  • Best Dinosaur Museums: Dinosaur Gallery at the Natural History Museum in London, England
  • Best Dinosaur Museums: American Museum of Natural History in New York, New York
  • Best Dinosaur Museums: Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Best Dinosaur Museums: Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta, Georgia
Sue, the world’s largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex, resides at The Field Museum in Chicago.
Photography courtesy The Field Museum
Travel back in time with the interactive displays and life-size replicas within the Dinosaur Gallery at London’s Natural History Museum.
Photography courtesy Natural History Museum
The massive fossil collection at the American Museum of Natural History in New York contains some of the rarest finds.
Photography courtesy American Museum of Natural History
Home to the world’s first permanent dinosaur exhibit, Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Natural History chronologically displays 19 skeletons in their respective time periods.
Photography courtesy Carnegie Museum of Natural History
The past comes to life at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta with a dramatic simulation of the largest dinosaurs ever to walk the Earth.
Photography courtesy Fernbank Museum of Natural History

Make no bones about it: Dinosaurs are cool—at least as they exist for us today, as children’s toys, in books and motion pictures, on T-shirts and perhaps best of all, in museums.

As family travel plans take shape this season, we thought it would be fun to explore a few destinations that keep even the youngest palaeontologists—and their parents—engaged, interested and entertained. Here are some notable suggestions.

The Field Museum, Chicago

Visit Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex in the world, on permanent exhibition at The Field Museum. Sue, named after the palaeontologist who discovered her, stands 12 feet (3.7 metres) high at the hips and is 42 feet (12.8 metres) long. You can also catch a showing of Waking the T. Rex 3D: The Story of Sue at the museum’s 3-D theatre.

Natural History Museum, London

Myths about dinosaurs are put to rest at the museum’s renowned Dinosaur Gallery, where 160 million years of the creatures’ history are unearthed in hundreds of interactive displays as well as life-size models and skeletons. A massive animatronic T. rex showcases the animal’s 15-centimetre-long (6-inch) teeth, and a half-buried skeleton of an Edmontosaurus reveals skin texture, a rare discovery.

American Museum of Natural History, New York

Two grand halls in the museum’s Dinosaur Wing house a world-class collection of dinosaur fossils, such as the first Velociraptor skull ever discovered, a Stegosaurus and an Apatosaurus (although you may recognize it by its earlier name, Brontosaurus). One of the most interesting features is the dinosaur mummy. The fossilized imprint of a duck-billed dinosaur is one of the most complete specimens ever recovered.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh

The world’s first permanent exhibit of dinosaur skeletons and recreations at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Natural History, “Dinosaurs in Their Time” features 19 fully articulated skeletons in recreated environments and emphasizes their placement in different time periods—Triassic, Jurassic or Cretaceous. Kids will love the Bonehunters Quarry, an interactive fossil dig. Chisel and brush in hand, they’ll feel like true palaeontologists as they chip away a rock matrix to reveal realistic fossil casts.

Zigong Dinosaur Museum, Zigong, China

Covering more than 66,000 square metres (more than 710,000 square feet), it’s one of world’s biggest dinosaur museums. But it also rests in a key region for dinosaur fossils in China—there are more than 200 locations within the city itself where dinosaur fossils have been discovered. The museum features preserved, fossil-rich dig sites as well as reconstructions from the authentic fossils found there.

Jurassic Land, Istanbul

More theme park than museum, this dinosaur adventure centre spans 10,000 square metres (107,639 square feet) and features 70 animatronic dinosaurs that bring the past to life. Kids earn their very own palaeontologist certificates after discovering eggs and bones in the digging cave, and come face to face with predators during a ride in the Juracopter, Turkey’s largest 4-D simulator, which takes them straight into the world of dinosaurs.

Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta

Find out which dinosaur rivalled the legendary T. rex at the “Giants of the Mesozoic” permanent exhibition. A recreation of Patagonia, Argentina, where the exhibit’s creatures were discovered, showcases the largest dinosaurs known. A dramatic predator-versus-prey design displays the species’ fight for survival—the Giganotosaurus clashes with the Argentinosaurus (the largest dinosaur ever classified) as a Pterodaustro flock circles overhead.

Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, Alberta, Canada

Nine galleries and a handful of interactive displays and activities make the Royal Tyrell Museum one of the world’s most impressive dinosaur museums. A Cretaceous garden shows Alberta’s landscape as it was when the dinosaurs roamed it, while a preparation lab allows you to view scientists at work. Dinosaur enthusiasts will feel right at home in the enormous Dinosaur Hall, home to one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaur remains.

Many of you shared your thoughts on where the world’s best dinosaur museums are on Facebook. Here’s what you had to say.

“I can’t say for the whole world, but the best I’ve been to is the American Museum Of Natural History in NYC!”
—Matt Krinsky

“Drumheller, Alberta. Without a doubt!”
—Katrina McIntosh Bradley

“The Brussels Museum of Natural Sciences has the largest European gallery entirely dedicated to dinosaurs with the unique finds of Bernissart as the centerpiece. But the city is missing a certain hotel . . .”
—Bart Vanhauwaert

Prefectural Dinosaur Museum in Fukui, Japan!”
—Sayaka Shindo

“Bozeman, Montana! Museum of the Rockies
—Molly McConnell

“Natural History Museum London!”
—Jane Burnell-Fraser

“The Field Museum, Chicago. We were there this summer and stayed at Four Seasons Chicago.”
—Connie Correll Partoyan

Denver Museum of Nature and Science! Our official state dinosaur is the Stegosaurus
—Dyllan Nguyen

“Lourinhã, Portugal”
—Elsa Kampman

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History #DC”
—Ed Schudel

“Crystal Palace Park in London. The model dinosaurs have been there for over 100 years. The life-size models of over 100 prehistoric creatures were commissioned for the Great Exhibition in the 1800s”
—Chris Evans

—Oliver Miha


27 Comments about Where Is the World’s Best Dinosaur Museum?

  1. Ken Lee says:

    The two that I rate highly are the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller, Alberta Canada and the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum in Katsuyama, Japan. I’ve been to both and hope one day to go to the Zigong museum in China.

  2. Daniel De Serre says:

    Though small as museums go the Black Hills Museum in Hill City, South Dakota gets a thumbs up from me! They’ve packed a lot in a relatively small space and their gift shop has quite a variety too, from dinosaur toys to high end fossil replicas, and even some real invertebrate fossils for sale as well. I highly recommend a visit!

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  5. tim says:

    Moscow!!! Orlov museum of Paleontology!!! It is very big and impressive!!!

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  8. Pauline Hynes says:

    You should check out the Dinsoaur Museum in Aathal, near Zurich, Switzerland. I’ve not really been to too many other Dinosaur exhibits but I’m researching some for my nearly 4 year old who is obsessed. I haven’t found anything yet that comes close to this one. Thankfully it’s not too far from our house and we’re starting to spend more and more time there. It has an amazing collection of fossils, bones and full size dinos. Most are models, some originals. A 4 year old doesn’t really care whether it’s real or not… standing under a full size Brachiosaurus, coming face to face with an Elasmosaurus and holding T Rex Teeth are pretty cool to a small kid. There’s lots of information on digs and how they are run and there are dedicated sections on sea creatures, ammonites, dino birds, footprints, meateaters… the list goes on. And of course there is a great shop with all things dinosaur that kids love. Who couldn’t want their very own hook claw. What is really great is that even small kids can participate – some museums are too boring for young kids and the “dino digs” are for older kids and very intensive. The Aathal museum run parties and education sessions for kids – outside there is a full dinosaur “skeleton” buried under sand that the kids have to brush away.

    I can’t recommend it enough. If our son stays on this path it looks like the Tyrell in Alberta will be one of our next stops but for now this museum seems perfect for a rainy Sunday in Switzerland (of which there are many).

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  10. TIna Rich says:

    I would say overall, the Royal Tyrrell Drumheller Alberta is best for dinosaurs. Add the Humbold museum fur naturkunde in Berlin for the archeopteryx and other flying reptiles. London is best for marine reptiles such as ichthyosaurs.

  11. ZacJ says:

    While the Field Museum, the Smithsonian and the American Museum of Natural History are great as natural history museums, there are better places to go if your focus is specifically paleobiology. The Museum of Ancient Life in Utah is great if you just want to see Dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures. Also, the Wyoming Dinosaur Center and the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center are great if dinosaurs are the focus. These other museums are not as large, nor as ornate as some of the museums listed above but they actually have more dinosaur exhibits while some of the other museums also have geology, anthropology and other types of exhibits. So it depends on how much dinosaur focus you want (and how much you care about museum architecture.)

  12. Laurie says:

    Having just come from the London museum, I have to boast about the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, Drumheller, Alberta for sure, it beats London’s museum hands down (even with the very impressive dinasour in the entry hall!) Alberta’s musuem is incredible.Located in the Badlands themselves where you can continue the adventure outdoors along footpaths where they roamed and many of the bones have been found!!!!

  13. Paul Wolfgram says:

    Berlin, Germany has an excellent dinosaur museum, check it out –ür_Naturkunde

  14. Natasha says:

    The Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt, Germany. So far this is my daughter’s favorite although the only other we have visited from this list is the Field Museum. If you visit Chicago to see Sue, make sure to also see the brachiosaurus at O’Hare airport.

  15. Caren Lubofsky says:

    We love the Melbourne Museum (Australia). This is their weblink if you’re interested.

  16. gretchen says:

    While not an actual museum, young dino fans love Dinosaur National Park in Vernal, Utah. Geologic forces have pushed a former riverbed upward which created a wall packed with the remains of all kinds of prehistoric creatures. There are also lots of exhibits and psuedo digs to enjoy

  17. Annette says:

    Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, Drumheller, Alberta … how did you miss this??

  18. bill knight says:

    Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, Drumheller, Alberta

  19. Dan Burt says:

    Another vote for the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, Drumheller, Alberta. very impressive place for both kids and adults.

  20. Bill Hedley says:

    I have to agree with Dennis Thomas. The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, Drumheller, Alberta is undoubtedly one of the best in the world. It is right at the site of some of the greatest paleontology finds on earth.

  21. Susan Stegemann says:

    Dennis, sounds fantastic! Another great suggestion.

    Jay, thank you! Apologize for that. We’ve made the correction.

  22. Jay Teo says:

    “Covering more than 66,000 square metres (or more than 21,600 square feet)”

    66,000 square meters is 710,418 square feet, not 21,600 as stated in your article.

  23. Dennis Thomas says:

    Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, Drumheller, Alberta. Over 40 mounted Dinos plus the world famous Burgess Shale exhibit, all in a very well planed and executed display setting. Got to be one of the world’s best.

  24. Susan Stegemann says:

    Ooo. Thanks for the suggestion, Catherine!

  25. Catherine Rudd says:

    London’s Natural History Museum. It’s a shrine to Darwin and therefore sensible thought, as well as the plethora of dead display. Don’t forget the Horniman Museum in Dulwich-even more stuffed specimens with an eccentric twist!

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