The Witte’s “Dinosaurs Unearthed” great for children, not so much for college students

From the stegosaurus to the gigantoraptor, the “Dinosaurs Unearthed” exhibit, which opened on Feb. 23 and will remain open until Sept. 2 this year at the Witte Museum, features models of many dinosaurs, including those that were familiar to me from my days spent watching “The Land Before Time,” and several I never even knew existed.  The Witte says that this exhibit allows visitors to experience “the world’s largest and most advanced life-sized animatronic dinosaurs,” created with electronics instead of hydraulics allowing the models to “capture some of the most life-like motions ever created.”

In addition to these animatronic models, the exhibit showcases complete skeletons, fossils and even “dung stone” (yes, it’s what you think it is).  There are interactive aspects to many of these displays, as well, some of which even encourage you to play with iPads.  For one dinosaur model, you can push buttons to make the life-size model move ““ a kid’s dream come true.  If you want to embrace your inner child and rekindle your love of dinosaurs, this is a great place to go.

However, I feel that I should inform you of some qualms I had with my visit to the Witte Museum.   Firstly, I went under the impression that there is a student discount.  The volunteer at the door even thought that students get in for free.  Much to my surprise, upon reaching the front of the line to get the tickets, I was informed that there is no longer a discount for students, and I would have to pay the full price for admission, $10, plus an extra fee for the dinosaur exhibit, $5.  A $15 per person charge in a small, less than world-class museum that you could easily walk through in an afternoon is rather ridiculous.  I thought, “this exhibit better be good.”

I was disappointed.  I imagined full dinosaur skeletons galore and expected a high-class atmosphere similar to that of museums I have visited previously.   But, despite the Witte’s impressive exterior, visible when driving down Broadway, the interior seemed quite small, and the “Dinosaurs Unearthed” exhibition was tiny.   As for the atmosphere, poorly-supervised screaming children running rampant ruined any hint of class that may have possibly previously existed.  In the end, it seemed to be much more of an over-priced children’s day trip than a fun, educational collegiate experience.

Although I’ve ranted about all of this, please don’t let me completely talk you out of going.  It really is cool to check out, and I wouldn’t have complained as much if there were free admission.  Luckily, you can go for free.

Even though there is no longer a student discount, after paying for my ticket and reading the visitors’ guide, I discovered that admission on Tuesdays from 3 to 8 p.m. is free.  This is the perfect opportunity to check it out, although there is still a fee for the “Dinosaurs Unearthed” exhibition.

All things considered, if you have a passion for dinosaurs, definitely go.  I would recommend going to the Witte at least once in your years at Trinity, and if you’ve never been to the Witte, now would be a great time to experience it.   Do it on one of these beautiful spring days, and you can meander around the various buildings on the grounds and stroll along the river as well.  The setting is quite beautiful.  However, if you aren’t particularly interested in dinosaurs or visiting a mediocre museum, save your money.

If you decide to check it out, keep in mind that the museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on Tuesday when it closes at 8 p.m and on Sunday from Noon to 5 p.m. Other than “Free Tuesdays,” admission is $10, and, as previously stated, there is an additional fee for special exhibitions.  For more information, call (210) 357-1910.