The museology of dinosaurs : in search of the authentic museum dinosaur
Dinosaur museums aspire to communicate authenticity to their visitors by displaying 'authentic dinosaurs' or what they perceive as 'authentic representations' of dinosaurs. The museums do this by employing a varied arsenal of objects, from bones still embedded in the rocks in which they were found to mounted skeletons, murals and computer-controlled life-size models. These same museums however, neglect to explicitly define what authenticity is, and fail to specify the criteria by which this quality might be defined.;Two distinct perspectives were revealed while exploring the vocabulary of authenticity and adapting it to the case of dinosaurs and museums: the museum's perspective and that of the visitor. This work focuses on the museum's perspective, one, which exists in a combination of needs, obligations, restraints, beliefs, and demands, some of which derive from forces within the museums while others are a reflection of influences from outside.;Using museum visits and written sources, mainly the ephemera produced by museums, this work demonstrates how the notion of authenticity is constructed by museums. The concept of authenticity and its theoretical understanding was examined in the museums context as well as in the often parallel worlds of private collectors, commercial manufacturers, the movie industry, and other agents of popular culture.;A considerable variety of techniques and materials have been used to create a sense of the dinosaur but in variable degrees the sense of authenticity they generate is governed by the following four criteria; Composition , Provenance, (degree of) Intervention and (scientific) Accuracy. Most of these are fairly static criteria; only a notion of scientific accuracy changes rapidly over time as a result of new knowledge superseding old, and old knowledge being perceived as inaccurate (wrong).