The Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources in Smackover has a new exhibit: “Dinosaur Discoveries: Ancient Fossils, New Ideas.”
According to a media release sent by Superintendent Pam Beasley, the exhibit, funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and custom-built by New York’s American Museum of Natural History, spans 1,500 square feet and includes seven interactive stations. Dinosaur Discoveries focuses on how dinosaurs lived, maneuvered, defended themselves, and how they eventually became extinct. The exhibit also provides a journey into the world of modern paleontology.
This exhibit is traveling nationally and has been exhibited in museums such as the Field Museum in Chicago, the Museum of Science in Boston and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. The mobile showcase was produced specifically for the Arkansas Discovery Network, a statewide museum collaborative of which the Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources is member of.
The exhibit will be showcased until July 23.
The Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources opened in 1986 and although the museum represents all of Arkansas’s natural resources, it is dedicated to the pioneers of south Arkansas’s oil and brine industries.
If you were intrigued by the movie There will be Blood
, a stop in Smackover shouldn’t be missed. The museum is the spot to learn about the drillers, roughnecks, roustabouts, and teamsters that shaped the region’s oil and brine industry. South Arkansas was transformed by oil and the discovery of it here in 1922 gave birth to one of the wildest oil booms in history.
The museum is situated in the midst of the historic 60 square mile Smackover oil field. “If you set a toe in the Smackover oil field you’d be covered with oil by the time your other toe got it,” was a popular saying of the time. Located outside the museum is a 112-foot replica of a wooden derrick, which eventually became a popular symbol of the 1920’s oil boom. Inside, the second floor of the museum offers a view of a re-created, boom-era street scene. The scene, which can also be explored on the first floor, includes numerous storefronts, a jail, a newspaper office, and vintage cars. Photographs and exhibits throughout the building explain the era in detail.
Circuses, carnivals, and chautauquas provided an entertainment outlet for oil producing communities like Smackover. A popular display at the museum is the Rhene Meyers circus wagon. Although trained at Julliard School of Music, she chose the circus over the opera. After her circus (Barnum & Bailey) closed, she and her husband drove this carriage into town in 1929. She entertained folks from the balcony of the wagon as a one woman band. Meyers died in 1988 and the tar colored wagon sat on the bank at Smackover Creek for 10 years until her brother donated it to the museum. The museum is located at 3853 Smackover Highway and hours are: 8-5 Monday-Saturday and 1-5 on Sunday. For more details on the museum, call 870-725-2877 or visit www.amnr.org.